I came across this image the other day, whilst looking for material for the #marchmeetthemaker Instagram challenge. The prompt was “how you started.” For me, it was seeing a friend’s pictures of soap she had made with her son, for his school chemistry project. (She hand-dyes yarn, it’s absolutely gorgeous! Check her work out here: http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/FeltFusion)
Anyway, I thought it looked like fun, so I had a go. I chose my ingredients based on what I already had in the house, aside from a couple of bits I could pick up down the road for less than a fiver. So it was largely vegetable oil, which takes ages to come to trace, and I didn’t have a stick blender, so I was stirring for literally hours. I chose to fragrance it with orange essential oil – which I later found out is notorious for not surviving in cold process soap. So after four weeks, I had a completely fragrance free block of scented soap, that was a slightly weird consistency, but once I started using it, and realised how much better for my skin it was, I was hooked! That’s when I started choosing ingredients a bit more carefully, and researching the different properties they would bring to the soap.
The rest is history really, I still dabble with new ingredients and recipes from time to time, and I’m currently testing a few new fragrances, so watch this space to see what’s coming.
I know I said I’d be posting regularly, and it hasn’t really happened… although really, even once a year is regular. Regular and frequent mean different things. I didn’t promise to post frequently! Anyway, I’ve got an excuse. I was assuming that January and February would be pretty quiet, but instead, it’s been nuts!
3FM, a local radio station, interviewed me last week, and even made a little video of me making soap! You can view it on my Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/308044892865180/posts/851613418508322/ (May as well like the page while you’re there, eh?) I cannot tell you how nervous I was, in the run-up to this! But they did such a great job with the video, I’m absolutely delighted with it!
3FM are also running a promotion from Monday, where you can win a bar of my soap, so listen to Matt’s Soap Box from 8am. Good luck!
I have been making soap, and selling it, and things have
been going quite well actually, but you’d never know it because I’ve been
completely rubbish about website stuff. Now that the festive craziness is done
with, I can tell you a bit about what I’ve been up to in the last <goes off
to check when I last posted – MARCH??? That’s worse than I thought> nine
Wow. Nine months. I’ve been crapper than I thought!
The last time I posted, I told you I was trialling waxed paper wrapping for my soap, so I may as well update you on that first. I’m still using it, I like the look of it, it does the job well, and the feedback from customers has been great. It’s not perfect, but I feel it’s a step in the right direction.
My soaps are now available from more locations around the island: Mostly Manx in Douglas, and Presence of Mann in Laxey, as well as some of the Manx National Heritage sites around the island. Whilst a lot of the Heritage sites close over the winter, the Manx Museum and House of Manannan are open all year round. So if you can’t make it to any of my regular markets, you can still get your soap fix. Manx National Heritage’s website is here: https://manxnationalheritage.im/
I’ve also been involved with a new venture called The Gift Assembly, a group of small independent businesses all based here in the Isle of Man. In the run-up to Christmas we did a series of pop-up markets during lunch times, at out-of-town offices, where staff might struggle to get into town for Christmas shopping. It went very well, and we are now looking at doing some more, throughout the coming year. If this is something you’d like to know more about, or if you think your workplace might like to host us, get in touch via our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thegiftassembly.
Talking of Christmas, I sustained an injury whilst setting up for a market in Douglas. I was taking my boxes of stock from the car to the venue, on my little wheelie trolley thing, when one of the wheels hit a grate cover, and collapsed, sending the heaviest of my boxes crashing straight into my knuckle. It hurt. I may or may not have said a Bad Word. It wasn’t too bad at first, but over the rest of the day it swelled and bruised, so I took off my rings (whilst I still could) and was unable to put them back on until about three days later. I didn’t think there was any permanent damage, but it still hurts when I wake up in the mornings, until I’ve bent and flexed it a few times.
That’s almost it, except I need to tell you about this Mocha
scented soap I made: It contains actual coffee grounds for exfoliation, and the
colour comes entirely from the coffee liquid I used instead of water. It smells
absolutely heavenly! I’m going to give some away when my facebook page gets up
to 500 likes, so if you want to be in with a chance, get on over there and give
the page a Like. May as well share it too while you’re there, eh? Thanks 😊
I promise I will post more! I’m hoping the coming year will be bigger, better, and busier, so I should have lots of exciting things to share.
