All images and text are ©Artisan Soaps so please don't steal them &/or claim as your own!

31 March 2010

Vanilla Files (part 7)

Ok finally got the pics ready to share - I had open a new flickr account because the last one is full!

To recap, the Fragrance Oils I've used below were all purchased from the wonderful Karen @ Big Tree Supplies in Australia, who stocks from many of the well known places in the states such as:
  • Bitter Creek North (BCN)
  • The Candle Source (TCS)
  • Day Star Supplies (DSS
  • Natures Garden (NG)
  • Elements Bath & Body (EBB)

And I'm very excited to say that I've got some more Vanilla's on the way to be soaped/photographed & added very soon! Including some from Bramble Berry (BB) ..

So these bars are all coming up to their 6wk cure date VERY soon (next week) and I'll then begin doing lather tests to determine:
  • if the discolouration also discolours the lather
  • if the scent morphs &/or comes alive in the water
  • if the scent sticks to the skin

I apologise that the lighting in these is not always the same due to being photographed outdoors and at differing times of day etc, but I hope it gives you an idea of how they each progressed over the last couple of weeks .. Some you can see discolour very rapidly, while others take weeks - months even!

DAY #1 (freshly cut)
Day 1
DAY #2
Day 2
DAY #3
Day 3
DAY #4
Day 4
DAY #14 = Today!
Day 14

Comments, Questions, & Feedback is Welcomed! ♥
And ALL the Vanilla File posts can easily been found via this page: THIS PAGE

28 March 2010

Mica Mess (2)

These are some more of the coloured batches I showed yesterday

** Holly the pink stars were actually Neon Purple Pigment - yeah go figure? I had no idea it would turn pink! But then as I say the white was originally super 'Dark Blue' .. And I also used Copper, Bordeaux, Patagonia Purple, Grape, Amethyst, & Majestic Green Mica .. The purpose of these batches:
(greens a lot nicer than this image makes out, it's just a grotty gray cloudy day)

PS: Vanilla Updates tomorrow!

27 March 2010

Making a Mess with Mica ..

Sooo .. I've been playing with Mica this week, and making a hell of a mess:

For very little result :(

Yeah I guess they look 'OK'.. Only not so much considering they were deep intense colours - like Plum Wine Red, and Dark Blue (those white ones at the back) to start with .. I literally watched all the colour fade out of these as they set up in the moulds, and could have cried ..

Thankfully I did have one soaping success which made up for this loss .. And it's one I hope to repeat many times over in the future .. If you haven't already tried Bramble Berrry's Toasted Rice FO - DO! It's soooo yum that if it stays true and strong in my bars I will be using it to replace my favourite OMH .. Yep it truly is that good ♥

18 March 2010

Vanilla Files (part 6)

I'm eager to do the lather tests on these so I cut a bar off each in preparation .. I love cutting soap - it was exciting to see what each slice would expose!

From The Top (in same order)


Scent Reviews
* = my 5 top picks (so far)

Vanilla Abricot (DSS)
- Getting stronger, what people 'expect' when you say Vanilla scented

Musk Vanilla (NG)
- Not overpowering but definite Musk. I don't smell any 'Vanilla'

Vanilla Bean (DSS)
- Almost a generic Vanilla scent, with a slight 'plastic' to it

*Drizzled Honey Vanilla* (DSS)
- Still really interesting and very hard to describe. I describe BRV as Summer in the garden, which makes DHV Summer sitting down at the river watching bees hover in the wild flowers!

Marshmallow Fluff (DSS)
- Sugary sweet, a cooking scent. It really smells like Marshmallow but unfortunately isn't very strong

*Black Raspberry Vanilla* (NG)
- I'm loving this, smells just like Summer in my garden :)

- This still smells 'sweet' to me, not soapy at all! Interesting note is that it also seemed to cut cleaner than any other bar, as though it is somehow 'harder' yet the recipe was exactly the same, including Lye strength.

Vanilla de Madagascar (DSS)
- Another sweet cooking scent, deep/rich buttery even - but not very 'strong'

*Pink Sugar* (TCS)
- Still YUM! I have people gravitate to this bar and keep sniffing, unwilling to try others and going back to it when forced to, lol ..

