Monday, August 29, 2011

Mass Update Part I: Experimenting Around

I am not even sure where to start. I have been trying to write this post for weeks now and it just gets harder and harder everyday for some reason. But it needs to get done so that I can move forward. A lot has actually happened lately, lets see if I can get this all right.

First off, and one of the reasons I have been missing, I have officially been promoted to Head Crew Trainer at my job! It feels so amazing to be recognized at my work and I've never really gotten a promotion before. I am beyond proud and working really really hard to prove I deserve it. (My boss laughed and told me I was an overachiever like her but I need the moolah and apparently it's working out well for me!)

And in soapy news~

I have been hard at work.

First, a couple of weeks ago I left a status update on Facebook that confused a lot of my friends. I was considering the outcome of an experiment I didn't have a lot of faith in once I got going. I was attempting swirling colours, something I never ended up letting everyone on Facebook know like I promised I would but there you are. I had the same base and same flavours and colours I had had for a while but still wanted to work on something. My raspberry vanilla recipe needed some work but I didn't really want to just waste the supplies, so I decided to give something aesthetic a try. I am not always the best at visual art but I knew it was something I was going to need to practice. I looked through my books and online to try and understand if it was even something I could do with my translucent base. None of them said I couldn't swirl a clear and a colour together and I assumed it was just going to bleed together but I decided to give it a try nonetheless.

Using up the last of my organic translucent base I made a batch of vanilla and a batch of raspberry, working on my recipe at the same time as trying something new. I poured the clear vanilla into the little square molds and waited for it to cool down until it had a skin like everyone told me to do, then poured in a bit of the red raspberry into each. What I was not informed of by any of my online resources was, the common sense idea, that I needed to remove the skin before pouring.

These were very ugly little soaps.

However, on the last two, I got frustrated and poked at the vanilla base with a toothpick until the skin came off with it. The soap underneath was still liquid and beautiful so I decided to pour in my raspberry and give it a try. They had cooled a bit too much but actually turned out very pretty and I was feeling a little better about the whole idea.

I later realized that one of my books laying in my room told me exactly the right thing to do. It also told me to try pouring the two colours in at the same time. Live and learn. I stored it away for later and got on ordering new product.

I have ordered a LOT of new things lately. First off, I got some new soap base. Wanting to try for some moisturizing I order a pound of goats milk base and a pound of olive oil base from Brambleberry and as usual, it was BEAUTIFUL. The need to try different bases, of course, came from my wanting to make a special bar for my good friend Syl who reviewed my Hello Kitty soaps. She had said that it smelled and worked great but tended to dry out her hands a little bit. So I ordered the base and some oils from Tenzing Momo to make her a special gift. I ordered some rosemary essential oil, ginger essential oil, and a cherry blossom fragrance. I also decided to try some of Brambleberry's liquid pigments and bought an amethyst colour. As much as I would love to throw up a picture of everything I've gotten, a lot of it has been used and for a while my camera had been MIA. I've decided to just press on.

Too impatient to wait for her oils I decided to play around with the goats milk. What? I could always order more. I broke out the old muffin pan for lack of a better mold.

I made a simple recipe of soothing lavender vanilla for my mom who loves vanilla and could probably use a little less stress in her life. The smell of lavender was a bit strong but an easy fix for the next time. I even gave the amethyst colour a try. One drop was all it took for a beautiful, solid colour. I also gifted a bar to a friend/manager of mine who carried it around all day shoving it under everyone's noses and telling them to smell it.

But even more exciting, in the same sitting I felt a sudden surge of inspiration and created my very own scent inspired by the Almond Biscotti free sample! Amaretto. I think it's my favourite and I have had to on multiple occasions tell my family that they may not lick it.

It really is a terrible pan. I had a lot of trouble getting them out. I will need to work on that...

I wish I had more pictures to show off but they came out a little bumpy from the old pan and we used them right away.

The goats milk feels so wonderful I think any soap I make for myself will definitely have to be from it. It left my hands feeling so incredibly soft and happy and my hands go through a lot at my job. The goats milk has gotten a lot of use but the olive oil has yet to be taken out. I fully intended to give it a try but, still waiting for my oils, I decided to give swirling another try, which led to a whole different world for my soap making experiment.

To be continued...

♥ Amanda Leigh

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I sold soap.

Really I did!

The wonderful Lyssa-Face has yet to see her commissioned Raspberry Vanilla Hello Kitty Soaps that I need to find some way to transport to her but has already raved and thanked and now even paid. Does this make me a professional? Technically. But probably not really. I still wasn't sure how to charge her when I saw her at work so I asked her what she thought was fair. She handed me twenty dollars in cash. I had never even considered charging her that much but she quickly assured me that she was paying for both the finished product and 'my furthered research'.

I think I may have an investor.

♥ Amanda Leigh

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Supplies and My First Order!

I know I promised a post about face masks but that can wait. My package arrived today! I had been out on a wonderful day off from work, enjoying the sun, poking around craft stores, buying my kitty presents, and when I got home my mom immediately pointed out the package that had come in the mail. (I think she just wanted to know what was inside). The amazing Brambleberry was speedy again! Though I probably won't be buying any essential oils from the store, I have found that their fragrance section is very extensive. It helps that she is all about soap making herself. It was one of the only places I could find a good raspberry scent.

When I first made my Hello Kitty soaps a very close friend of mine, the one who got me my job actually, immediately commented that she wanted some, she wanted to buy some, and here have some alcohol so I can get you so drunk you will sign a lifelong contract with me. (I am very susceptible to vodka. Yumm.) She also let me know that she loves raspberry vanilla. It's kind of her thing. At the time I had been awaiting the arrival of my friend from Virginia and knew I would have no extra money to spend, but I found the vanilla in Seattle and a few days ago finally put in the order for the Sun-Ripened Raspberry fragrance oil. Two ounces was very inexpensive and, like the wonderful company they are, on top it I was given a free sample a Dark Rich Chocolate fragrance oil that I am really excited to use with my vanilla.

The raspberry is so big! (And the chocolate is very small.)

I also read up on colourants, not wanting to use food colouring anymore. Translucent soap bases are very good for mica powders that are, apparently very pretty and shimmery. It doesn't work as well in other bases and I really like the look of translucent in the little molded pieces so I thought mica would be perfect. Plus I have always wanted to try it. I picked a Merlot colour for it's deep red violet as opposed to the other red that was very orange. I thought it suited her and raspberry a lot better.

Before checking out I threw on ten eye droppers for cheap, not wanting to cross-contaminate. They're so big! I love it.

 I don't know why they're glowing. No, they're not magical.

Overall I only paid about twenty dollars, and that included shipping.

I could not wait to get started. So I didn't.

I was a little apprehensive about the mica at first, worried I was going to use it wrong or waste it or ruin my soap altogether. But I added it little by little as the soap melted. It seemed really chunky at first but quickly dissolved as I stirred it in. Already it was pearly and gorgeous. I added a good amount of raspberry, wanting it to be my most prominent smell and then a bit of the vanilla for an undertone. I could use vanilla all day it smelled so wonderful. However the mix wasn't strong enough and I had to add a bit more of each. I'm still not sure it's strong enough but the smell does come through. My family all really loved it. I still might add more next time. After that everything was the same as my original Hello Kitty soaps. I poured it into the molds wising I had some alcohol to burst the few airbubbles but that was just me being a perfectionist (It will be included in my next supply buy.). While shopping I had picked up a silicone mold originally intended for little brownie bites that I intend to use for little square soaps and my roommate begged me to use the extra to make her a couple of squares. I was happy to oblige.

Leaving it to set in the open on the counter, I made and ate some dinner (and got to use some of the onions from the garden!) and when I was all finished they were ready to pull from the molds.

I wish you could really see how beautiful the colour turned out.

With flash so you can see just how shiny they are.

The little squares turned out wonderful as well. I knew I would love this tray.

I am so beyond proud of what I have made tonight. My favourite by far. The recipe was all mine and turned out almost perfect. The only change I plan to make is to up the amounts on my scents. I hope Alyssa loves them because I know I do. Now I just have to figure out fair pricing. Who knows? Maybe I will be selling even more soon.

♥ Amanda Leigh

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Ingredients at Least

Yes, I've bought more ingredients and have yet to actually work on anything new. But I couldn't help myself! We were in Seattle. There was nothing I could do.

While spending the day in Seattle before dropping my friend at the airport, he mentioned wandering through Pike Place Market before leaving the city. I think we were more excited than he was at the idea once we remembered we hadn't been there in a while. We started off in search of honey sticks but the stalls on the ground level were starting to close up. We walked up and down for a while, and out in the beautiful rain looking over the stalls that were still open but we never did find any. But we tried Pluats for the first time and when Michi (also known as The Roommate) mentioned she needed to stop in at the tea shop I remembered one of my favourite parts of the market: The Apothecary. I just needed to find it.

Their first mistake was letting me lead. They ignorantly trusted me when I started downstairs and around every twist and turn after that. A few more flights down I was sure I was about to wander into Diagon Alley when Michi and Jyoudan jumped ship. He found himself a CD store and she dissappeared into a bead store where I asked the lovely woman behind the counter how to get where I was going. She turned me around and sent me back upstairs.

If you are ever looking for Tenzing Momo Apothecary in Pike Place Market walk straight in and past the throwing fish guys. You can't miss it.

Tenzing Momo is a wonderful store that I had been to before but completely forgot about. It's small and comfortable and the staff has never made me feel out of place. They go about their work, happy to help if you ask. If you make a sharp left after walking in you will find a wall of books on health and alternative lifestyles/religion. Behind the counter is their jars of countless dried herbs and teas and on the right you can find a really amazing selection of inscense, tinctures, essential oils, and related items I still plan on going through. The tinctures and oils at least are the store's brand and very fairly priced. I still have a lot of questions on the products that I didn't have the time to ask, such as how much of the actual product is made there, if they grow their own plants and if anything is organic but for now I am just happy to be buying local. I will definitely take a trip to grill them next time.

I spent a little too much time in the store but I'd spent so much time looking for it I think I earned it. I found a lot of nice things I will be buying in the future, including quite a few books I want to read, but for this trip I was excited to come out with the vanilla essential oil I have been looking for as well as a rain scent and chai spice scent. I also bought some tranquility inscense sticks but those won't be going into my soap, they just help me nap after work.

I was very glad to have found it, though Diagon Alley probably would have been just as helpful. Oh well. Until I find it I still have Tenzing Momo.

In other news, while procrastinating from writing this post I ordered, from Bramble Berry, a raspberry fragrance oil, some little eye droppers so I don't have to cross-contaminate, and merlot mica powder for colouring. (Mica powder works best for clear base) This means I have everything I need to make my wonderful friend her raspberry-vanilla Hello Kitty soaps! My first order! I hope I can make her happy! (Wow, lots of exclamation points.)

More soon with new soap and a couple of homemade face masks I had fun trying out!

♥ Amanda Leigh