Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marketing Consult & More Work

Sorry I've been so quiet on the soaping lately but I've been doing more work on the website - I "think" I'm nearly finished (note the inverted commas, I am sure I've to do more work!).  I do need to add a new page/feature which will be articles about various bath & body related issues... along the lines of Why should you buy homemade soap, Features of various oils etc .. I've had a lot of feedback on the ingredients page from people who say it's nice to know exactly what they're putting on their skin so this is a natural extension into why they should use the various things.

I also had a marketing consultation with Terra Williams from Cibaria Soap Supply yesterday evening so I was working til gone 1.00 am this morning, making some of the changes she and I discussed. 

Our consultation was a prize in a recent competition with them and I was really happy with the things I learnt - one of which is that I'm actually on the right road and a lot of my ideas and things I would like to do are totally on plan.  It's great to think you know what you're doing but even better when a professional marketer validates you like that!!!

So ... if you'd like to take a moment and review the site, I'd really love to hear your feedback.. check out  Thanks in advance!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


As I seem to be as busy as I was pre deciding I'd stop selling, I thought I might as well redesign my website to reflect some changes I wanted to make.

Here's a screenshot - it reflects changes I've already made to the blog too.

It's simpler, stripped down, tells you exactly what you need to know and, if it doesn't, how to ask.  What is i am ... handmade? It's just that - handmade items, more will be added in time.  It works on the concept of "here's the things I make.. if you like 'em, why not buy 'em... if you don't, don't ... but you know what? You should". 

If you want to see the whole site, check out  All the new soaps are on there.  You know what to do. 

I'd love to hear your comments, suggestions, additions etc.  Oh yeah, and I know I've to do more work on the Ingredients page... I just got too tired after 8 hours doing this!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fiore Rustico Pure Castille Soap

I was totally inspired by the lovely Amanda of Lovin Soap who recently showed pictures of her castille soap - I asked if she would think of doing a tutorial on this and, by the end of the day, there was one and dedicated to me! Speedy Gonzales!

So, what else could I do but go and make one myself.  Castille soap is a soap made from 100% Olive Oil - no other oils are added, it's pure olive all the way.  It's excellent for all skin types but especially good for sensitive and dry skin.  The only drawback to castille is that it can take anywhere up to a full year to cure to an amazingly good bar of soap.  No matter, I thought, I'll work on my patience levels and just find a place to hide it and forget about it for at least 6 months.

The only olive oil I had in the house were my big 3 litre bottles of Olive Pomace - as soapmakers know, pomace can speed trace which isn't always what you'd like so, hence I had some left as I've not used it recently. 

Amanda suggested a steep water discount - she uses equal quantities of lye to water and this is unusual but helps the batter come to trace far sooner than normal (castille is notorious for taken a long time to trace).  The only other additions I made was Silk (as ever, you know what I'm like) and an essential oil blend of Sweet Orange, May Chang, Lavender, Patchouli, Geranium & Ylang Ylang ... it is divine! I added a little titanium dioxide because my pomace olive oil is a rather vile green and I wanted to at least get a creamy pale green.

So I weighed out my lye and water, equal quantities and mixed - this solution is more caustic than when full water is used (due to the lesser amount of water) so I was extremely careful not to splash it when stirring and to wear my safety specs.

I weighed out my oil and mixed my titanium dioxide and blended it into my olive oil.  I then weighed out my essential oil blend and poured that into the oil also. 

I took some time to line the mould and then I was ready to mix.  I poured my lye into my oils and it didn't take too long to reach trace - actually, I erred too much on the side of caution and I stick blended a little too much I think as I have some air bubbles in the final soap.  The pomace certainly speeded up trace as did the water discount and both certainly helped the soap to heat in the mould (the TD will have worked towards this too).  I managed to get it all in the mould and texture the top but I'd rather I had stopped stick blending a little earlier. 

The soap heated HUGELY - I have to say it was the hottest soap I've ever made and I had to put it in my soaping fridge overnight.  I took it out this morning and left it in the curing room for the full day to come back to room temperature til I cut it. 