Very Vanilla (BCN)
- I need to look back and see if this was the one giving off Almond notes when first poured as I can now pick it up again (ever so faint). But honestly, the first thing that I'd describe this as is 'it's like sniffing your TV remote!'. Sorry but this is an Epic FAIL in my opinion .. Edited to add: yes it was the almond one!

Vanilla Bean Noel (DSS)
- Much lighter than I'd like, but sweet/sugary, a little buttery, almost like caramel actually

Buttercream Frosting (DSS)
- Weird, when I just picked this up now I thought 'wow is that coconut I smell?'. If told the name I do get a 'feel' of cake frosting, but I think it's got a touch of plastic too

*Vanilla Sandalwood* (EBB)
Mmm Yeah Baby - I'm so down with this scent, but I guess you'll know that by now 8P

Warm Vanilla Sugar (TCS)
- I find this very faint, alight sweet perfume scent, a Pink Sugar wannabe?

I'm going to order some Vanilla samples from BB to add in the future, but again if anyone has 15ml of a Vanilla FO not listed here and is willing to send my way, I'd love to soap them and add the results to this list ..

And if you have a question regarding any of the above bars, please do leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer or show you ;)

17 March 2010

DIY Coconut Cave (for fish tank)

I'm thrilled so many people liked the marble soak idea, and yes it really does feel great so I hope you try it!

I must say though, it was my sister who taught me the trick .. Many years ago when I was still living in Australia, we used to team it up with a face mask, a bottle of wine, some munchies, a pack of tarot cards, and maybe a video or two .. That's the ingredients for what I'd call the perfect girls night in :)

And since I'm on a roll with flashbacks from the past, Krissy's comment about pinching marbles out of the fish-tank reminded me of a little clip I made for YouTube a couple of years back .. Though it might be fun to share it here too:

(btw) The cave is still in use, still looking fab, and still popular with the fish ..

*Update on Vanilla's tomorrow, I promise!

16 March 2010

"Bring Me Your Marbles!"

(aka) My Sweet Feet Treat ..

It's the end of Summer here in New Zealand which means my poor feet have been seriously neglected for months on end .. And anyone who knows me knows I run around bare footed 90% of the time, no matter if that's indoors, out in the garden, down at the beach, or on hot city streets!

Yep they were looking pretty nasty, all rough and cracked .. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to do some pampering ..

Step #1 - ask son to gather up all his marbles and put them into a clean bucket, wash thoroughly and remove any that are broken or chipped
- this is VERY important!

Step #2 - fill bucket with warm water and set down on a mat
somewhere you can comfortable rest for the next 30-60 minutes ..
Don't forget a towel for when you're done soaking ..
(you can add salt, essential oils, or other bath goodies if you wish)

Step #3 - soak feet in water, rubbing them over the marbles to massage .. I like heaps of marbles so they rub up the sides and on top too ..
You're right, they are very hairy legs .. Whadda ya expect from a hippie?

Step #4 - use a pumice stone to rub off any rough patches and smooth the outsides of cuts etc .. I do this twice to each foot twice, soaking again in between to keep the skin soft .. Trust me it's too gross to show you pics of!

Step #5 - apply your favourite scrub or maybe some dead sea mud/clay mask or what have you .. Then rinse off and pat dry before doing Step Six ..

Step #6 - today I applied a new lotion bar rich in Shea Butter, Olive Oil, and Rose Geranium Essential Oil to aid the healing of the cracks
Shea Rose Lotion Bars
Shea Rose (solid lotion bars)

Step #7 (optional) - Clip/File &/or Paint toenails

Only to be honest I'm really not a fan of solid lotion bars *shrugs* they're just not my thing .. The texture of thick balm on my skin really wiggs me out to the point I need to wash it off with soap .. Even with cornflour I find them greasy (as in straight Shea), and they never seem to fully absorb in ..

So anyway, I coated each foot with these and their not too bad, but after ten minutes I rubbed off the excess with a towel and applied my favourite Body Butter which incidentally my feet love *winks*

14 March 2010

Manuka Honey Hand Crème

Following on from yesterdays post about Nerys Purchon and the lessons she taught me, I started thinking about some of those other Wonderful Wild Women who have influenced my life and lead me on parts of my journey .. Susan Weed, Jacki French, Valerie Ann Worwood, to name just a few ..

