February 2, 2014

Junk Soap and a New Direction

This will be my last post on Subplot Soap. I'm wrapping up this blog and this stage of my soap making adventures and focusing on Deathbed of Roses, the first book of The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries.

I'll still be making soap, but I'll be working on recipes that will be included in the book(s) and on my new blog. 

Since I'll be making less soap, I decided to clean out my soap cabinet and make a batch just for myself using all the odds and ends, scraps and leftovers from other projects. The olive oil I used was a combo of tiny amounts I'd infused with woad, rhubarb, lady's bedstraw and charcoal. There are also small amounts of sesame seed oil, cocoa butter and lard.

Instead of water I used 100% reduced booze—sweet vermouth and sangria. Lots of sugar in this baby. The lather should be insane.

Of course, I ran the whole thing through SoapCal and tweaked my amounts of coconut oil, castor etc…

For the fragrance I used the last of my champagne from Bramble Berry, some pink grapefruit and a little patchouli. Love it. It's like a hippie pop star.

I poured the mixture over a bunch of leftovers and scraps.

It was very liberating cleaning out my cabinet—and I think it'll be great soap. It was also very liberating not to care what the soap looked like or how straight I cut the bars since it was just for me.

My goal is to have the first draft of Deathbed of Roses finished by the time my junk soap has cured.

Thank you all for reading Subplot Soap for the past two years and I hope you start following The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries. They'll be some fun soap recipes, tutorials, tips and hints. And maybe a dead body or two.

December 30, 2013

Marketing Strategy Part 2: Lavender Rave

One of the many great things about making soap is you can easily change what you call it and how you market it.

This started out as Lavender Mosh Pit, but when I realized mosh pits are as much a part of the past as answering machines and record stores, I updated it.

I'm not sure this actually reflects what a rave is like. I've never been to one. I'm much too old.

Made with olive oil pomace infused with lavender/alkanet/charcoal, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, lard and castor oil.

Fragrance: lavender, lemongrass, ho wood, may chang, sage and rosemary.

Marketing Strategy Part 1: Lavender Mosh Pit

I had this whole punk rock thing in mind when I made this batch.

It's a collage—like the posters we made back in the 80's with letters cut out of magazines and and photos of Ronald Reagan. I used all the bits and pieces of every lavender-based soap I had hanging around my kitchen (including an entire batch of lavender castile soap that was going to become this year's Be My Guest Soap, but I just never got around to doing it).

The fragrance blend (which includes rosemary, may chang, sage, lemongrass and ho wood) is more energizing than relaxing, almost aggressive. It definitely ain't Yardley's.

I cut it, cured it, labeled it using an adorable punk rock font (no more cutting letters out of magazines!), wrapped it in a ripped up black t-shirt fastened with safety pins, spent an entire afternoon trying to get the right photo (it's not a very photogenic soap)—then realized the people buying this soap will most likely not be old punk rockers such as myself. Kids today don't know a mosh pit from a Ramones picture disc. They weren't even born yet when Sid killed Nancy.

I learned a valuable lesson from my Mommie Dearest soap: sometimes you can be too clever and snarky. It results in dismal failure.

So the punk rock theme got trashed. Eighty-sixed. The soap was renamed for this generation, relabeled using a hip and trendy font and rewrapped in black vinyl (a tablecloth from the 99 cent store) and fastened with lavender rubber bands.

And so I present to you and everyone under forty: Lavender Rave

December 14, 2013

Milk and Honey

This might be my new favorite soap. Rich, creamy—unscented—but the gorgeous scent of honey, oatmeal and cocoa butter comes through. My skin actually seems to crave washing with it. I don't know if that's actually possible.

I chilled the lye and let the oils cool to room temperature to avoid scorching and volcano effects. Both the honey (3 ounces for 70 ounces of oils) and powdered milk (3 teaspoons) were added at trace and both dissolved in warm water. Powdered oatmeal sprinkled on top. After pouring it into the mold, I set it near an open window—again to avoid overheating.

I'm a little shocked at how white the bars turned out. I was thinking the honey would turn more amber. I'm wondering if the honey has a low sugar content. I don't know if that's actually possible either.

If you like this blog, check out my new one: The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries

December 11, 2013


Maverick is available at Fine and Dandy
on 49th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues
in lovely downtown Hell's Kitchen.
I outdid myself on the fragrance for Maverick—although I didn't write down the amounts of the different oils I used, so I'll never be able to re-create it. Perhaps that makes it all the more special.

It starts with earthy sandalwood, cedarwood, tobacco and just a touch of patchouli. There's a subtle spiciness from black pepper. Top notes of bergamot, rose and orange and vanilla to round it all out.

It's gentlemanly, but far from being uptight and stiff. Think Cary Grant and Tony Bennett. Smooth, sophisticated. An independent thinker who makes his own rules and isn't afraid to break them.

Funny, when I make soap for men, it seems like I'm making soap for men who I'd like to date. Maybe I should slip my phone number under the soap label. You never know.

Vintage Champagne

You can buy Vintage Champagne
at Fine and Dandy on 49th Street
(between 9th and 10th Avenues) in Hell's Kitchen.

Making soap with Champagne might become an end of the year tradition for me.

Last year's was made with Moët & Chandon White Star. This year's is André's Pink—although I beg to differ if it really can be called Champagne since it's from California, not Champagne. I think it should actually be labeled 'sparkling wine.' But I'm no authority.
Last year's batch was scented with almond fragrance oil that wasn't formulated to use in soap and seized the batch. This year I blended almond and Champagne fragrance oils (and some may chang essential oil) I got from Bramble Berry. The Champagne doesn't really smell like Champagne to me, more like 7UP—but it actually smells effervescent.  The blend ended up very lively and fun. A little celebration in a bar of soap. And no seizing.
I did have a happy accident with this batch though. Note the crackling effect. That's from using titanium. It overheated. But I think it's quite pretty. It gives it that real vintage look. Ironically, the titanium didn't make the bar super white. Go figure.

If you like this blog, check out my new one: The Haley Maxwell Soap Making Mysteries

December 5, 2013

Citrus Bang Beach Bars

I really like the concept of using embeds with a fragrance that compliments the fragrance in the overpour. I think it ends up smelling different than if you simply blended the fragrances together—the scents seem…crisper, more pronounced.

I also like the idea of using leftovers.

Citrus Bang Beach Bars have embeds leftover from my Verbena Beach Bars (lemon verbena, holy basil, may chang, bergamot, grapefruit and ginger essential oils). The annatto-orange is an overpour fragranced with orange, may chang, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary essential oils and a little spearmint fragrance oil.
Quite fab.

Update on my Yet-Untitled-Cozy-Mystery: I've come up with a bunch of titles—not ready to share with you, gentle readers, but have submitted them to my writing workshop. Looking forward to getting feedback.