It seems everyone’s talking about reducing plastic waste at the moment. More and more of my customers are telling me that they are trying to avoid single-use plastics. And not before time! It should be a priority for all of us. But it’s difficult when so much of what we buy comes wrapped in layers of the stuff. Sometimes it’s easy to reject the extra packaging, like the myriad plastic bags we’re asked to place our vegetables into, but other times, not so much.
Until now, I’ve been using plastic shrink-wrap to cover my soaps. It has never really sat comfortably with me, but I didn’t know what else I could use. I need to keep the soap clean, protect it from the many fingers it encounters during an average market, whilst still enabling my customers to see it and smell it. There has to be a suitable alternative out there.
So I’ve decided to trial waxed paper, instead of shrink wrap, for my soap. Although I have already made this change in my workroom, it will take a while to filter through to my customers, as the already-shrink-wrapped bars sell and are replaced with waxed paper wrapped bars. I hope it will stand up to the job. (If you like the look of this soap, click HERE for more information.)
I know it’s not perfect
But it’s a start. There are a lot of advantages to the waxed paper. There is much less wastage. It takes no electricity for me to wrap the bars. There’s less chance of waste from me having to re-wrap, which sometimes happens if the plastic splits during shrinking. And if we can tackle to problem at source, reducing the amount of plastic produced by reducing the *demand* for it, that’s got to be a step in the right direction. I’ve got a long way to go, both in my personal waste-reducing journey and my professional one. But I’m working on it.
I’ve always loved nail varnish. When I was very small, I wasn’t allowed to wear it, but there was a lady I used to see from time to time who had her own nail salon. She always had beautiful long, painted nails. I used to admire them, and swore that when I was old enough, and had saved up enough pocket money, I would have a full set of nails just like hers. At that time, I used to bite my nails, as did my mother. I used to look at my mother’s bitten, stubby nails, and knew I didn’t want mine to look like that. This lady told me that if I wanted my nails to be nice when I was grown up, I must stop biting them straight away. So I did. I must have been no more than seven years old.
Fast forward to now
I still love nice nails, and nail varnish. I’m not so keen on the fashion styles such as the coffin and stiletto shapes, or the very square nails that were popular in the 2000s. I prefer oval or almond shapes – classic and stylish. I never did have the false nails I so coveted, though – having stopped biting them so young, they grew nicely, and are naturally a nice shape.
A while ago I read a thing on’t’interweb about using old eye shadow to change the colour of nail varnish. I had a couple of unimpressive nail varnishes, and an eye shadow that had started crumbling, so I tried it. I broke up the eyeshadow, added it to the nail varnish, and shook it. (And shook it. It took ages to properly mix in.) But it worked! Instead of having a full bottle of nail varnish I didn’t like, and a crumbling, mostly-used eye shadow, I found myself with a nail varnish I really loved! FOR FREE! This was exactly the shade I’d been looking for! I was absolutely delighted, and resolved never to throw away a disappointing nail varnish again.
A few months ago, I bought a nice nude-coloured nail varnish, and was somehow shocked when it was barely visible. (I know, I astonish even myself at times.) I put it in my drawer, and there it stayed.
Having no eye shadow of a suitable colour that could be donated, it occurred to me that the colourant used in eye shadow is mica, the same as what is used in soap. Hey, I make soap. I have mica!
Yesterday, I finally got around to digging it out, and dumping some mica in there. This is the result: (Obvs I should have taken a “before” picture, but what can I say? I’m not one for thinking ahead.) Another totally wearable nail varnish.
I’m guessing you’ve got the odd nail varnish you don’t wear. And even if you don’t have mica, you’ve very likely an old eye shadow that’s past it’s best. If you decide to try this out, come and join us in the Facebook group Relax – it’s Bathtime! and show us your pics. (Oh, and remember to take a “before” pic too!)
Oh, and that lady who inspired my lifelong love of nail varnish? Turns out she’s renowned in her field, and is the author of a book that holds bible-like status among nail techs!