Friday, September 28, 2007

Thanks to Kaylee and Marissa!! You made my birthday special

Today is officially my birthday. It was an off day for me from the get-go, though it had nothing to do with another birth year. It was just one of those days that had a rough start. I honestly think it's related to sheer exhaustion. Working 12-14 hour days, and then trying to find time for family and friends is taking its toll. Next week, my honey and I fly to Chicago for a long weekend. It's a much needed and much deserved get-away!! We have tickets to see the Broadway production of Wicked. O.K, I got side-tracked. The reason for this post is to thank two of my long time employees for such a wonderful birthday.

Kaylee and Marissa have been with the company for 3 years. Both are incredible gals and very loyal. They are working their way through college and two employees I count on to run things when I'm away. Today, they showed up at my home with a floral bouquet and lunch. They did all this while still working to get your orders ready (not to mention, Marissa had 29 boxes of incoming stock to put away at the warehouse!!). I just want to post a special thank you to both of these girls for thinking of me today. Their card read...."To the Best Boss Ever!" It made my day.

Also, a special thank you to my honey man. I awoke to a scrumptous Boston cream cake, flowers, balloons, and a great card! Tonight we are celebrating with dinner at The Earl in Ann Arbor (it's to die for!). I must also throw out a special thanks to my grandkids. They sent me a floral arrangement which included Gerber favorite. Had I received any more flowers it would have felt like a funeral instead of a birthday.

What a wonderful birthday. A host of cards from family and friends, flowers, a cake... my spirits were lifted and once again I'm reminded life is good. It's nice to be remembered.

Thank you to everyone who made this day special.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Product Feedback: Mold Market Duck Pond Mold

I received the following email from one of our customers.

Betty M. wrote:

"Just want to thank you for the duck pond mold. It is wonderful! Our customers love the ducks and we’ve had great success. Please find attached a picture of the duck soap we are making. Thank you for a great product!! Keep up the good work!

I've showcased a few of Betty's soaps from Great job, Betty! Thanks for the feedback. The duck pond mold is from the Mold Market line. Mold Market produces top-notch, quality molds for soaps. They continue to be best sellers for us. GoPlanetEarth also offers a large selection of rubber ducks to use with this mold. Click here for a how-to instruction sheet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Here's some soap making inspiration

I thought this was such clever soap packaging. You can find these soaps at Suds Muffin. Guessing you could probably do something similar by using a grommet machine with some heavy weight paper and ribbon. Anyway...thought it looked pretty cool.

You'll also want to take a look at their bakery bundt soaps. YUMMY to the second degree! The one we've pictured is certainly sooooapdelicious. Hope these give you some new inspiration.

Based on my birthday cake.... I'm only 16!!! YEAH

Sad, but true. I celebrate a birthday this week. Hey, at least I'm still 6-feet above ground and that's worth celebrating.

We had a birthday dinner last night at my daughter's house. My grandson helped mommy make the cake (it was chocolate and oooohhh so good!). I was happy to see that my grandson only put 16 candles on the cake proving he DEFINITELY loves his NeeNee. Do I even remember being 16?

After dinner, Poppy and I were put in charge of bath and bedtime rituals for the grand kids. Darn.... it really took a lot of arm pulling to get us to do it (hah!). My son-in-law is working on a special project in Montana for the next two weeks and my daughter was happy for the company. God love her for even hosting dinner. She works full time as a school adminstrator, is mommy to 2 toddler kids, and working on her masters. Not sure how she does it (though she did walk me into her bedroom to show me mile high stacks of laundry that needed to be put away).

Pictured is NeeNee and Carson blowing out my 16 candles. Thank God it was only 16. Had it been my true age, we might have set the dining room on fire.

Aging isn't so bad when you have grandbabies. They make you feel young and best yet, have no concept of your age.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bring the seashore home with these lovely iridescent sea shell soaps

Here's a sneek peek at some soaps that are being featured in an upcoming "how-to" article in the Handcrafted SoapMaker Journal. I used Mold Market molds to make the soaps. All of the ingredients used for this project can be purchased at

If you aren't already a member of the HSMG (Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild), I encourage you to join. The Guild offers product and general liability insurance at group rates as well as many other benefits.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Volume versus Weight...there is a difference!

This week a customer, who we'll call Mr. X, contacted me about a mold. It was a large production slab tray that is designed to hold around 96 ounces of melted soap base. Mr. X only filled the tray with 40 ounces of soap as he intended to make smaller sample-size soaps.