I cut it this evening - it was hugely solid, almost felt like a very well cured soap in fact.  It took some effort to cut it and the bottoms of it are rather crumbly too.  I probably should have cut this this morning but I couldn't have, no time sadly. 

I can see in some of the pictures that it did gel in part but you'd have to look carefully at it - I HATE the crumbly bum but I do love the smoothness of it and I am rather partial to the creamy look of it.  I ADORE the top though! I washed my hands with an offcut and it bubbles like mad - what was that about slimey castille soap?

So I'm thinking, next time not quite a steep discount, and soap cooler, I'll probably still use pomace but I'll stick blend a tinch less.  Otherwise, I'm really happy with this.

Oh .. the name? Fiore Rustico is Italian (the olive oil connection) for Rustic Flowers ... the rustic for the way it's cut and flowers to try and illustrate the essential oil blend. 

So.. here is Fiore Rustico Pure Castille Soap... enjoy!

Beautifully textured tops

Rustic cut soap!

Ever so smooth soap - you can just vaugely see the gelling in the centre 

Beautiful creamy fragranced rustic soaps for sensitive skin

Huge thanks to Amanda for giving me inspiration - I do wonder if this really needs the 6 month cure time as it feels so hard already ... any thoughts and comments would be welcomed!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lemongrass Verbena

I've teased you for far too long, I'm a horror!

I showed you a pic the other day of a green and yellow swirled soap - it was only just poured and I was waiting to cut it which I couldn't get round to doing it til this evening. 

I used to sell this fragrance in my glycerine soap and I found it to be my biggest seller - the amount of people who adore Lemongrass is huge; it is such a bright warm exotic citrus fragrance and so suitable for both men and women.

I made this soap using Golden Olive Oil, Palm Oil (from a sustainable source), Coconut Oil and Castor Oil (always, because it helps make beautiful bubbles!).  It is coloured using specially imported US micas in green and lemon and has a sprinkling of glittery mica on top.  The white is coloured using Titanium Dioxide as the olive oil I can get here is very yellow and I wanted to get a very white soap. 

As ever with all my soaps, I've added pure silk because I love the feel of it in a soap plus it adds a real luxury element.  And, to play with the Lemongrass/Thai theme, I used full fat Coconut Milk as the water portion - this was lovely to use and it adds a real creaminess to the final soap. 

I will admit I did want straighter layers but I banged the mould a lot (to try and get rid of any air bubbles) and I guess layers and banging don't make happy bedfellows!!!

So ... here is my Lemongrass Verbena - a bright, sparkling exotic citrus fragranced soap to wake up to every morning!

In the mould, just poured

A big ol' stack of soap

I love the tops of this soap

More soap!

Arty side view

A wall of Lemongrass!

More soap

So tell me what you think, I'd love to hear! If you're interested in buying this soap, it'll be fully cured by 25 April (I should warn you that 6 have been sold on pre-order already based on these pictures! Only 4 left)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday teasing...

Today we went food shopping .. I bought coconut milk.  And then I got busy.

Here's a clue:

More later....

Yes, I am a tease!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Surprises & Good People

Today I received some presents - nope, it's not my birthday or any event really, other than being Friday and the start of the weekend.  But I still got pressies! I was so chuffed that I decided I'd do a blog post and show them off to everyone!

Firstly, I received a notice in the post from the Post Office to say they'd tried to deliver a package on Thursday - as our door bell hasn't worked since Jesus was a boy, this happens more often than not.  I was a little annoyed I'd missed the delivery but then thought "yay I'll get a surprise package on Friday instead".  So, hubs and I went to the Post Office before work and picked up a package addressed to me and marked "Pay It Forward".  Ohhhhhh yes! I remember, we signed up to this on Facebook in the New Year and people had the year to send out the gifts .. so this is my first one!

I got to work and unwrapped the package and, inside, there was this little egg box!

And, when you opened it, there was these fab egg bath bombs!

Aren't they adorable?!!! The fragrances are Rose Garden, Lemon & Lime, Orange and Lavender - they smell amazing and I wanted to go and have a bath there and then.  Love love love the egg shapes, love the egg box and just loved the packaging.  These are from the lovely Ren Chandler of Green Heart Gifts - check out her site as she has some really lovely products. 

