Monday, November 9, 2015

Natural Dyeing withTurmeric

Turmeric Dyed wraps
The twins in turmeric dyed wraps
I love experimenting with natural dyes.  I have had a lot of fun with indigo, but recently I experimented with turmeric (yes the spice in your cabinet.)  It was an incredible experience and very educational.
I was getting ready for a photo shoot with a set a 2 week old twin girls and I wanted some naturally dyed wraps. I actually prefer a 50 grade cheesecloth, but I only had local access to the 10 grade (from Hobby Lobby.)  I got quite a bit of cheesecloth while it was on sale.  Yea!
Of course, before I could do anything with it I had to wash and prep the cloth.  I started by boiling the cloth with vinegar and washing soda.  I let the fabric soak for an hour, rinsed it and added it to a pot of turmeric boiled with water and a little vinegar.  I simmered it for several hours before rinsing and washing the fabric.  That was when things got interesting.
I started washing it with my homemade soap after the rinse water started to run mostly clear.  I draped the cheesecloth over my hand and when it touched the soap to it.  The fabric went from a bright yellow to a brick red in the shape of my hand.  I rinsed the soap out and the cheesecloth had turned a orangy gold.
Progression after Dyeing
I was a bit worried by this point because this was not the color I was looking for this time.  I remembered the vinegar that I had used when simmering it.  So I poured a bit of apple cider vinegar in the container with the rinse water.  The fabric where I poured the vinegar immediately turned back to the beautiful gold.
natural dyed wraps
Also turmeric dyed wraps 

The first piece that I dyed I left out on my porch on the line.  After 24 hours, this piece had faded to a pale yellow.  The second piece I hung up inside, and it stayed a beautiful bright yellow.  I love it when you get what you are looking for in an idea.

 I am considering adding these wraps to my shop.  Tell me what you think.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Changes, changes, changes

My new soaps
So things are changing somewhat in my soap line-up.  I was trying to get ready for a craft show, and I was looking at the sheer number of soaps that I had to pack up to be ready to go.  I have about thirty different soaps!  It was stunned.  I couldn't believe that I had that many varieties. 

I finally came to the realization that I need to cut down on the number of soaps that I keep in stock.  I had such large quantities of my ingredients tied up in all my fun soaps.  I have had a hard time keeping my most requested soaps in good supply.  There have been several times that I have gotten down to one or two of my most requested soaps.  This is a problem for me so I am discounting all the soaps that are not going to be remaining in my stock line.  I am going to take it down to about 12 - 15 soaps and then 2-3 soaps for the seasons. 

I have four soaps that I will be adding.  I will be adding a simple goat milk soap, a Gardener's Friend soap and an Acne Relief soap.  The goat milk soap is simple, only three oils and no scents and only a little mica on top.  The Gardener's Friend soap will have fine coffee grounds for scrubbing and scent removal.  I live in the volunteer state (Tennessee) and I have found that the volunteer soaps sell well.  I have scented these bars with a combination of citrus oils.  The Acne Relief contains activated charcoal, zinc oxide and indigo.  Activated charcoal is good for pulling impurities from your skin.  Indigo is also reputed to excellent for helping to improve your skin and help with acne.  Zinc Oxide helps to heal irritated skin.  This soap will also have tea tree, lavender and rosemary essential oils. 

I have also ventured, after a ton of research, into making salves.  I will be posting on this soon.  I have also added milk baths and masques for my local customers and I may do a post on that also.  I am also working on adding a baby product line as well. 

Now that we have settled into a routine with homeschooling I am going to try to get back to posting at least once a month.  Now that things have settled out with school my time is a bit more available.  I will be posting these soaps soon so keep in touch for updates on my site.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Valentine Truffles

Finished Soap Truffles
This year for valentines I decided that the perfect valentines soap would be truffles.  I think that the perfect gift is something that won't require a diet after enjoying.   ;)
Formed centers

I started by making a 3 lb batch of soap and split it in 6 parts.  Each part was about 12 ounces each.  I scented and colored each part differently.

I chose a variety of scents.  I went with mocha, espresso,  raspberry, peppermint, hazelnut toffee, and vanilla.  This gives a nice variety for people to choose from.  I plan to sell these in a pack of four or six.