So I decided to make something inspired by their generous natures; their love of the land, plants, natures healing gifts; their examples of looking close to home to find what you need .. And most importantly, the beauty in keeping things simple ..

I'm super happy with the result which is this gorgeous, unscented, uncoloured Emulsified Body Butter .. Rich with local Manuka Honey & Olive Oil, a new Emulisfying wax I'm testing (Emulsifier E: cetearyl glucoside & cetearyl alcohol), UNrefined Cocoa Butter (smells sooo good), & NZ Spring water ..

I kid you not it looks, smells, feels, and absorbs into the skin LOVELY!
Oh alright, I admit it, I even know for a fact that it tastes good *blushes*

- of course I don't recommend anyone try that as I seriously doubt ewax and Liquid Germal Plus are safe to consume, but it was just a dab on my finger because I was curious and seriously couldn't resit .. Did I mention it smells fantastic?!

Honey & Chocolate Body Butter

But as you know, no matter how good a formula is, or that the goal was to stay simple, I tweak .. So the first round of tests went something like this:


  • Base + Natrasorb Bath
  • Base + Cyclomethicone
  • Base + Lactic Acid
  • Base + Liquid Silk
  • Base + Hydrolysed Wheat Protein

With somewhat surprising results .. I also have Cornflour, Dimethicone, Combo's of the above, and a bunch of extracts to try ..

And carrying on the theme of supporting locally made, I packaged it in another recycled container .. I've been buying this NZ Lavender hand cream for myself and as gifts for gardening friends for years - at $17 a pop ..


Is mine Crème better? Honestly, yes I think it is!

13 March 2010

Nerys Purchon ..

Who's that? Well she's the lady that helped me make my very first home-made skin care product!

Waaaay back when I was a new mum, living in Perth, Western Australia, and dreaming of living off the land with a permaculture garden providing food and a herb garden bringing in income to buy what we couldn't make, I bought her book 'Bodycraft' .. I actually bought it after spending the day at her Rivendell Farm where I'd spent hours walking through and photographing the spectacular herb gardens, eating sumptuous food at the restaurant (freshly made berry ice-cream = Mmmm), tasting the local wines (yep bought a couple bottles of red); and that was also my very first introduction to Aromatherapy as I could smell lemon and lavender coming from the consultation rooms .. In fact, believe it or not I still have all the little brochures I picked up from the shop that day as they are so packed full of fascinating information - way more than your average sales flyer, and this is going back 19-20yrs now!

Yes, to say I was inspired and impressed is a huge understatement ..

So 'Bodycare' is the book that first educated me on the basics of simple home-made skin care .. As well as Tooth Powders, Soap, Hand Cream, Herbal Infusions, Perfumes, Balms, Aromatherapy, Masks - you get the idea .. And I must have read it a million times, it's amazing it's still held together actually!

Anywho, today I just happened to be flicking though it yet again and I thought that I really MUST track down a copy of her other book called 'Foodcraft' as I've always wanted it but never found a copy available - of course last time I looked was a few years prior to the internet, lol ..

Well it wasn't easy but I found a 2nd hand copy in Australia, and I also found out Nerys passed away on January 15th this year .. Wow :(

If only this had occurred to me sooner I could have let her know how helpful her sharing has been to me .. I would have loved to have connected with her via her blog, or bought a little something from her Etsy store ..

Now all I can say is Rest In Peace Nerys
- you will be missed by family, friends, and people you never even met ..
gb cem ©Artisan Soaps

12 March 2010

Orange Creamsicle Body Powder

I mixed this up today and OMG(osh) it smells YUM!!
Plus it's sooo cheap and easy to make that I just have to share ..
  • 50 gram Arrowroot Powder
  • 25 gram Corn (Maize) Flour
  • 25 gram Kaolin Clay
  • 10 drops Orange Creamsicle (FO) blended into 1 teaspoon of Natrasorb Bath
Mix the lot together & put through a sifter a couple of times ..

I stored mine in an old Chai Tea powder container & used a hot pin to put holes in the top .. The scent from the container works so well with the Creamsicle that I think I'll add a few drops of Chai FO next time to get it again ..

Body Powder ©Artisan Soaps
{click for full size}

Oh and one more thing, I added a few grains of whole rice just to make sure it doesn't clump :D

10 March 2010

Riding The Waves ..