Then, later in the day, a friend of mine, Sherra Murphy, that I also work with, came into the office with some pressies for my hubby and me!

The first was a handmade soap made with Beamish Stout (which, incidentally, is my hubs favourite tipple!)

I tried to do a Cocobong style bubbles on soap picture but I didn't do so well - the bottom of the soap is brown from the Beamish and the top is lightly coloured yellow fragranced with lemon.  It's a really beautiful soap, extremely smoothe and it has a really lovely, natural fragrance with a hint of lemon behind it.  Hubs has used it (as you can see!) and gave it the thumbs up!  He really loved the labels that came with the soap too, personalised for him!

She also gave me a sample of her salt bar which is just so lovely - the fragrance is eucalptus and lavender and something else I can't remember but suspect might be mint? (She did tell me, but I can't remember - d'oh!)

It's a really fresh fragrance, I can totally see this one waking you up in the mornings! I love the blue shreds in it, they really match the fragrance.

And finally, I received these fabulous soaps a week or so ago - these were made by my soapy friend Kelly Ellis who has fallen in love with glycerine soap making; she is fascintated by colour and fragrance and, like me, loves a little bit of glitter too! 

Unlike me, she can make a really damn fine bath bomb!

The soaps are Iced Lemon & Mango (yellow), Cherry Blossom (pink) and Lime (green) - she also included a sample handcream and lip balm (not pictured) which are really lovely.  For someone who has only started making her own products, she really has a flair for this and a true love that shines through.

I really wanted to say a HUGE thanks to the lovely Ren, Sherra and Kelly because you're a) really lovely people, b) so generous and c) really damn fine artists!

Thank you ladies and HAPPY FRIDAY to everyone!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cream Bee - New Soap

I had a very very good friend of mine stay for the last 5 days and I'd promised for ages that we'd soap together and so we did, this Monday just gone.  She was very nervous of the lye aspect which probably means she's been listening to my warnings that you HAVE to be careful using it (good thing!) so she watched more than did but was very happy to do that. 

I had cooked and pureed some carrots earlier in the week and my hubs had kindly bought a large carton of fresh Irish dairy cream because I've really wanted to use both in a soap for ages.  I decided to make a citrus based soap and chose a new allergen free fragrance oil that I'd purchased from Fresholi earlier in the month.  This is a fragrant and zesty blend of grapefruit, lemon, orange and yuzu (an oriental citrus fruit) and is very fresh and citrusy. 

I wanted to use pure Golden Olive Oil and, as ever, had to have some tussah silk in there (love what this brings to a soap).  Hubs also picked me up a nice big jar of Manuka honey and I wanted to incorporate this too. 

I was aware of the level of sugars in the carrots and cream and how easily these can over-caramelise and burn with the addition of the lye, so, after weighing them out (and adding approximately 100g of deionised water and my silk) I very slowly added a small amount of the caustic soda to the mix and blended, added a small amount and blended again and so on til all the caustic soda was fully mixed in and the carrots and cream hadn't changed much in colour.  I was happy it would produce a really excellent orange colour. 

I allowed these to cool and, meanwhile, I weighed out my hards butters/oils and melted them as I weighed out my liquid oils.  There was no need to mix any colour as I was using the carrots to colour the soap.  I blended the melted oils/butters to the liquid ones and allowed them to cool (remembering to add in my fragrance oil at this stage also as I find it the most useful time to do this) as I went about lining my mould.

All was fine, everything was nicely cooling (approximately 90 degrees F) and I decided to blend the lye with the fats.  I stick blended as I poured the lye in but, yet again, the soap acclerated like a damn Formula One driver! GAH, seriously do I have an accleration magnet stuck to me or something? My friend, Ger, couldn't believe that the mix went from liquid to a near solid within about 10 seconds!

