Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Go go Lilac Team

I've mentioned elsewhere that we will be taking part in Craft fest this coming Sept. It is effectively an online social network trying to sell their wares together at an internet craft-fair. A couple of weeks are allocated each year, we pay a small fee to register and then do our best to promote as best we possibly can other crafters in our teams. With Craftfest rapidly approaching I thought I should make a start of it and stick close to home with my own team until we get up and running

Not an easy task when there are so many wonderful things out there. But without further ado. Lets bring on the Lilacs!

It just so happens that there seems to be a lot of jewellery in the team at the minute and, as much as I hate to admit worthy competition: some wonderful soaps!

I've included the links and a slide show of their soon to be craftfest stall.

First up: Beadedbazaar

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Next in line is Carrie Freeman with those worthy soaps and lip-balms (and I really like the tins)...


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Now, getting back to the jewellry with KK Marie's seleciton of beautiful jewellry


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Or, perhaps D&D designs...


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Cola Creations

Cola Creations is my first featured seller in the run up to Craftfest on this blog.

I wanted to paste a photo but was struggling - even better I managed to get a hold of a slideshow instead.

Personally I have a particular soft spot for the clothes pegs.  I seem to spend far too much of my day washing clothes and nappies. hanging them to dry has to be one of my personal pet-hates.  Especially when I'm consistently told that I don't hang them properly.

Girls - please take note.  At least I am doing it!!!!!  

Still, don't ever ask me to put the clothes back into their proper place that is the number 1 pet-hate, closely followed by ironing - which, I am told, I would have to do much less if I hung the clothes properly in the first place!

All I can say is that I might take a little more time to hang clothes properly if I had something nice to look at while doing so.

Cola Creations, I thank you! I now have some inspiration.

You can find out lots more fantastic crafts (including our own) at Craftfest - see the link to the right or below the slide show.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Scented or unScented soap?

I think we have to agree that God was very generous when shared with us the gift of creativity.
As I go creating some of our products I'm inspired by his own art work and get so passionate by them. Take as an example the dried flowers, nuts, spices and other incredible ingredients we are adding to the soaps that not only give the natural, rustic and beautiful look to the soap and cosmetics but also pour goodness to the skin ...just overwhelming!

I have to confess that every time I add a new raw material to the soaps a new world open just in front of me: smells, colors and touch...so beautiful.
I made a little cupcake using some glycerin left over and added a little bit of Chamomile flowers on top of it...my goodness...the dried flowers changed completely the scent of the soap...that little experience encouraged me to make some scent and color FREE soaps which will be indicated to people with very sensitive skin and can't tolerate fragrance or coloring in a product.
My first one was an Exfoliating mini loaf bar made with finally grated star anise and the end result was a gorgeous liquorice smell in a soap that people can slice at their heart content or share with guests and friends. I also added in this soap some Vitamin E Oil to help with skin healing.

Then I made a very moisturising and healing soap (which I'm using now!) with Powdered Vanilla pod and Shea butter. I mixed it all into a base with Goat's milk powder...owwwww... That's a very creamy and delightful soap.
The Vanilla make it looks so beautiful and if your sense of smell is very sharp you will be able to get some faint scent of vanilla. The Shea butter moisturise, protects and heals the skin and Goat's milk has acids which acts as a natural AHA, exfoliating dead skin cells and balancing the pH of the new, healthy skin underneath.
These little loaves are great to share with friend, slice and give as gifts or keep all for your self...they are that good!
Visit our Webpage to see the other unscented and scented versions:

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


I have some people asking about who takes the photos of our products and HOW we do it and here is your answer...I do it! (Not the male half of the partnership as he shakes a lot and ruins our photos, including the ones of myself with our children hence why you can't find photos of our sons with their mother!).

The female half of Scent loves photos and usually walks around the house kidnapping items to add to the photo shoot and then get a spot in the LAB with the best light, choose the background (which can be scrapbook paper, a cardboard box covered in white paint, towels etc) and start to click...I might get 5 to 6 photos of the same product before I'm satisfied with the result and we use everything we can to add to the scene: raw materials, toys, my son, my children's personal objects etc
Unscented Cocoa Powder & Butter mini loaf

BUT the great secret is LIGHT!