Ready to coat   
After getting all of the centers ready and giving them two days to make sure that they are good and solid before handling further.  I wanted to be sure that they did not get crushed accidentally.  After getting the centers laid out for the first two scents I realized that the paper liners were not going to work.  The paper liner would stick to the sides of the truffle and make them look unattractive.

The soap for coating ready to mix.  I use cocoa for colorant.
Once I got the batch of coating made, not a simple task, I started trying to coat the centers.  The task was made more difficult because I had taken the coconut oil into the house so that I could start doing inventory and I had fits trying to remember where it had gotten put.  On top of that, my space is only heated with space heaters, and it takes a while to get the area warmed up.

Anyway, after the soap thickened up enough to actually coat the soap centers, I started covering the centers.  I used two spoons to completely cover the centers.  This allowed me to get the centers completely covered without ending up with excess soap on the truffles.  This ensures a neat and finished appearance.  Unfortunately if you try to use the soap before it is thick enough, you can see the color of the soap center right through the soap coating, as you can see below.
When the soap is too thin you can see
the color of the center through the
coating soap.  

Mocha truffles
I went through the centers on scent at a time and put the topping to identify each one separately.  For the mocha truffles, I went with simple cocoa powder.  For the espresso, I went with a finely ground coffee.  For the peppermint, I used a green mica sprinkled on top.  For the raspberry, I sprinkled the top with a dark pink cupcake sugar.  For the vanilla I used a gold mica sprinkled over the top.  Last but not least I added gold mica to a little bit of the brown soap while it was still thin and drizzled it over the top.  Since the outside scent is the same, this will allow me to get the correct scents without having any confusion.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Life in my World

The blackberries were huge for wild berries and
there were so many!!
Life in my house has been a lot crazy lately.  Since I last posted my husband's brother from Peru brought his family for a visit and I have had a ton of produce to put up.

This year the blackberries were absolutely amazing!  To start with they ripened two weeks early, and we had a bumper crop.  I have been picking berries for most of my life and I don't remember ever seeing a crop this good.  There were so many berries on the canes that they could not stand up like they usually do.  Not only were there lots of berries but, for wild berries they were huge.  Normally wild berries are very small, these were more like the cultivated berries that you see in the store size wise.  I LOVE blackberries!!!  And I could not bear to see them dry up so I spent hours picking berries and then processing them.  I now have more than 5 quarts of blackberries in the freezer and more than 24 pints of either blackberry jelly or syrup.

We have also made over 15 pints of sweet relish.  This is one of my hubby's favorites.  So our postage stamp garden was mainly planted for relish; i.e. cucumbers and peppers.  We do have tomatoes as well but, they are only just starting to come in.  Mind you this was three batches of relish and we have had to fight with our dog for the cucumbers.  No kidding, she seemed to think that they were the perfect plaything and would go into the garden pick them and chew them to pieces.  We would come driving into the driveway only to see her carrying a cucumber around the yard in her mouth.

Now the elderberries are getting ripe, a month early.  We have been picking them in spite of being so busy because I was not willing to let the birds have them.  So I will be making jelly as well as making elderberry syrup (medicinal) for my family.  As it stand now I have lots of jelly made one one gallon batch of elderberry syrup to share with the family and still have over 2 gallons of juice to make into jelly or syrup.  And there are still loads of berries in the patch.

On top everything else my husband and I were trying to make a desision about school for our children.  We have now desided to homeschool them.  This is a big desision for us.  It will mean that any work I do will be sporatic and will come after we have finished with school and any housework.  So please bear with us as we change gears in our house.  I will be posting the projects that I have already completed.  Sorry there are not more pictures in this post, but I have barely gotten the camera out the last month or so.

Thank you for your patience and for coming back.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Island Breezes Soap

Island Dreams
I joined Amy Warden from for a soap challenge.  I made several attempts at a secret feather swirl with limited sucess( in my own opinion).  After three attempts at a feather swirl I descided to go with a hanger swirl for my entry.

Top view before cutting
I had this soap in the plans for a summer soap and just had not gotten around to making it yet.  I used a coconut and peach fragrance oil to scent it.  The idea for this soap was a soap that would be reminicent of and island vacation.  This was also the inspiration for the embeds on top of the soap (althought these were not included in the challenge).

