Let's face it, getting new stuff is fun!! It seems like lately I've had more new stuff than usual.... which could be a bad thing actually, now that I put it that way. I keep catching myself in conversations with everyone saying "Ooh, did I tell you about this new thing I got? Or this other thing that does this and that? Isn't this new color pretty? I got such a great deal on these things! And you have got to smell this new fragrance!" What can I say, I am proud of all my new things. And when I get a new thing that really rocks my socks, I want everyone else to know about it too, especially all my fellow soapmakers!
|photo from Amazon.com|
A pretty new stick blender.
I'd been noticing some pesky little white spots resembling tiny air bubbles that were showing up in most all my soaps for the last month or more, and suspected that my eleven dollar no-name stick blender was the culprit behind it. (Also, it was kind of making a little whirring noise!) I discussed it with one or two other soapers, and moaned and groaned about it to anyone who would listen (1. my honey, and 2. my kitty cat). Then there was also a thread started on Teach Soap forums during that time by someone else with a similar problem. All sorts of possibilities were bounced around, and in the end I decided to just go ahead and buy a new stick blender to see if it made a difference.
Bramble Berry carries a "Perfect Pink Stick Blender" that I've had on my wishlist pretty much ever since it was added to the site, but it always fell by the wayside when I placed order after order, usually losing out to something way more fun. Like glitter. But lucky for me, I had a Amazon gift card I'd been trying to spend literally forever but could never decide what to buy, so I found the same stick blender there and bought it post haste!
Y'all...........the difference is amazing. It's like when you always buy the store-brand cereal because it's cheaper and probably just as good anyway, until one day you bite into the real Lucky Charms and realize you've been a blind chincy fool all along! I immediately noticed a quicker, smoother trace and virtually zero air bubbles (with proper burping of course). Also I can fit the nozzle into smaller containers than my old plastic-cased one, it is vastly easier to clean, and feels less clunky in my hands. Oh, and it's pink, did I mention that? ;)
A heating pad.
I always like to gel my soaps, mostly because I prefer to use silicone loaf molds, and it makes the unmolding much easier by creating a harder soap (in addition to using sodium lactate and a slight water discount), and also because it seems to make pretty colors pop even more. Lately though, especially since I've started creating higher tops on the soaps and therefore not covering them with cling wrap, I'd been having a good bit of trouble actually getting my soaps to gel no matter how much I insulated them. I'm sure a good bit of that had to do with the weather we're experiencing this summer. We've been running the A/C a lot lately, so the apartment stays pretty cool, and I couldn't really find a surface to place them on out of direct air vent flow. (Who knows, this could have also contributed to those mystery white spots!)
I tried oven processing to force gel phase once, and was really not happy with how the surfaces of the soap turned out, so I didn't want to do that again (though I might eventually try it again since I rid myself of the old stick blender). But I remembered reading before that some soapers use heating pads, like the ones you might use for a shoulder or back ache. So I picked one up at Wal-Mart for less than twelve dollars, and used it this week for 2 two-pound batches with great success. I varied the setting from medium to high heat for one to two hours, watching for automatic shutoff, and am thrilled to report that both soaps hardened up a good bit and popped right out of the molds with no trouble with brilliant colors. Yay, I'm gelling again!!
LUSH dupe fragrances!!
I love love love LUSH products, like their Curly Wurly coconut creme shampoo and Marshmallow bath fizzies, and the unique fragrances they use. Through the recommendation of a forum buddy, I picked up three one ounce fragrance oils I didn't know about from Nature's Garden last week that are dupes of some great popular products sold at LUSH stores. Those three are Rockin The Stars, Yeah For Yummy, and Honey Bunny. So far I have only soaped Yeah For Yummy, which I am in loooove with, and it turned out strong and true at only 1/2 ounce per pound of oils. Very happy with this one, and will be ordering a 16 ounce size soon! The other two smell so good out of the bottle too, and I can't wait to get them in my soaping pot. I'll update with photos soon!
I picked up some new silicone molds both from HappyDIY on Etsy and from Bramble Berry this month too. They are absolutely adorable, and I can't wait to use them both in current and holiday projects that I have boiling in my brain. Check em out!
|Christmas tree stamp and new holiday molds!|
I tested these molds while working on some small melt and pour projects today, and I am in love with the gift boxes, candy and tree! So cute!! I was hoping to use the tree mold for cold process soapmaking too, but I've never used a 3D mold for CP before, and this one is quite deep, so I imagine I need to do a bit of research before attempting it!
|photo from BrambleBerry.com|
Also new from Bramble Berry, I finally got one of their 9-Ball Silicone Molds to use for shaping embeds, as I seem to suck at free-forming them. :( I used a bit of unscented uncolored soap off a CP batch I made this week to try it out, and all the balls popped out smoothly the next night using my usual recipe without gelling, except for the one in the very center that I did smoosh just a little....
More pretty colors!
It's no secret that I am a huge fan (read glutton) of TKB Trading's mica and pigment soap colorants, and I've been picking up several of their affordable sample sizes every so often in a search for more pretty. What might be a secret to people reading this though, is that Kaila Westerman from TKB also operates an Etsy shop called The Coloration Station, where she has been listing discontinued and tested, or used, micas and pigments, containers and other cosmetic supplies for unbelievable prices almost every weekday between 1 and 3pm PST for the last couple of weeks. You'll need to be quick with your fingers though, the most appealing listings fly out of the shop faster than you can say chromium green oxide! For fifteen dollars, I have picked up 25 bottled and baggied colorants and glitters that I couldn't be happier with for use in both cold process and glycerin soaps, including their famed Pop Mica collection, which is no longer offered on their website for sale.
|One of my hauls from Kaila's Etsy shop, TKB's discontinued Pop|
Micas. Photo from Pigmentlady on Etsy
I picked up a one pound bag of soy wax for candle making a while back because I'd bought some metal tins I didn't really have a purpose for (smart, I know). A lot of my friends and coworkers had asked me several times if I made candles too, or if their favorite soap scent was also available in candles. It seemed like a logical secondary craft to pick up, seeing as how I have all these fragrance oils already! After all, I do catch myself breathing in a little deeper every time a soap I've made has filled the house with it's heavenly aromas, so why not capture it in a candle. It's actually pretty neat to be looking at fragrance oils from a different angle now, checking reviews of their performance in soy. Researching wicks, containers and different kinds of waxes has been really fun!
Anyway, that first small batch of candles was surprisingly easy and fun, actually relaxing! It went smoothly, with five Cafe Caramel and five natural lemongrass, grapefruit, and patchouli blend candles being made and handed out to some friends for feedback. So far it's all been good, and they're all a little partial to the lemongrass. (Interesting, it's never been my favorite EO...) And my mom picked up the interest as well and offered to buy more supplies if I would help her get started. Woohoo free-for-me fun!
You can see how my friends, family and coworkers are bored to tears by my conversation lately.......
See anything you've had your eye on? Are there any brand new soaping supplies that have changed your life?
Thanks for reading!