October 26, 2013

The Gravedigger's Soap. And a Short Film.

In honor of Halloween, I made a batch of soap and an accompanying film that will (hopefully) creep you out.

Scary, huh? Makes you afraid to go into the shower, right? Worse than Psycho.

A bit about the soap: I started out with the skull and bone. I used a Wilton candy mold which clearly stated that it should not be used for soap. I ignored it since a) I was using melt and pour and b) I'd already bought the mold, was home and ready to start this project before I saw the warning. Nothing bad happened, although I wouldn't use the candy mold for cold process soap.

The 'grave' is over 60% olive oil pomace. I was hoping it would make a more translucent bar. To be honest, I was actually trying to replicate this fab soap from Batty's Bath. I really love how you can see the skeleton inside.  It's truly beautiful soap.
Buy this soap!

I think my batch ended up opaque because of the cocoa powder I used to get a freshly-dug-soil brown.

I might have been OK without it since I used patchouli and vanilla (and some black pepper) for fragrance and they have the tendency to turn soap brown. The scent, by the way, is absolutely perfect. I will definitely use this blend again. It's haunting and mysterious and sexy in an undead sort of way.

The 'dirt' on the top is smoked sea salt and ground walnut shells that I had kicking around in the soap cupboard. And there's lemon verbena 'grass' in there somewhere—but you can't really see it.

It's still fun soap. And maybe the fact that you can't see the skull and bone makes it a little creepier. It's more of a surprise.

I'll try blatantly ripping off Batty's Bath again next Halloween. They say good artists borrow and great artists steal. Maybe by next year, I'll become a great artist.

Have a happy Halloween, dear readers. And be sure to lock the bathroom door before getting in the tub.

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

October 20, 2013

Lavender Sonata

Sometimes I have trouble coming up with titles. My Yet Untitled Cozy Mystery is a good example of that. And I have a bunch of brilliant short stories that I can't submit for publication until I know what to call them. Artists and poets have the luxury of just using "Untitled in Red" or "Untitled #23." Novelists and short story writers can't get away with that.

And sometimes, I have trouble for coming up with names for my soap. Like this one. I couldn't just call it "Lavender." It begged for something more. But what? " Lavender Dreams" has been done to death. "Lavender Twilight" has vampire connotations. " Lavender Fields"? Eh. "Manhattan Lavender"? Yawn.

And I didn't want to do something snarky or overly clever.

And then yesterday, while going by Lincoln Center on the tour bus, it hit me: "Lavender Sonata." The swirls have kind of a musical look to them and the fragrance is a lovely melody of lavender, ho wood, orange and tea tree. And the oils I used make a harmoniously cleansing and conditioning. Yada, yada.

So presenting  "Lavender Sonata." Appearing in your shower for a limited engagement.

Now, if I can just come up with a title for My Yet Untitled Cozy Mystery.

Lavender Sonata Ingredients:
Olive oil infused w/lavender/alkanet, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter and castor oil.
French green clay.
NYC tap water.
Lavender, ho wood, orange and tea tree essential oils.

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

October 6, 2013

Shaken and Stirred: Packaged

I wanted to show off the packaging for Shaken and Stirred. Well, not the actual packaging which is just a cello bag cut in half and some incredibly expensive yarn given to me by my friend, Poppy to try my hand at felting soap (a dismal failure). It's the label that I'm so pleased with.

I love art deco fonts. I love art deco anything. Who doesn't? 

October 3, 2013

Basil, Lime and Coconut Milk

Originally, I was going to name this soap '9th Avenue' because it has all the ingredients for Thai food (coconut milk and oil, basil, lemongrass, lime, ginger) and there are a ton of Thai restaurants on 9th in Hell's Kitchen—too many really—on some blocks there're four of them. But in light of this soap's appearance, I've nixed the snarkiness and am being straightforward.

It's a rebatch of soap I'd made using some of that beeswax I'd rendered last year. I made balls with some of the overly rustic honey/beeswax soap then rolled them in powdered lime basil before embedding them. The effect just didn't work. Hideous, actually. The embeds had a regulated look to them—although the embeds I made with the same soap looked great in Plan Bee. Go figure.

So everything got shredded and melted down in some coconut milk. It's still not a pretty soap, but the coconut milk makes for a creamy lather. And it smells great. And makes your skin feel fab.

To make up for the soap's humble appearance, I package it using fabric samples that a decorating store on the Upper Eastside was tossing out. My mother was a decorator when I was growing up and she had tons of swatch books that would get tossed when the fabric was discontinued. She gave a lot of them to a neighbor who pieced the swatches into quilts and cushions. My Barbie doll house also had its fair share of brocade draperies.

The look is a little clunky (so were my Barbie's drapes), but no glue or sewing was involved and it's kind of sustainable.

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