I’ve always had an interest in looking at pretty and artistic things. It’s a blast to look at handmade crafts on Etsy and for the things that you want to learn, there’s always someone on YouTube posting videos on everything under the sun. I used to think this was just for people looking to be discovered or for glory hounds looking for 15 minutes of fame. As it turns out, there are a lot of people who may be promoting their business or doing product demonstrations, but at the same time are teaching new skills. So it’s early February, 2013, it all probably started for me at 2:30 in the morning when I wasn’t sleeping well and didn’t feel like watching infomercials. I found my way to YouTube, searched for many things eventually landing on “soap making,” most certainly finding SoapQueenTV (Anne-Marie Faiola of Brambleberry) and Celine Blacow (The Soaperstar of IAmHandmade.com). These are just two of hundreds of experienced soapers who are sharing and inspiring beginners and experienced soapers to new heights.
The Soapstar demonstrates spoon swirls which has more recently morphed into the Celine Swirl. SoapQueenTV is operated by the owner of Brambleberry which is a popular supplier for soap-making molds, fragrances and essential oils, fixed oils, herbs and colorants. The SoapQueen makes videos on a wide range of soap making techniques in cold process (CP), melt and pour (MP), and hot process. She makes bath bombs, lotions, candles, etc.
So, I watched videos in the late night and eventually ordered a book: The Natural Soap Chef by Heidi Corley Barto. I studied the first couple of chapters of the book which covered materials needed and safety precautions and placed an order with Brambleberry, molds from a guy on Ebay, and on Amazon for everything else I could possibly need to make soap. While waiting for everything to arrive, I downloaded Making Soap From Scratch by Gregory Lee White, to my Kindle and was then left with my first recognition of the contradictions in soapmaking. Whereas Heidi Corley Barto’s book instructed that you should refrigerate your molds and let the soap set at room temperature or in the refrigerator after pouring, Gregory Lee White instructs that you should insulate your soap mold retain heat. What in the world? Neither author really addressed that alternative methods exist or why they chose to do it the way the do. Eventually, I concluded that this was a matter of preference in terms of “To Gel or Not to Gel.” One author offered recipes in grams, the other in ounces. Neither source offered recipes that were the batch size that I needed to fit the molds I’d ordered. One suggested mixing lye in a glass container, the other said you should never use glass… As a newbie, I’m hanging on every detail and bewildered by the contradictions. I’ll probably have to read another book to get to get some consensus! I order The Soap Maker’s Workshop: The Art and Craft of Natural Homemade Soap. About this time, my soap making supplies arrived… just in time for a heavy winter snow. I have everything I need except lye. According to the first book, I should be able to buy lye at the hardware store. Nope! Lowe’s doesn’t carry it. Neither does Wal Mart. I place my second order with Brambleberry. It’s February 20, 2013.