While this soap is scented with fragrance oils it is all naturally colored.  The colors in the body of the soap come from comfrey, madder, alkanet, dock, indigo & zinc oxide.  The embeds are colored with zinc oxide, indigo, annatto, and micas.  I love the flow of natural colors in cold process soap.

The ones that didn't measure up
This soap wnet together much more easily than the feather swirls I tried.  For this soap I let the soap get to a little thicker trace than you can use for a feather swirl and I was able to spoon the layers of soap into the mold.  After getting all of the soap in the mold I used my hanger to go up and down about four times and then back and forth about 7 through the heigth of the mold.  I love the swirls, but I think the next time I make this soap I may lighten up the indogo and alkanet with a little zinc oxide just to keep the tone a little lighter.  I must say that the indigo does look a little like the ocean to me though.

Enjoy and I will add the link for you to see all of the other beautiful soaps as soon as I get it.  I hope that this will allow you to see all of the beautiful soaps that were entered.

I am linking with the following blogs:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Short Hiatus

I will be taking a couple of weeks off blogging.  I am super, super busy for the next several weeks.  As a means of cutting back on stress this is one of the things that I can cut.  However look out when I come back as I am sure I will have lots of new things to share.

Thank you for your understanding.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Making Embeds for Cold Process Soap

Full line-up of embeds
I have made a batch of glycerin soap and while I will use it for drizzles and things like that I don't like to use it in large quantities in my cold process soap.  Most of your commercially available glycerin soap bases still have more chemicals that I prefer to use in my soap.  Also I find most of them to also be drying in comparison to cold process (hereafter referred to as CP) due to the use of alcohol of some kind being used to dissolve the cooked soap.  (For more info on Glycerin soap making see my post at
The footballs - about 1" long

I decided fairly early on that if I was going to do embeds that I would use CP to make them and then add them to the soap.  Since I have quite a few soaps that I want to add to my line-up either for holidays or permanently that I want to use embeds for I decided to make a batch of soap just for this purpose.

To start with, I worked up a recipe that will work with all of my current recipes.  This was not complicated but it did involve estimating how much soap to make in order to get
Rubber Ducks
 all of the embeds that are currently on my list finished.  For some of my soaps I may have to make multiple runs due to not having as many molds as I would like in particular designs.

I also needed molds for some of the soaps that are either not readily available or are out of my current price range. This particular project will be covered in a separate post.

For my recipe I decided to use only three of my most commonly used oils to minimize confusion for me when filling out my ingredient labels.  In my case that means olive oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil.  I do use other oils and butters, but almost all of my recipes include these three.

Flip Flops and "Ice Cubes"
I started by making my full batch.  I measured everything out and mixed it without adding any colorant or fragrance.  Next I separated the batch into smaller containers for individual coloring based on how much I would need fill the molds available.  Except for the batch for the "malted milk balls"  I left all of the embeds unscented.  This made it much easier to deal with getting everything mixed.

Shells and Limes
I made lots of variety in this batch.  Unfortunately not all of the embeds worked as well as I had hoped that they would.  One of the ones that did not turn out was the lemon slices.  Unfortunately I did not blend to a thick enough trace before filling my molds and the lemons did not survive the unmolding process.  The lemons were not stiff enough to come out of the mold in one piece.  The shells that I made from my homemade mold worked very well.  I only lost one shell and it was a long thin one.
Hand rolled "malted milk balls"

The only multi-step embed that I needed to make was the "malted milk balls".  These are for a cupcake soap that I want to make.  I colored these with cocoa powder and scented them with a dark chocolate fragrance.  I gave this soap 2 days in the mold before moving to the next step.  After unmolding the soap, I used a long handled 1/4 tsp measuring spoon to portion out balls of soap that I hand rolled for uniformity.  These did end up being a little different size wise, but not by much.  After letting the finished soap balls sit for 24 hours I rolled them again to smooth them a little bit further.  When I rolled them the first time the soap was still somewhat sticky so the balls looked rough.  After all of the balls are rolled smooth and sit for a day or two I will hit them with some steam to make them nice and shiny.

I am linking with the following blogs: