Thursday, November 29, 2012

Melt & Pour Soap Making: Mr. Grinch Sleigh Soap

I made a second batch of "Grinch" soaps using the GPE Water Dissolving Soap Paper. These will be gifted to the grand kid's teachers. I wrapped the soap in plastic wrap, and assembled into a sleigh with bath salts as shown below.

Who better to guide the sleigh than Mr. Grinch, himself? The Grinch isn't into gift giving, so he opts to deliver a bag of North Pole snow (scented bath salts).

I plan to hot glue the reindeer feet to the green base so it doesn't tip and double-sided tape will keep the sled in place. My nine-year old grandson asked, "Will you add blades to the sides of the sleigh?" And, so I will. I'll cut them from white card stock spray with silver spray paint.

Once everything is secure, the gift will be wrapped in cello and dressed with colorful ribbon to present to each teacher. The gift tag around "Rudolph Reindeer's" neck will be signed by each grand kid.

Here's the low-down on how to complete this project:

  • Empty toilet tissue rolls. Three rolls will make two reindeer.
  • Wine cork and brown chenille stem for tail
  • Small branches for feet and neck
  • Silver spray paint
  • Silver gift tag for neck (you can also spray the tag silver)
  • White pom-pom ball for tail
  • Green tissue paper for face of reindeer
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • Small twigs for antlers
  • Miniature jingle bells for antlers, nose (and sleigh / Grinch hat)
  • Printable Grinch (find it here for FREE!) on card stock
  • 8 x 12" red felt
  • 18" of twine
  • 10-12" of holiday ribbon (for sleigh and reindeer)
  • Finished soap (see below)
  • Pom Pom for top of Grinch hat
  • Miniature jingle bell for Grinch hat
  • Cardboard wrapped in green tissue
  • Double-sided tape
  • Elmer's craft glue
  • Hot glue gun
  • Cellophane for gift wrapping
  • Gift tags
  • Silver spray paint
  • Approximately 3/4 cups spa-quality salts
  • 1/4 teaspoon fragrance oil (mix into salts until evenly distributed)
  • Plastic bag

Have FUN!! The minute my grand kids walked in the door they said, "WOW!! I love that!" Hopefully, the receiver will feel the same. No matter what, the grand kids are excited about their teacher gifts.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Soap Molds: Mold Market Leaves & Berries

This is one of newest Mold Market designs (Leaves & Berries Mold). I've been experimenting with colors to determine what shades I like best. My second test results of Kelly Green and tomato red liquid gels are shown in the above photo. The green and red displayed well against a white soap background.

My first attempt didn't fair well. The green color was too light (pictured above). A few more drops of green colorant deepened the shade and gave the desired result.

You will need to use GPE's injector soap tool with this mold. It was late at night when pouring these soaps. I now wish I would have paid more attention to the mold details. That's what happens when you're pouring soap after midnight. The simplicity of the overall design coupled with the leaf details is awesome. I give this mold a 10. It's a winner!

Melt & Pour: Follow-Up on Overcoloring Soap

In a prior post, I discussed issues with over coloring melt and pour soaps. This follow-up post shows the results of how the same pigment can give different color shades. GPE's Neon Bright Purple was used in this scenario.

The ice cream soap on the left was colored using white soap base. As you can see, the soap isn't even close to purple color. The opacity of the white soap base causes the purple pigment to soften to a pinkish, magenta color.

The center soap is closer to a lavender color. I used the Neon Bright Purple, but added a very small amount of Neon Bright Blue which yielded a soft lavender in white MP soap base.

Pictured right is clear soap with Neon Bright Purple colorant added. It's definitely not a true purple, but more of a mulberry color. To achieve a "true" purple color in clear MP base, you need to add a small amount of Neon Bright Blue.

If you take a close look at the far right soap, you will note that some of the white dots around the inside edge of the mold have faded away. This happened because the second soap layer was poured at too high of a temperature. It melted portions of the white dots causing them to migrate slightly into the purple/mulberry color.

My final test results showed that the Neon Bright Purple did not migrate or have bleeding issues when used relative portions. Adding extra color to deepen color intensity is going to create over-coloring issues. The soap pictured above sat for several days with no signs of color migration.

If you compare the two ice cream soaps, you will note that the second one is WAY over-colored. The Neon Bright Purple should resemble the lighter shade ice cream soap when used in white (opaque) soap base. If you want a "true" purple, use clear soap with equal parts of Neon Purple and Neon Blue colorant.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Melt & Pour Soap Making: Can you Overcolor?

I have been working with a customer on a coloring issue. It's one of our faithful non-bleeding liquid gel colors (Neon Purple), but for some reason there are apparent problems. The big question is was the soap base over colored or is there a problem with the color formula. That's the investigative part we are currently working to resolve.

As you can see in the above customer photo, the purple isn't fairing well. The color has migrated into the dove and the square chunks in the loaf slice. In my test run of the purple colorant, I tried to achieve the same shade of purple as shown above in white soap base. I was fairly certain this hue might possibly be a color overkill. Below is what I would expect the Neon Bright Purple color to look like when added to white MP soap base.

Although it may look similar in color, the purple dove background is actually much darker in color. It is close to the over-color we did with our oval Popsicle mold shown below. It was over-colored to the point we actually could use the soap bar as a crayon.

The purple already started bleeding (migrating) onto the white cone after 12 hours. For a soap maker, there is nothing more frustrating than wasting time and materials on soaps that don't return a profit.

This is why GPE takes it seriously when a customer reports a problem with one of our products. Usually it's an easy fix. However, in a case like this, it requires testing on our end and a one on one with our color lab.

What we did discover while working through this color issue, is over-coloring is perfect when making our soap crayons. They actually do yield color that can be used in the tub. My 9-year old grandson tried out the over-colored soaps and was delighted at how well they worked. We will be testing them in the shower over the weekend. Here is what he colored on paper.

A sure way to know you have added too much color to MP soap base it the above scenario; you can use it like a crayon. I'm still not convinced the color migration isn't due to over-coloring. GPE has stocked the Neon Bright Purple for years with no reports of color bleeding. I'll do a few more test batches and report my findings.

Gifting from the Heart

This holiday I am committed to making as many gifts as possible. I'm making soaps for the grand kids teachers (which I will be sharing after Thanksgiving), complied photo books for a number of family members and just completed these framed poems.

I lost my Daddy a few years ago to cancer. The poem is a remembrance of how much he is missed by family and friends. You'll need to read the gift card to understand the purpose of the sunglasses.

The poem is printed on a background picture of my Daddy and his siblings in their youthful years. I'm gifting to my Daddy's three siblings.

The crazed holiday season is here and it's easy to get snagged into the madness of  racing from one store to the next in a buying frenzy.

 For me, gifting from the heart is making something with a particular person in mind. 

In past years, I've made monogrammed stationery sets, assembled coupon books for the grand kids to give to mommy, gifted fortune cookie soaps, filled concrete leaf soap or garden dishes with goodies... there are so many ways to give without spending a fortune.

Here are 10 ideas to get you started:
  • Friendship or Mexican Bean soup in a jar mix (there are plenty to find if you do a Google search)
  • Homemade granola
  • Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles (I'll be posting on later today)
  • Year-long Memory Jar- I did this for my mom after my Daddy passed away. I purchased a large glass jar with lid at the dollar store. I printed out 365 things for my mom to remember about my dad. She read one each day.
  • Kid's Craft Basket- fill with craft goodies for those rainy days.
  • Stay-at home movie gift basket in a popcorn tub
  • Jar of simmering potpourri (make your own, or contact me for a recipe)
  • Fabric covered boxes filled with gourmet coffee and teas
Please feel free to share your own Gifting from the Heart holiday ideas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Your Mark, Get Set, SHOP BLACK FRIDAY

Pictured above is one of the new mold designs from Mold Market. The possibilities for coloring this soap is endless. It's just one of the designs we are offering on sale for GPE Black Friday. All Mold Market molds are 20% off. Use Discount Code: MM20BF at checkout.

Here are other great BF savings starting at 12:01 AM (ET), November 24 through 11:59 PM, November 25, 2012 (ET).
  • 10% off one-ounce and four-ounce fragrance oils. No back-orders. Limited to stock on hand.
    Use Discount Code: BF10FO at checkout
  • 10% off all DVD and books.
    Use Discount Code: BF10DVD at checkout
  • First five orders received over $100 in product receive an additional 8% discount.
    Use Discount Code: 5BF100 at checkout
  • Use Discount Code: BF15SSB at checkout
  • Use Discount Code: BF10FC at checkout
**All discounts limited to stock on hand for dates noted. Coupons are stackable!

We are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, Nov 22-25th to enjoy time with family and friends. Hope you do the same.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Magic Christmas Elf: Idea #3

In my first elf post for 2012, I mentioned the elves are arriving inside personalized pillow cases this year. The pillow case will also include a holiday outfit for each grand kid. Pictured are the finished pillow cases with the iron-on transfers purchased on Etsy.

I will use red and green cording to close the bag so it looks like a Santa sack. My daughter and I are brainstorming on where to put each pillow sack in the house.

I've been hiding upcoming elfcapade items under my bed. Unfortunately, I am finding that is not such a good idea. The grandson's like to play with action figures in NeeNee's bedroom and hiding bad guys under the bed is creating a security breach in my hiding location.

Stay tuned for my ongoing 2012 elfcapade ideas.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Melt & Pour Soap Making: Waffles & Strawberries Soap

I love, love, love Mold Market's new Waffles & Strawberries soap mold. Upon arrival, my staff could barely contain their excitement. Gabby was off to the pouring room to bring this mold to life. I think you will agree, she accomplished her mission! My grand kids eat waffles for breakfast when staying for an overnight. Can't wait to see their faces when I serve this up at breakfast. How fun!

Here is what you will need to make this realistic looking soap:
Everything is poured in clear soap base (colorant added) except the pat of butter which is poured in colored white base. Drizzle melted clear soap to secure all the mold pieces. The syrup will also help keep everything in place.

So, how do you package this odd shaped soap? Good question and I will be getting back to you with some suggestions. Have do some experimenting. I have a number of ideas running around in my head and when I finalize one, I will post it.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Gobble Gobble Turkey Decoration

Tonight my 6 year old grand daughter made a special turkey for her 1st grade glass. Markers, crayons, paint and colored pencils were not allowed. You had to use things from around the house. Well, who better than NeeNee to have all the things needed to make a turkey? Yep, feathers, colored macaroni, water balloons for the wattle (appendage that hangs beneath the beak), buttons for the eyes, pipe cleaners for the feet.... it was a colorful display for Olivia's turkey.

It's a special "girls night" with Miss O. We are going to watch a "girlie" movie and then snuggle and read a bed time book. She already has the story book picked out. I love this age. I can't do anything wrong in the mind of my grand kids (except not knowing how to operate the TV remote). They love hanging and doing craft projects.

Life is good!

Melt & Pour Soap Making: Christmas Grinch Soaps

What child doesn't like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas movie or storybook? I know my grand kids do and it's a Christmas tradition to read the book at bedtime during the holiday season. This year I will make it more interesting by incorporating these soaps into the elves escapades. If you're not yet acquainted with the Magic Christmas Elves, I have posted ideas on my Pinterest board.

My grand kid's Magic Elves will leave this soap in the bath tub with a note that reads:
Rub-a-dub-dub, there's a Grinch in your tub.
He says lather up and wash off the grub
Then put on pajamas and crawl into bed
And the story of Grinch will then be read.
Each soap will be packaged in a 4 x 2 x 9" clear cello bag with the above message attached. There are a dozens of creative ways to incorporate this soap into a Magic Elf event. Your imagination is the only thing required.

Supplies needed to make this soap:
Print your image onto the GPE water dissolving paper. Trim image to fit center area of each mold cavity. Set aside.

Melt 4 ounces clear soap in the microwave. Allow to cool down to a comfortable pouring temperature. Pour off a 1/4 inch layer  into each mold cavity. Spritz the poured soap with rubbing alcohol to remove any surface air bubbles.

Once the poured soap has a thin layer, gently place the cut image face side down on the soap. You want the image to show once the soap mold is flipped over.

Slowly pour a very thin layer of clear soap over the paper image. Let the soap set until almost firm, you don't want the next "white" color layer to penetrate and bleed into the clear soap. Below is an example of how pouring at the "wrong" temperature can cause the soap to bleed or migrate into the prior layer.

It's a learning experience. The pouring temperature of each soap layer will determine the outcome of the finished soap. In the above photo, Mr. Grinch looks like he was in a snow ball fight. The white layer was poured too hot and penetrated into the first layer of clear soap.

In my opinion, the the soap was not a total failure. I would label it, "Mr. Grinch Loses the Snowball Fight".

Monday, November 05, 2012

Magic Christmas Elves: Arrival 2012

Magic Christmas Elf on the Shelf Ideas

I'm gearing up for the 2012 arrival of my grand kids Magic Elves. Every year, I devise a new arrival plan to keep things interesting. In past years, the elves have arrived by sleigh, in parachutes, and wearing ice skates. This year they arrive inside a pillow case with a Christmas outfit for each grand child.

The pillow case will be tied up like a Santa sack and hidden inside the house. The above signs will be placed in the middle of the great room floor once the kids are sleeping. The elves arrival at my daughter's house; she plans on getting up early and cracking the front door for the elves entry.

Magic Christmas Elf on the Shelf Ideas

The floor signs don't point in any particular direction, but that's the whole idea. The kids aren't sure where to start looking. The elf hiding places will be designated by Mommy and I'm sure she'll make it interesting.

I purchased inexpensive white pillow cases on Amazon along with personalized elf iron-on transfers from a shop on Etsy. I will post a picture of the finished pillow cases once the iron-on transfers arrive.

The elf arrival cards were designed and printed in MS Publisher.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Handling Multi-Task Overload

On a recent trip to Chile, I snapped a photo of communication lines in the intersection of the city. I was in total awe how such a massive number of lines could operate under user demands. It didn’t take long to understand the lines didn’t operate under the load; two blocks over, traffic was at a standstill as emergency crews scrambled to repair downed lines.

Passing the downed lines, I reflected on how I push myself to multi-task even when my brain is screaming, “OVERLOAD.” Our culture pressures us to maximize every second of the day. Just handling kids, family duties and a social life can take a toll on our quality of life. When you throw in a faltering economy and pressures of running a small business it can be overwhelming. In a pursuit to compete with the big guys, small business owners tend to operate in multi-task mode. The fury to succeed often results in a brain power outage resulting in a crash and burn situation due to overload.

Most small business owners don’t have extra staff or revenue to offset production, inventory and labor costs. I speak from experience when I say the start-up costs for a small business can make you step back and say, “What was I thinking”. If you are the sole employee, it’s likely you operate in “Multi-Task” overload on a regular basis. It’s an intimidating place to be. If you aren’t connecting with local or online support to help you work through the crisis moments, you could be doomed.

So, how does one survive multi-task overload in this age of instant technology? Here are four questions I ask myself when wires cross and an overload may be hindering the success and growth of my business.

How big do you want to grow your business?
Forget the rhetoric of business textbooks; they aren’t running your company. In my first two years of business it was suggested I curtail business growth to ensure I was able to adequately service my current customers. I was appalled. What? Turn down new business. I later learned there was credence to this advice. When you begin to experience the pitfalls of trying to be everything to everybody, the point sinks in.

Bottom line, a business can only service customers based on current inventory levels and staff. If your business is growing but you aren’t ready to employ additional staff (or the monetary burden of additional inventory), that’s OK. If you have to add a day or two to order processing, then include a discount coupon or free sample in the customer’s shipment.

 How do you interact with your customers?
It’s important to determine your ability to communicate with customers. As the owner of Mold Market, I’m not always available to take calls. I rely on my personal assistant to respond to emails and oversee customer questions/concerns. My assistant’s online interaction with customers gifts me time to grow the business and focus on marketing, designing and managing the company’s future.

If you are a home-based business, generating enough revenue to employ extra help to process orders, handle returns or answer phones is generally not an option. But that doesn’t mean you can’t provide top-notch service to interact with customers. Prompt shipping and speedy emails go a long way in generating repeat business. It is confirmation you are serious about the service or product being offered. Some of my best online experiences have been with Etsy shop owners who are raising small children while operating an online business. It’s not uncommon to hear a child’s voice in the background when placing a phone order. Should a call occur during a multi-task overload (nap-times, etc), they have no problem asking, “May I call back shortly to ensure I provide you with great customer service?”

Do you know when to delegate?
If you are a type-A personality, you know you have the driving urge to control. Even if your body and mind screamed HELP, you may not recognize the benefits of delegating. I know the personality type well, because I am the poster child.

If you want to advance your business to the next level, you must expand your capability to get things done. Failing to delegate may put a lid on the growth of your company and communicates your lack of confidence in a worker’s ability to perform a task. Here’s a good example. There was a time I processed all postal shipments fearing my workers were incapable of preparing international customs forms or selecting the correct service. It’s no secret a business can’t afford returned packages due to an address error or invalid customs paperwork.

However, when upgrading our company’s payment gateway system, I was forced to relinquish postal shipments to someone else. The change caused an increase in postal shipments I could no longer keep up. It was time to delegate. To my surprise, my workers completed postal paperwork must faster than I did. It resulted in one less “multi-task wire” for me and a realization that delegation could prove to be my best friend.
Once you have trained someone to perform a task, it is important you entrust them with total responsibility for the delegated task. It’s difficult to hand over full responsibility, but workers will never set their expertise in motion if you are hovering over their shoulders.

Are you making time for family/friends?
A sure sign of operating in overload is failing to schedule time to enjoy life. If you’re not interacting with those you love, then it’s time to rethink your mode of operation. Time to shut down the computer, cell phone and walk away from work. It’s amazing how a few hours of interacting with friends and family can help clear your mind. You may also be surprised how dismissing work for even a few hours can make a big difference in the quality of work you do.

Unlike electronic devices, our brain needs downtime. Operating in overload inhibits creativity, organizational skills, and most importantly, our ability to have fun. At what cost are you navigating the perils of multi-tasking? According to a recent Forbes magazine post, the cost may be more than you think. It’s an interesting read:

Gadget driven connectivity is undermining our ability for in-depth interactions with customers, family and friends. We have entered a faceless means of communication that just skims the surface of any real in-depth relationships. Succeeding in any online business is critical to our ability to balance the never-ending influx of data technology while continuing to nurture our interaction with people offline.

Multi-tasking can fail us. At some point, overloaded and crossed wires can crash and burn. Internet technology allows great opportunity for small businesses, but it is a 24/7 operation (with plenty of competition). One vital secret to success is recognizing when you are in multi-task overload and responding to the brain’s cry for “HELP”.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Melt & Pour Soap Making: Harvest Turkey Soaps

Thanksgiving Melt & Pour Soap Turkey Table Place Cards

Mold Market's Turkey Mold is a perfect match for a Thanksgiving table? What, you say? Soap at a dinner table? YES!!!

These soaps are ideal favors for dinner guests while also serving as place cards at the table. Purchase mini ears of indian corn at the local market. Rest each soap in front of an ear of corn. I will shrink wrap the soaps beforehand and use MS Publisher to print the guest name on the belly of each turkey.

Thanksgiving Melt & Pour Soap Turkey Table Place Cards

You can also make a table centerpiece using the turkey soaps. Insert a piece of floral foam in a decorative bowl and cover with floral moss. Shrink wrap each soap and insert a wooden skewer into the bottom of the wrapped soap. Arrange mini ears of Indian corn and faux Fall leaves in the bowl. Insert skewered soap into the arrangement.

The possibilities are endless. If you have small children attending your Thanksgiving feast, why not pre-pour these turkeys in plaster paris. You will want to do this a few days ahead to ensure that the plaster dries well and is ready for painting.

Set up a painting station for the little peeps using tempera paints (or our GoPlanet EarthTone Liquid Gels) and assorted paint brushes. They will love personalizing their own Thanksgiving turkey while dinner is being prepared.

Have some 4 x 2 x 9" cello bags and twist ties on hand for the kids to take home their finished project. Thanks to Gabby for pouring up these turkey soap samples. She did a great job!

Melt & Pour Soap Making: Cookie Monster Cupcake Soaps

Cookie Monster Cupcake Soaps

Last week, I suggested to Chelsea (one of our staffers) that we should do a cookie monster cupcake soap. I suggested a few ideas and this was her take. They turned out soooo cute!

Here's what you need:
You will find our body butter frosting recipe here.

Make and assemble the cookies. Use melted clear soap base to secure the cookie pieces. Pour the cupcake bases. Once they set up, remove from the mold and prepare the soap frosting. You can color and scent the frosting as desired.

You will need to work quickly when piping the frosting. You don't want it to set up and harden in the piping tool. I suggest working in small batches. It doesn't take long to whip the body butter. Once the frosting is piped onto the cupcake base, insert the cookie and eyes.

Note: Before piping frosting, spread a layer of clear melted soap onto the top of cupcake base. Once it hardens, it will keep the frosting from sliding around.