I kind of regret deleting this mornings early post .. I'm just not sure what to share and what to keep to myself, but I want people to know I very much appreciated the comments that were left ..

B & I connected again briefly today, just letting each other know that there is still plenty of love between us, and that we will continue to think/wonder about each other in years to come .. I guess it's hard to dis-entwine when you have been involved with someone on such a level for so long .. And I'm so grateful that we said "enough" before that love gave way to anger and resentment ..That in itself feels like a precious gift to me ..

So I'm alternating between tears and numbness .. Trying desperately to focus my mind of other things but failing miserably .. And I'm reposting this clip as I just can't get the song out of my head .. I'm so hollow baby, I'm so hollow ..

I even tried walking on the beach, and taking photo's .. Only the whole world looks glum through my eyes just now ..

09 March 2010

Vanilla Files (part 5)

Sorry I'm late getting this up, I took yesterday off to recover from a super full on week-end that included having my back windscreen smashed to millions of pieces while driving alone up the top of a mountain, and ending an 8yr relationship .. Yeah .. Anyhoo one can be replaced and the other is probably better for both of us, even if it doesn't feel it right now ..

So because time is limited I decided to take a slither off each bar today and compare them that way - click on the image to see it full size!
Vanilla 9.3.10 ©Artisan Soaps
and please ignore my spelling, especially (Unscented?!)
- these things happen when you rush ..

*Next Monday I'll update the scent descriptions ;)

06 March 2010

Full Bloom & Beyond ..

I was just having a mooch around the garden (pretty much all I do out there lately aside from hang laundry and soak in the hot tub) when I came to my 'Purple Flowering Shrub' growing in half a wine barrel ..
Tibouchina urvilleana ©Artisan Soaps
The petals had fallen, lay scattered about,
yet it's beauty remains in full bloom ..

Oh My that sounds corny, lol *shrugs* I just type it as I think it ..

You really can't appreciate the beauty of this 'dead flower' at this size so please click on the image to see a larger one .. And for the record the pink/purple in the top right is actually my house - I'm loving how well the colours match :)

05 March 2010

Watermelon Body Polish : Good Enough To Eat ..

New Oils New Oils - How exciting, some of my new supplies arrived .. And as well as the basics like Emulsifying Wax, Macadamia Oil, Kaolin Clay etc, I got a few new Fragrances to try out - one of which was a Watermelon ..

I REALLY wanted to move onto making body powders this week but I don't have a flour sift, so I continued to work on my scrub formula .. This one included the solid Coconut Oil instead of Fractionated like I talked about in my last post .. And I decided to try reducing it by 50% of what I'd previously added .. So less but more, volume wise (not weight) that is, are you following?

I tested it out and so far so good .. It left a nice fine film on my skin, and a very clean (oil/scum) free tub with no more effort than a splash of cold water to send a few stray Jojoba Spheres on their way .. Which is quite remarkable as I even put the plug in trying to create an obvious line, which didn't happen .. And I purposely used a white towel to see if any colouring (Mica) would transfer - nope, nothing ..

Obviously it needs at least 24hrs to fully set up, but I'm very happy with it and think it's a great success!

WMS ©Artisan Soaps

These photo's make it look a bit softer than it is .. You can easily spread this out on your hands to apply, but it's firm enough that it won't drip everywhere = just right (imho) .. And it really looks and smells like Sorbet, which was exactly what I was aiming for :D

WaterMellon Scrub ©Artisan Soaps

03 March 2010

Tweak Tweak ..

I admit it, I'm a tweaker .. And NO that is NOT a drug reference!

I think it's just my nature to try adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that .. It's how I cook, it's how I paint, it's how I make soap/lotion/balm/scrubs, and it's how I learn ..

So I decided to tweak my new scrub formula, yep the very same one I said I loved just a couple of days ago .. I wanted to make it a tad softer as we're heading into winter here and it was setting up quite firm .. So I mixed up a new batch with extra Fractionated Coconut Oil and Oatmeal Milk & Honey FO, Jojoba Meal (smaller than regular spheres), & Mixed Spice:

OMH ©Artisan Soaps
Yet it's left me unimpressed ..

I'm not sure if I went a little heavy handed with the FO or it's just irritating my sinuses because I have a flu and they're already feeling raw .. But it's definitely too runny (read: oily), and unlike my previous one this did leave a slight slippy feeling in the tub that would require cleaning for safety's sake ..