Not artificial light but natural light as artificial light can reflect back from the product or objects around the products and "spoil" the natural and organic look of the image you are trying to capture. I totally avoid the use of flash when taking photos of my products which means that my rule is simple:

no good natural light no photos!

Get the right time of the day with the perfect light and your photos can look fantastic and I recommend you find a good place at your home or workshop where natural light is aplenty and watch the time of the day that you can get the best image. Take some photos at different times of the day and check the one that gives the best results.

I also find that sun light coming straight onto the products tends to over-expose the colors and make the soaps look deformed. It is important to move your product around to get the best of the natural light without the direct sun light on it.

I usually use bedside tables, chair, boxes and buckets as a "table" to set my scene and I think they are the best option if you need to move the product around in order to find the best "lighted" corner for your photos.

It is important to set up your background to match the theme of your product as best as you can and do not waste a second because time wasted is LIGHT wasted and here in Northern Ireland it is very precious asset!


As products creation goes we have lots of ideas and the challenge of bring them to life but we can't forget some important things:

The nature of our product and the presentation of our product.

We make cute soaps but they are still glycerin soaps which means that depending of the glycerin base we are using they might draw moisture from the air and literally get "soaked" or (in our business popular description) sweat!

Thinking about it we decided that a shrink wrapper would work very well for our soaps not just to protect them until they reach they final destination - someone else's bathroom - but also to help with time saving and prevent some very sore fingers. Thanks to family kindness and their faith that this business can work we had some investment coming in our direction to buy the equipment.

Here are a few photos showing our new wrapping system which guarantees that nobody else will touch your soap bar (except you!) from the moment we wrap it at the LAB to the moment you take home and open it. No strange fingers, no other things around your precious bar...just your hands and your skin!
Here some photos of the process:

BUT the challenge with the shrink wrap is to make some other more "delicate" soaps keep their great look after wrapping them.  We can't get that with the new system on products such as:
Apples, Kiwis, Plums Tangerines and other special soaps.

We tried putting some inside wooden boxes to be used as special gifts.  We even shrinkwrapped the boxes to protect the soap but we still have some negative feedback about the attractiveness of our packaging!!

Please, if someone out there has an brilliant idea...contact us and in return we might send you a soap for sharing your creative brain with us...all suggestions are welcome!

In the interim - after hours of looking at hessian bags, cotton pouches, wooden crate, cardboard boxes, waxed paper and many other thins - this is our solution.

We present to you:  Our Fruit soaps.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Starting up full-time as a business with no capital can be a long and lonely road as you sacrifice loads of things all in the name of building your own little creative empire.

It takes time and hard work to build up sales, a following and an income to sustain the little ones... but every once in a while in the midst of the long initial stages you get moments of sheer joy and excitement.

One of those days came today.  In a bid to promote our work we decided to join in at Craftfest for September.  A group of people working together to promote each others work for a week in September here in the UK.  I promote their work and they promote mine - all links post to my etsy shop.

Well, today I found out that our products got featured on their cover page.  Not just one item - but the entire cover page for their facebook. 

I'm over the moon.  It equals being featured on the father's day feature.

Had to share!  I'm so chuffed that Carla's work is loved by fellow crafters.  here is the link if you would like to get involved in Craftfest and to our little cover page.


I'll post more info about Craftfest in the weeks to come - for the mean-time I am still trying to find my feet.

A delighted Garreth.

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Saturday, 14 July 2012

Glycerin Soaps: Why to use them?

 The base ingredient in our soaps is glycerin so we thought to bring some  information about this ingredient to help you to decide if using a glycerin soap - specialy a soap BAR - is the right thing for you!

Glycerin Properties:
Glycerin is a colorless, odorless and viscous organic compound.  It  is a neutral, sweet tasting substance, is a good solvent and absorbs moisture from the air, that is, it is hygroscopic in nature. Hence pure glycerin can cause a blister if placed on your tongue. However, it has a soothing effect on your skin when diluted with water and is also known to soften the skin.

Glycerin soaps are easily recognizable from other soaps because  they are translucent. When you buy a white glycerin soap you are actualy buying a transparent glycerin soap in which Titanium Dioxide was added to make it opaque or white.Glycerin is a humectant that helps the skin retain moisture. It is good for the skin because it attracts moisture and keeps the skin hydrated.  Glycerin soaps help remove dark spots, age spots, revive skin suppleness and nourish the skin to make it look radiant and flawless. When natural ingredients and essential oils are added to a glycerin soap it helps to relax, calm and provide aromatherapy benefits.