So, off I went and plugged in the crockpot and everything got thrown in even as it was setting in my mixing bucket! I added a little more cream to account for evaporation in hot process soaping and then decided to go hell for leather and add the Manuka honey.  Now, should I have realised that adding this would change my nicely orange soap a deep amber colour? Yes I should have but I was in what fellow blogger Cocobong recently called in her blog as the "What If" mode of thinking ... what if I add this or that? My question was.. "What if I add some Manuka honey at this stage?"  Well I did, two nice big teaspoons of it too! My mix turned a very dark brown colour and, with the lighter bits that hadn't melted yet, floating in the mix.. well, it sure looked like I'd made a mistake in choosing the honey?! Or had I?

Well, we cooked it and tested it (she wouldn't test for zap, I'd scared her about lye too much but hubs kindly helped me out - I always check it myself but like a second opinion if I can) and, once the zap disappeared, we mixed thoroughly and poured it all into the mould.  As I was still in the What If mode, I thought "What if I sprinkled with some mica now?" ... and so I did.. I am not one to miss out on a big of glitter am I? Regular readers will know that I am a magpie at heart!

The name "Cream Bee" came from some wordplay Ger, hubs and I were doing in order to try and get the right name for the soap .. it's a play on words and comes from "Queen Bee".  I kinda like it but if you have any other suggestions, go for it and comment away!

So, I present to you... Cream Bee:

Top of the soap showing the delicious glitter (fav pic!)

More glitter - I love the shine on the top of the soaps

Deep orange amber coloured soap

This picture shows the lovely textured tops

Pure and wholesome Cream Bee soap

I really love this soap and want to say a huge thanks to my lovely friend Ger Holland who was a great help and was really interested (or at least pretended to be which I love her for!) in the whole soaping process.

This soap should be ready by Friday 26 March - if you're interested in purchasing, drop me a line at and we'll talk!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Can you Vote for Me?

The lovely Amy from Great Cakes Soapworks is running a competition for your Favourite Handmade Soap Blog ... can you please vote for Soaperstar in the Best Photography, Best Soap Showcase and Best Overall Content? There's no prize involved really, just a bit of fun but still, I'd love to win it! All you need to do is go to and choose Soaperstar for the three categories... that's it, really easy peasy. 

Thanks ... now get voting!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Soap Blog Nominations

I've just seen that Great Cakes Soapworks is running a poll for Best Handmade Soap Blog - I think this is a brilliant idea, I love following soap blogs and will read as much as I can but there are always more out there I haven't heard about .. yet!

So, if you write a soap blog, please check out this link for more details and if you want to nominate your own soap blog.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Summer Honeysuckle

I'm still thinking about Summertime, I can't seem to stop focusing on it! The last week here has been really sunny but very cold but still, there's a definite hint in the air that Spring is on the way and the sunny weather just cheers the soul.

So,with my mind firmly set to Summer, I decided to make another soap - this one is Summer Honeysuckle.  I tried a new range of allergen free fragrance oils from Fresholi and, having already sampled the Cucumber, I decided I wanted to try my hand at the Honeysuckle.  As with all florals, I was aware that it might speed trace - oh boy was I right! But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

So I started off with my recipe which I wanted to keep to Olive Oil, sustainably sourced Palm Oil, Coconut Oil and Castor Oil for bubbles.  I usually use some Cocoa Butter but I'm running low and haven't done an olive oil soap in a while so I thought, why not.  I mixed my lye with water and my silk (always with the silk, I love that baby) and mixed really carefully, so as not to splash myself plus I wore my safety specs (I've seen the pics of eyes that were burnt with lye, NOT pretty - always wear your safety specs).

I weighed and melted my hard oils and weighed out my fluid oils - took a little of the fluid oil and mixed up my titanium dioxide with this (using one of those tiny latte whisks, best way ever of mixing TD to make sure it's lump free).  I poured all this into the oils & butters and allowed them to cool.  I weighed out my fragrance oil and poured this into the oils too - I find this the most useful way of managing it (and especially if you have a tendancy to forget your fragrances!). As I waited for the oils and lye to cool, I lined my mould. 

