Family Guest Blog – Judy
|For me, making soap is all about family. My oldest daughter has sensitive skin that is prone to eczema and painful drying and cracking in the winter months. After buying some handcrafted cold process soap, I was inspired to learn to make it for her. I started with Kathy Miller’s wonderful site for the beginner, www.millersoap.com Kathy is a wonderful lady, generous with her knowledge and time, also devoted to family, and was kind enough to correspond with me when I was a relative newbie.As I have developed as a soap maker, I have made individual recipes tailored to family members’ tastes and preferences. My daughters also offer ideas and inspirations. My youngest, then 8, wanted a “cocoa-nut” soap, scented with coconut fragrance oil and swirled with cocoa powder. She also loves lemon poppy seed muffins so together we invented a soap with poppy seeds, lemongrass EO, and anise. I colored it with charcoal and a bit of virgin palm oil and poured it in layers. Bumblebee soap was born! A recent request, watermelon soap (more poppy seeds!) took quite a lot of planning to carry out.
For my older daughter of the dry skin I formulated a simple superfatted soap with just three oils – avocado, babassu and cocoa butter. This became ABC soap and all of the ingredients including fragrance (but minus sodium hydroxide) began with the letters A, B or C. For my sister, whose 50th birthday I missed due to the great blizzard back east at the end of 2010, I made a soap in her honor on that day because I could not be with her. She loves cinnamon rolls, so I made a soap fragrant with cinnamon bark essential oil and almond and vanilla fragrance oils, swirled with ground cinnamon. I have one bar left and it still smells great.
My husband is an outdoorsman and a hunter. Last fall he bagged an elk and I rendered elk tallow for the first time. I processed it with rosemary and mint from our garden and made a soap just for him. It is reminiscent of a campfire with a light gray smokey swirl made from the charcoal from our wood burning stove. I also recently made a soap with oils infused with cedar fronds and rosemary from our yard and scented with black spruce, folded lemon, and hints of vetiver, black pepper and galbanum. Smells like a forest!
For my dear grandmother, about whom I have written before, I made a soap in her memory on the blue moon of last year, redolent with almond and cardamom and luxury oils that would have been kind to her older skin.
Finally, there is my extended family of friends, co-workers, and teachers. My older daughter, and now my youngest, have been performing in a local production of the Nutcracker and in other ballets for the last four years. This has become a family tradition and these young dancers have become like family to me. I feel like I have a dozen extra teenage daughters! I have been making limited edition soaps as gifts to cast members for opening night. Last year for Nutcracker, I did an orange spice. This year cranberry spice and pumpkin chai. For the Alice in Wonderland ballet, “Red Court Raspberry.” For teachers, I’ve been making soaps in school colors. And for one of my graduate students, Scott, I offered to make soap favors for his wedding gift. Imagine my surprise (dismay?) to find out he and his bride had invited 200 guests!
Using my loved ones as a source of inspiration enriches my creativity and makes my products special and meaningful to me, and I hope, to the recipients.