Anyone can benefit from using vegetable glycerin soap as a gentle and non-irritating way to clean the skin. From infants to people with sensitive skins or skin conditions (such as eczema and psoriasis), Glycerin soap is gentler on skin than most soaps out there, making it a good choice for people who have particularly dry or sensitive skin. 

Althougth it presents many benefits some people still might show some kind of allergy or intolerance to glycerin so it is advised to do an allergy test on the internal part of the elbow 24 hours before you start to use a product or descontinue the use of glycerin if reaction is suspected or noticed.

Soap bars and the environment

Liquid soap came up to the market from 1980 and people often ask which is better: bar or liquid soaps?

For the Bar...
The green website www.doyourpart.com has an interesting argument about the enviromental advantages of using soap bar:
"From an environmental perspective, bar soap is usually the better buy. First, it requires much less packaging. There are no plastic containers and dispensers to fill up landfills.
Liquid soap containers add up to more than two million pounds of plastic trash each year. The paper and cardboard used in bar soap packaging are easily recycled."

When considering costs some people prefer bars because they last longer than liquid soaps.  It is estimated that one bar of soap can be used longer than a 12-once bottle of the liquid variety as people over-estimate just how much they really need to use of liquid soap.  Other important factor is the packaging. A bar of soap might cost less because it is cheaper to pack.

Other considerations:

Glycerin soap bar has its benefits but also has some drawbacks.
In america the Health departments across the country point out that a small amount of bacteria can live on bar soap and some people might be unsure about using a soap bar in public places.  Personaly, one must ask if there is a lot of difference when you have to put your hand FIRST on the PUMP of liquid soap where others have also been!
Other factorsto think about  are:
  •  Glycerin soap generally does not lather up as well as other soaps but still cleans the same. Less leather does not mean less cleaning but might mean less agression to your skin.
  •  It may dissolve if it is left in water or attracts too much moisture from the air.
  •  Although soap bars in general can be cheaper than liquid soaps the glycerin soap can be  more expensive than most other types of soap  when they are handcrafted and all natural ingredients, rather than synthetic detergents are added to the formulation making them significantly more expensive than those that are mass produced.  A handcrafted glycerin soap can be molded to shapes and make your bathroom or kitchen more attractive and cool. Why use a soap smelling of pear when you can use a soap that smells and LOOKs like a pear?
  • To keep glycerin bar soap from melting, it should be stored in a cool, dry place before use and on a soap dish that has holes for drainage.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Permission to create!

I gained permission to enter the lab!!!

I am permitted into the lab but noramlly it is to make items in which the recipe is either straightforward or scripted so there is no margin for error.

This time - was different.  I went over to make some more "Strangford Stones" but came out with my first three bars of soap totally unauthorised by Carla.

My first was a relatively simple soap - gorgeous but not very challenging.  Perfect to wet my thirst for more.  It was a bath toy in a little blue pond of soap.  I was so enchanted by my innate soap-making ability that I decided to make 6!

Second soap actually came out of soap that Carla didn't feel she could use.  Tempted to throw it out (an absolute sin in our house as we can use anything) Carla said I had permission to use it.  This soap was initially made out of some Calla Lilly Soaps, some soap base and a strawberry paper soap that she had yet decided what to do with.  The result was this.  I impressed myself.  I should add it wasn't quite what I had in mind.  It was supposed to look like a pink ribbon running through the soap which I had planned to sell in aid of a cancer charity we were supporting.  First attempt didn't go so well but I think this is a mighty fine rescue!

Third soap to make it to the finishing line came from a desire to use some new molds I had ordered from Canada.  As Carla is an artist at heart I think these molds may limit her creativity.  Interestingly they provide me with a creative pallet from which to work.  Looking at the molds we had in offer I decided to try making a Tulip.  It involves making the core tulip and stem first followed by pouring in the base soap and the top layer.  Temperatures, timing as well as the usual issue with air bubbles, fragrances and colours do make it a difficult bar to master.  After an initial disaster at step one of the tulip I surprised myself in making a bar we could be proud to sell.  Actually, all three soaps all worthy of retail.

It is decided then.  I am a creative genius!  (in the making) NOT!