So, the mixes came to 87 degrees F for the lye, and 88 degrees F for the oils/butters - pretty good, double checked that every thing that was to go in, went in.  Oh and I mixed a little Lemon Drop POP mica with a tinch of the oil to add later. So I got everything ready, everything in the right place so that I could move fast if needed. 

I poured the lye water into the oil/butter mix and began to stick blend - for about 10 seconds it looked good and then... uh oh... ricing! So I beat it and beat it, it was accelerating like a Forumla 1 driver! I thought "Oh hell, this is crazy", I felt the outside of the bowl and it was so hot! I decided that this was going to be a big problem soap if I didn't manage it and so turned around to get my crock pot out and heat turned on and, by the time I turned back, the most time was about 20 seconds, I had to rescue the stick blender out of the now bowl shaped soap!

I threw everything in the crockpot with a little extra water and went off to do something else (rant, rave, do the "why did I think I could CP florals" dance etc) until it melted down.  I kept checking for zap and, as soon as it was gone, I took out a portion and mixed with my Lemon Drop mica mix and beat it with a spatula until it was all really well mixed and then put it in the mould.  Hubs was helping me out at this stage (because the bowl in my crockpot is ceramic and it's really really really hot!) and he put some cling film on top to stop the top drying out before he took the crockpot back off the heat again - I took off the clingfilm and then poured (spooned really) the white portion on top and then banged the mould about ten times to get out any air bubbles.  I smoothed the top quickly and tidied up the sides and then did a little sprinkling of sparkling gold mica on top. 

It smelt divine - the fragrance is described as a gorgeous floral fragrance, which celebrates the sunshine aroma of honeysuckle. Delicate citrus top notes cascade to a fruity floral heart dominated by the sweet aroma of golden honeysuckle entwined with other florals of night scented jasmine, and ylang.  To my nose, it smells like a field of flowers on a warm sunny summers day, plus there's a really lovely green grass base to it. 

So .. I present to you my hot process Summer Honeysuckle soap:

Glistening Golden Top

Face-on View
Lots of Soap Slices

A delicious soap stack
Deliciously fragranced Summer soaps

I'd love to hear your comments on this new soap! If you're interested in buying, remember these are available to buy by 15 March - just drop me an email to and we'll chat!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Luxury Glycerine Soaps - Grab them Now while the Goings Good!

As I announced a while back, we're closing down the retail side of Soaperstar - this is to allow me to concentrate on other products and techniques, such as the cold and hot process soaps you've seen on here.  I'm toying with the idea of setting up some simple site to allow people to buy these new soaps through as people seem to really love them (the Lemon Cream one I made a while back is almost all gone already!).

Anyway, in the meantime, I have 12 soaps left so if you would like to purchase the last of our Soaperstar handcrafted luxury glycerine soaps, please check out our website at

The soaps we have left are:

Mister Blue Genes - with added Golden Jojoba Oil, fragranced with a stunning blend of apple and mandarin, within a heart of exotic jasmine and violet, ending on a deep musk base - the fragrance is has fresh notes from the fruit, a mild floral heart followed within a deep musky base; coloured with the deepest blue mica to create lustrous blue swirls mingling with black and white swirls.

Chritmas Glisten luxury handcrafted goatsmilk & glycerine soap with added Shea Butter & our Ecocert skin conditioner, will leave your skin wonderfully clean, soft and beautifully fragranced; coloured using natural mica, this soap softly glistens. The fragrance: is a cosy blend of festive fruits, wine and sweet warm spices. It is a beautiful blend, softly spiced with a warm fruity background, that leaves your skin beautifully fragranced.

Orange Blush - added Apricot Kernel Oil, fragranced with a fresh cologne, blending perfumed bergamot and sweet orange blossom with delicate cottony florals on a base of precious powdery musks; coloured using stunning bronzed swirls created using a blend of orangey bronze coloured natural mica alongside bright orange and white goatsmilk swirls.

Pineapple Beach - added pure Organic Coconut Oil, this is fragranced with a delicious, fresh, sweet & juicy pineapple scent; coloured using a blend of two different natural glistening micas

Grab them now cos when they're gone, they're gone!!!

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