Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Madness is This?

We are always ready for a challenge and this was no exception.  Experimentation has yielded some really great soaps over the years, as well as helped us improve our techniques and efficiency.  I'm not sure where this one will lead, but it was fun and interesting.

In a quest for ingredients, we managed to acquire what I guess can best be described as the dregs from brewing beer.  After the beer has been brewed and the liquid has been strained out of the grains, this is what is left...

Tina dug right in and started squeezing and straining the liquid that was left in the grains.

We weighed out some of the trimmings from our soaps - a little bit of everything we make - and put them in an electric roaster.

Then, we poured some of the "beer" over the trimmings and set it to "roast."  This reheating of soap bits is called rebatching.

We also ground up some of the solids from the beer dregs and added them to the soap to make it a bit scrubby.

In a couple of hours, this is what resulted....   Looks pretty good, huh?

We added some fragrance.  In this case we used Citrus Sage, a yummy unisex scent that we really like. We don't use it in any of our regular soaps, but we often have various scents around to try out. Then we  "glopped" the cooked soap into a mold.

The next morning, the soap came out of the mold.  Because this "batter" is much stiffer when it is placed in the mold, fissures and pits often form.  It is a bit more moist than our usual soaps, also a bit softer and so...

We waited another day to cut the soap into a bit larger size than our normal bars.  It will need to dry out a bit more and I will stamp our quilt stamp on each bar.  

These soaps will not be a part of our line...  they are somewhat experimental. This will be a "hearty" soap.   They will be available as soon as they are ready on my sister's website,  The Essential Herbal.

We have a new rebatch in the mold as I type and I'll post that one with much less detail later!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Elder Gathering

Sometimes I get involved in things other than soap. 

One of the things I enjoy is helping my sister by doing the layout for her magazine The Essential Herbal.  We owned an herb shop a number of years ago and have many friends in the herb world.

Recently, a few of us got together to write a book about Elder/Elderberries.  Elder is slated to be the herb of the year 2013, so our timing is pretty good.  This is available only in PDF form and after receiving your order, it will arrive in your email within a short time.

So, come along and join us, a group of long-time friends, as we share our favorite uses for elder flowers and berries. We’ve even got a few uses for leaves and wood! Learn about growing, harvesting, preserving, making medicine, delicious dishes and tantalizing teas all using this very versatile native plant. Over 30 recipes, remedies and crafts are included, along with light-hearted folklore and lots of pictures to help you identify Elder. We’re certain that soon you’ll love the Elder as much as we do, and be finding a place for one (or more) in your yard or garden.

40 pages, 8 ½ x 5 ½ format. $5.00 Written by Michele Brown, Susanna Reppert Brill, Susan Hess, Betty Pillsbury, Tina Sams and Maryanne Schwartz

If you are interested, you can purchase the PDF through my jewelry website.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Classes at Lancaster County Soapworks

When we had a full time herb shop, we used to give a lot of classes. We still go out to various groups and give talks and sometimes workshops and demonstrations. This year, we decided to offer a series of classes right here at our home base.

Yesterday's class was "Kitchen Cosmetics" and we had a great time making simple, natural skin care products and trying them out.

Here are some of our "students" giving the pore cleansing lotion a try...

We had a great time making a selection of products and everyone got a goodie bag filled with samples to take home..

If you would like to join us, the classes and signup information are all listed on my sister's webpage, The Essential Herbal.

Next week (Feb 11) is "Soapmaking" followed by "Balms and Salves" on the 18th, with a number of other classes/workshops to follow.

I'm not sure if we will be doing this again, so if you would like to join in the fun, do it now!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

And we begin again!

Each year, after the holiday rush, I somehow manage to convince myself that we won't have any business for a couple of months! Well, back in the very early days, it was like that since at the time most of our customers were tourist related businesses. But, not any more.

We were well stocked before the holidays and between the shop and late orders coming in in December and early January ...

The shelves are bare!

Luckily, it doesn't take us long to get things looking healthy again around here.

Yesterday, we melted and weighed fats for 16 batches and this morning, I prepared the lye and additives for 8 batches of soap... The lye must cool before we are ready to make the soap.

We'll be making 2 batches of Patchouli, 2 of Lavender, 1 Wise Woman, 1 Double mint, 1 Goats milk and 1 Lilac.

I think some shops are already starting to think ahead to spring because Lilac is one of the spring scents and although it sells all year around, it is starting to pick up for spring already.

While I was at it, I lined the molds - and we are ready to go.

We have some soap to wrap, so we probably won't be making soap until late this afternoon, but it's really nice to have everything ready to go instead of putting in a full day first and then having to get everything ready to make the soap.

Sometimes it seems to be a never-ending job keeping the soap shelves stocked, but luckily they sell out fast and we are kept busy. It just never seems that we reach the end, just always new beginnings!