Since Mr. X did not fill the tray to its full capacity, the bottom of the mold did not sit completely flat and a very slight bowing occurred that caused the poured soap to shift to the outer edges of the mold (by about an 1/8"). Had Mr. X poured poured to full capacity, this would not have occurred. The weight of the soap would have given a even pour.

When Mr. X called to inform me that the molds were defective, I patiently explained that he needed to fill the mold to its full capacity to ensure an even pour. He was quick to point out that he had filled the mold to full capacity with water and some bowing still occurred (bowing means the bottom of the mold did not sit flat on the pouring surface). I explained that water was not as dense as soap and the same volume of water would not be the same volume as soap. In lay terms... soap weighs more than water. Mr. X had a hard time understanding this concept and insisted that whether he used water or soap, the bowing results would not change. This simply isn't true because liquid volume and weight measure differently.

Some liquids have more weight than others. One cup of syrup weighs more than one cup of water or milk. One cup of oil for the car weighs more than one cup of cooking oil. One cup of liquid mercury weighs more than water. When we read on the side of a bottle that it contains, for example, 8 oz. of cooking oil, soap, milk, or oil for the car, it does not mean that it weighs eight ounces. It means that there are eight FLUID OUNCES of the liquid inside. Fluid ounces are used to measure liquids because they have no shape. Volume is something entirely different. An object made of a substance with a density greater (such as a bar of soap) than the liquid (such as water) will sink in the liquid.

In the end, Mr. X could still not understand that the large tray mold filled with soap weighed in at 6 pounds; filled with water it weighed closer to 5 pounds. The difference was in the density of the liquid. Bottom line... soap weighs more than water. This is why soap sinks in water.

When we list the number of ounces per cavity for a mold, we are referring to the volume not weight. If the mold cavity is listed as holding 4 ounces, it means it will hold 4 liquid ounces whether it's soap or water. However, since soap is denser than water, you're finished soap will weigh more than 4 ounces.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Creating Soaps with Defined Colored Areas

I often receive emails from customers asking, "How'd you do that?". Nine times out of ten, they are wanting to know how to define the colored area in a soap design. The finished results are extraordinary, but not a project for the impatient soul.

I call this technique the "pour and scrape" because that's exactly what you will be doing. Pouring a little, then scraping any excess overpour. sells a handy little
molding tool that allows you to easily scrape away any soap that overflows from the raised area you are pouring.

The secret to your success is this molding tool AND starting your colored pours in the deepest areas first. In looking at the
lighthouse soap, you would start your first color pour with the crashing waves. The waves are the deepest area of this design. Next you would move on to the house. The roof is deeper than the white portion of the house, therefore, you pour the roof first. You continue in this manner until you have filled all areas of the raised design.

Allow each poured area to set up and harden a bit. Then, using your molding tool, gently scrape away any overpour. Once you've scraped and defined the poured area, begin your next pour. Again, allow the poured soap to harden a bit before removing any overpour. It's a tedious process and certainly not a technique used for mass productions. Defined color pours appease the artistic side of the soaper. The finished soap becomes a work of art and likely the reason they can retail for $7-$8 per bar.

Here are a few added pointers for success.

1) It's a good idea to have your soap colored before you start. I save all my soap scraps from other soaping projects and the "pour and scrape" technique is a great way to use them up. I also keep a number of glass measuring cups on hand. This allows me to put different colors in each cup for melting and helps speed the process. A quick zap in the microwave easily melts the soap to a pouring consistency.

2) Be careful you don't overheat the soap base. Pouring the soap at too high of a temp will cause the soap to puncture and bleed into you previous pour.

3) Spritz each poured soap layer with a little rubbing alcohol before pouring the next layer. It will help the next layer to adhere to each other.

4) Allow the soap to set up completely before trying to remove. When you have mulitple colored layers, especially in very small area, you need to be gentle when removing the finished soap from the mold. Otherwise, you could find some of your colored layers don't release and end up stuck in the mold. Not a good thing!

So there you have it.... creating soap with defined colored areas.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What's a Bath Bomb or Bath Fizzie and how do I make one?

A bath bomb, also called a bath fizzie, can be formed into a number of different shapes and is primarily made of baking soda and citric acid. When dropped in bath water, it fizzes until it is partially or completely dissovled. Often fragrance/essential oils are added to impart aroma. Color and other additives, such as glitter, sea salts, and mica, may also be added for esthetics or therapuetic value.

Think of a bath bomb as a giant Alka-Selzter tablet. Once the tablet is dropped into water, it become effervescent and fizzes like crazy creating lots bubbles. That's exactly what a bath bomb does; creates lot of tickley bubbles. But instead of tickling the throat and digestive tract, these bubbles tickle the skin. The bath bomb pictured in this post are from CherrieFlip and Cherrie Flip has a wonderful selection of ready-made bath bombs which are sure to inspire. The ice cream bath bomb (mold is from the Mold Market line) was made using melt and pour soap for the cone and a bath bomb for the ice cream.

The most popular form of bath bombs are bolus shapes (circular), but you'll also find them in a host of other shapes, like shells, fortune cookies, hearts, and fish. Here is one of our favorite Bath Fizzie recipes. sells colorants, fragrance, and specific bath bomb molds, including two from the Mold Market line and a 2-part 3-D ball. A good number of the other ingredients needed for bath fizzies can be found at your local grocery store.

Have a favorite bath bomb recipe or photos to share? Send 'em this way. I would love to showcase some of your best work!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Remembering 9-11

I would be remise if I did not mention and show honor for the many innocent United States Citizens who were enjoying the freedoms we all have the opportunity to experience everyday. On that fateful September morning lives were tragically swept away in burst of indescribable violence.

May we resolve to never forget them and to remember their families in our prayers and to make a conscious decision to hold even tighter to the flag of our country. We need to appreciate the great sacrifices of those service women and men who everyday are attempting to keep us and our loved ones safer from such an event like this ever happening again in our country. Attached is a picture of the events of that day. God Bless those victims of freedom on 9-11 and those who continue to protect us everyday and night as we live in this beautiful land of freedom.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Kudos to this young mom, I split a gut on this one

My daughter emailed a recent Ebay posting to me. I'm guessing it's because I recently walked out of a store without paying for a pair of socks (for my grandson). It wasn't intentional. We were shopping a huge strip mall with my grandkids. If you've ever shopped with small children you know it's no cake walk. At some point my grandson needed to use the restroom (this was his 3rd trip) which required us to leave the store and walk the length of a football field to the bathroom. I managed to pry the 3-pack super hero socks from his sticky, soiled hands and tenatively placed them in an open compartment of the stroller for safe keeping (he was convinced someone would take them while we were gone). During my departure, my daughter retrieved a sippy cup from another compartment of the stroller. In doing so, she closed the compartment where I placed the socks. Yep, you guessed it. The socks were now forever lost admist baby wipes, diapers, teething toys, drink boxes, and cereal snacks.

So there you have it, we went to the checkout, paid for the items in our cart, and left the store without paying for the super hero socks. It wasn't until we were halfway around the outdoor strip mall (did I mention is was raining) that I realized the socks were stashed in the stroller. What to do? Trudge a good 1/2 mile around the outlet mall (in the rain) to pay for the socks, or call it a day? It was a no brainer. With two hungry, crying, whining children in need of naps, I called it a day and made a mental note to donate the cost of the socks to a local charity as penance.

Having said all that, you must read this Ebay post. It's entertaining to say the least and should put a smile on the face of all you moms (and grandmoms) that have shopped with small children.

Pokemon Ebay Post

NOTE: The lot of Pokemon cards sold for $142.51. The starting bid was $0.50. This young mom's detailed story was worth every dollar of the winning bid! The post had 14,000 hits!!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Blending fragrance oils... creating a signature scent

It's easy to get excited about all the wonderful fragrance choices offered by various suppliers. Before you know it you're hearing "ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching" as you add your pick fragrances to the cart. In many cases, you haven't sampled the fragrances which means you could possibly end up with scents you don't like and will never use.

Fragrance is very personal. Everyone's sense of smell is different. What one person loves, another may loathe. And trying to predict a customer's fragrance likes and dislikes is nearly impossible. So what to do with those "yucky" unused fragrance oils? Consider fragrance blending. Use the fragrances you currently have and blend them with those "yucky" fragrances. By experimenting, you can blend a combination of fragrances that becomes your own signature scent.

Many customers just starting out in business have a limited budget. A wrong fragrance purchase can be a big "ouch" and blending is a great way to flip an "ouch" into an "ah". Maybe you don't own any "yucky" fragrances. Blending is still a great way to experiment with the fragrances you do like. It's possible to add 2-3 new scents just by blending from your current fragrance stock (and never spent a penny:).

So how do you get started with blending?
A printable list of some sample fragrance blends can be found at
You may or may not have all of the fragrances listed but don't let that stop you from experimenting. Work with the fragrances you have. I've given a few pointers about how to get started and supplies needed.

Already have a favorite blend to share? Email and I will gladly post it.

Supplies Needed:

  • Pipettes for transfering fragrance parts into sampling tubes

  • 5-inch sampling tubes (you will want the natural polyproylene ones)

  • Assorted fragrances that you currently own or view the complete fragrance list from

The How-To:

1) Select the fragrances you would like to blend.

2) Using a clean, unused pipette draw out one part from Fragrance A and place into sampler tube. Using a clean, unused pipette draw out one part from Fragrance B and place into the sampler tube used for Fragrance A. Depending on the number of fragrances you have selected, continue to add one part of each fragrance.

3) Always use one pipetter for each fragrance selected. The same pipette used for Fragrance A should not be used for Fragrance B.

4) Add one part of each fragrance you selected into the sampler tube. You may not always be adding equal parts of each fragrance, but it's a good starting point. As you experiment with different fragrances, you may use 3 parts of one, 2 parts of another, etc. There will be ample opportunity to add additional parts as you sample your blend. Remember this is work in progress and the maturation of the blended scents isn't immediate so starting with one part is recommended.

5) Keeping a record of your blending experiments is critical. If you develop that perfect combination, you want to be able to duplicate it.

6) Once you have added fragrances, place cap on sampler tube and gently shake. Allow tube to set for 5 minutes so the scents have an opportunity to introduce themselves to each other. Uncap the tube and sample the early stages of the aroma. Do this by placing the tube 2-3 inches from your nose and sniffing the air. Again, record your thoughts. Does one fragrance seem to overpower another? Is one fragrance lost in the mix? Is something missing?

7) Recap the tube and allow to sit for a few hours so that the oils become better acquainted. Blending fragrances is somewhat like blending wine. You have to allow the different varieties to mature and intrigrate. Uncap and document your thought on the blend. Recap and allow tube to sit for a few days. This is when the scent will fully mature.

8) Uncap and make any adjustments. If scent A is overpowering, then add more of scent B (or C or D). Do you need to add a new fragrance to the blend, maybe even two? Document changes.

9) When adding more fragrance parts, you will need to repeat all of the above steps.

10) Hint: Smelling a number of different scents can overpower and diminish the sense of smell. Sniffing ground coffee will refresh and restore the sense of smell. Sniffing the armpit has also been recommended (honest engine!). Personally, I think I'll stick to coffee.


All of the fragrances and essential oils found in the Fragrance Oil Blending Guide can be purchased at They offer an extensive selection of soap making supplies.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Carson's Cupcake Soaps

My 4-year old grandson, Carson, loves to come to NeeNee and Poppy's house on the weekends. Mostly because he and I make "soap stuff". We have matching aprons that we wear whenever we do soap "stuff". A couple of times I've grabbed an apron that didn't match his. Bad idea! He would have no part of it. Our aprons MUST match.

My grandson has no real concept of what I do for a living. He just knows it's about soap AND that NeeNee let's him help whenever she's experimenting with a new idea.

Well, this past weekend we made cupcake soaps. Carson's favorite part was picking out the scents and adding the sprinkles on top. He discovered a number of different sprinkles in the cupboard and (as you can see from the photo) used them all. His choice fragrance picks were strawberry, apple, bubblegum, and fudge brownies. I did the frosting and pouring of soap, other than that, he did most of the work himself. He put the soap chunks in the melting cup, adding the scent and color (and, of course, the sprinkles).

The base of each cupcake was poured into a paper cupcake holder. Once it set up, we piped the cupcake frosting on top (using a large zip lock bag). A table knife and (fingers) were used to shape the soap frosting. I'm still working on the perfect soap frosting recipe that's easy and works with melt and pour soap base. Once I have it down, I will be sharing with you. I was pretty pleased with the first go around. The frosting hardened nicely once applied making the soaps easy to wrap.

A bicycle made for soap?

The other day while web surfing, I happened upon a website named Just Soap where a bicycle is used to make soap. Of course, my curiousity was piqued and I had to learn more. As I read the bio on "why a bicycle" I found the concept to be downright ingenious. Founder, Frederick Breeden was able to combine two things he is passionate about (biking and soap) and transform them into something that provides both a living and a greater level of fitness.

This one-of-a-kind bicycle-powered soap blender uses a belt that turns a blade in a large stainless steel vat to stir the soap ingredients. It usually takes about two hours of pedaling to thicken up the soap for pouring. Near the end, the last 20 minutes or so, the pedaling gets pretty difficult.

So why the bicycle? Fredrick was making soap the traditional way, by hand stirring. It was taking him so long that he could only process 80 pounds of soap at a time. Since he loves to bike, it dawned on him that legs are much stronger than arms, so why not try to mix the soap with a bicycle. He searched for a bicycle builder to help design and build the contraption he now uses.

Fredrick has even taken his bicycle concept to the next level... he markets it! The website sells t-shirts advertising his unique soap making techinque. Way to go Fredrick!