We’re at the very end of 2019. I am NOT going to say it was a year filled with ups and downs-the most cliche phrase of all used to describe EVERY year.
I loved 2019. Why? I think that I did a lot of growing as a human being in this year. I’ve noticed that I have become a lot quieter and (thankfully) a lot more disciplined when it comes to my work.
Ironically, this is my first blog post in months I have just been so busy with other writing that admittedly , the blog has suffered a bit. Nevertheless here we are.
This post is based on my observations hosting workshops and guiding creatives through mastering the art of soap making. There are so many teeny, tiny pitfalls you can avoid to almost guarantee that you’ll have an enjoyable time creating handmade soaps AND have beautiful, healthy soaps at the end of the process. So here’s my list of things to keep in mind on the way to becoming a master.
1. Be meticulous with the soap making process.
Soap making is a careful art. Accurate weighing of ingredients is key. If you suspect that the weight of any ingredient is inaccurate, simply weigh again.
Additionally, be clear on the process BEFORE you begin and get everything ready.
I always find that it helps to visualise each step so that you can remember even the small things. I have found that often, students who have a lot of challenges at the beginning are not appreciative of just how careful they should be with certain aspects of soap making.
Being meticulous also means, clarity regarding the final soap you are creating. Will you be looking for a thin trace, medium or heavy trace? Be clear on this. Work out the details of the creation so you understand your destination before you start.
2. Check the Fragrance oil profiles
If you have opted to include fragrance in your soap project, check the profile of that fragrance oil so you are not surprised by a strange reaction in the process. Fragrance oil retailers will be able to give sound advice on the behaviour/suitability of a fragrance oil in a cold process soap.
Does the fragrance accelerate trace for example? What kind of acceleration should be expected? Will the fragrance smell the same at the end of the process or will certain notes in the blend be more dominant at the end of curing?
Be informed about the fragrance oils that you choose. Similarly, make informed decisions about any other additive you wish to include. Will the additive add water to the recipe? Is the additive high in sugar content? If you have a thorough understanding of these things you can adjust the recipe and your expectations to suit.
3. Create your own recipes
Why not? I encourage you to create great recipes using ingredients from your space, rather than replicating every time, recipes created by someone else in a very different context. Do research and look up the benefits of the ingredients/ raw materials you see readily available and create something exciting, different and new.
4. Think of yourself as an expert
Maybe you believe you don’t have the experience yet to be an expert, but you do have a unique voice and perspective. Use it to create great products and content . See yourself through your own lens rather than through the lens of other people who are on a journey of their own (and who are often not afraid to own their process).
If you make errors, write them down, so you can avoid it the next time. As you become more and more experienced in the craft, your confidence will grow and many others can and will benefit from this. Accept every, single challenge as your opportunity to become better.
5. Go with the flow
Stop trying to dictate the process every step of the way. The process of creating something new, even handmade soaps is a give and take. Even if you do everything right, the unexpected may happen. Most people are prone to frustration when every detail does not go as planned.
As an artist, listen when the process speaks to you, knowing that everything is unfolding perfectly- just not as you saw it. Accept what is in front of you, learn from it and move on.
6. Resist trends.
Did you notice that there are trends? At one point, everybody was obsessed with pencil lines in soap bars. At another time, swirling was all the rage, yet another time, everybody wanted to do rimmed soaps. There’s really nothing wrong with trying techniques you see, but you do not have to master any trend to be an excellent soap artisan.
Instead of following trends, focus on creating original stuff. Your soaps do not have to be explosions of colour with mountain or ocean scenes to be excellent. The very best soaps I have seen are simple,well made, beautifully cut bars. Check out our Mango Puree handmade soap recipe.
7. Always remember why you are creating your own bars.
You are going through creating your own bars because the health of the skin is of primary importance. Make decisions in the creation of the bars with this as the focus.
If you compromise on the health of the skin to create your soaps, why bother to master this process? I think too many soap makers forget the aim and get carried away with all kinds of other considerations in making soaps.
If you remember to keep solving skin challenges as the goal, then a lot of considerations are immediately eliminated.
Are you for example, debating whether to include a particular ingredient in your project? How this ingredient benefits the skin should be the first (and foremost) consideration.
8. Put thought into packaging.
Far too often, packaging of the most beautiful handmade soaps is an afterthought. You raise the bar (pun intended) when the product you aim to create includes very careful thought about the packaging.
Check out the packaging on Instagram of a company called T and B soaphouse. Notice how the packaging of these soaps (quite eco friendly) really raises the quality of the final product. No shrink wrap in site, but it’s the details that matter.
So there it is. I hope this post encourages you to give yourself permission to slay this thing called soap making! We’re all on a journey to create awesome, original bars that promote the healthiest skin.
Be sure to drop a comment if you felt that this list was helpful in any way.
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