  • reduce extra oil%
  • try a firmer oil like Coconut or Shea/Mango Butter
  • up the sugar/exfoliant %
  • up the emulsifying wax

Adding extra sugar was the easiest thing to do (so I did), but of course that doesn't solve the slip factor which is of super high important to me!

So the oil needs to come back down (cheaper than upping the wax), and likewise I really can't justify using more $expensive$ butter in a wash off product .. So I think my next move is to try common Coconut Oil (semi solid at room temp) .. The bonus of this plan is I've already got HEAPS of it because I bought in bulk before figuring out my skin doesn't respond well to CO in soap (unless we're talking salt bars) .. I'll also halve the extra amount I put in, and if the residue remains on the tub I'll eat the cost and up the Emulsifier too ..

**Internet cookies to everyone who comments but doesn't mention how many times I write 'so' in a single post .. Sooo embarrassing (but not enough to edit) :P

02 March 2010

Vanilla Files (part 4)

Sorry it's taken me until now to post these, life is busy, I have the flu, and I'm feeling all round extraordinarily exhausted!

(embedded images are from last week, to compare)



Musk Vanilla has some interesting exterior colour morphing going on:

No change with Vanilla Abricot,
but the Ash is growing on me :P
Lots of colour variation with the Vanilla Bean!




A couple are missing as there is really no colour change at all in these; Unscented, Black Raspberry Vanilla ..

**Scent Updates**
(I swear they smell different throughout the day! So if I contradict myself that's why ...... means I wrote the following notes on another day)

Black Raspberry Vanilla - not as strong as I'd like, hopefully comes back or blooms in use .. I'd love to put this in a lotion or cream! ...... Somehow reminds me of herbal flowers (red clover?), gentle, sweet ..

Vanilla de Madagascar - Mmm getting stronger, chocolaty vanilla to the point I'm tempted to take a bite (but resist!) ...... Faint compared to rest, nothing special ..

Abricot Vanilla - seems a bit subtle/faint at the moment ....... Some fruity notes returning ..

Musk Vanilla - still very powdery ....... Floral, powder ..

Warm Vanilla Sugar - this seems very mild today and I'm a bit disappointed, but still have hope it will come back ....... Also has a touch of fruit to it but it doesn't stand out compared to the rest ..

Drizzled Honey Vanilla - This is growing on me, lol ..It's got a fruity element that reminds me of the BRV, but each is unique .. Again I can't help but think this would be very popular! It's also Really Strong so you could probably halve the % used ...... Honey, floral, yep this is good!

Unscented - I actually like the scent of this - gently sweet and honey like .... Sweetly scented, Very nice actually!!

Marshmallow Fluff - the darkest of the lot .. This has taken on the scent of cupcakes straight from the oven .. It's not a strong scent but pleasing ..... Strong, buttery, vanilla ..

Vanilla Bean - a bit plastic, what a shame ..... A bit plastic, not much else ..

Buttercream Frosting - warm, sweet, buttery - another cupcake/cooking type scent, quite nice! ...... Also getting a bit plastic, what a shame I had hopes for this ..

Vanilla Bean Noel - This is developing Lovely! It's becoming richer is an obvious Vanilla - it's like ice-cream and milk bottle lollies ..... Not as strong as I'd like but nice, sugary ..

Vanilla Sandalwood - OMG(osh) this smells so good to me .. First thoughts when sniffing the bar today: Mmm Sexy Man lol .. And for the record no my man doesn't soap with this, but he should! ....... YUM YUM YUM!!!

Very Vanilla - Strong Plastic, ick .. I don't have much hope left for this one coming right :( ...... Could be mistaken but maybe a tad more Vanilla today? Still playdough though ..

Pink Sugar - I'm having trouble putting this scent into words .. It's gently perfumy, No distinct Vanilla but a rich and warm undertone which I attribute to Vanilla .. A little bit of fruit like the HDV but nowhere near as strong .. It's a complex scent and I really like it ..... This one makes me sniff again and again - its captivating!

01 March 2010

Absolutely Exhausted ..

Sorry but I'm far too tired to upload and post the vanilla Files tonight .. I did take the pics today (Mon), so will see to it first thing in the morning ;)

*crashing into bed now*