Live simply. Use Soap.
For me, making handmade soap is a creative pursuit that satisfies my desire for simple, practical beauty. A bar of soap is functional. It cleans. It serves the every day necessity of personal cleanliness. Yet it can also serve in providing a pleasant sensory experience of touch and smell. Not taste. You don't want to taste soap. Even if it does look good enough to eat.
After ten years of making soap, I still enjoy the endless possibilities of combining color, fragrance, ingredients, and texture in different ways to create a bar of soap that is unique from every other bar of soap, even one that comes from the same batch. I like the prospect of serendipity - the act of finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking for it - because not every batch of soap behaves itself in the making. Sometimes a batch decides to deviate from the original plan. But that's okay. I like soap with personality. It can go ahead and express itself, but I know that in the end it gets the job done. Even when things go exactly as planned, there is often an unexpected pleasant surprise in the design of the finished soap.
Every soap has a story that is only known by the soap maker. A batch of soap is made for many reasons. It may be for an upcoming event - a baby shower or a wedding, a craft show or arts market, a fund raiser or charity auction. Sometimes it's to try a new swirling or layering technique, a different colorant or additive, a particular fragrance oil. When a soap really misbehaves, it can be rebatched - melted down and remolded - kinda like a make over. That's something else I like about making soap - that it's flexible enough to change. After a little bit of fuss, eventually it gets the job done. It cleans, and it smells good while it's at it.
I am a member of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, a non-profit trade association serving the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry. Last year I tested and received Basic Soapmaking Certification. At the guild conference next month, May 2019, I plan to test and receive Advanced Soapmaking Certification. As part of that process, I had to make a basic soap from scratch. This entailed doing all the formula calculations by hand, getting safety documentation of all the ingredients, and submitting information on the soap making process. Such a far cry from the inexactness of making soap in times past! As I wrote in an earlier post, "For the pioneers, making soap was a hot, exhausting process involving wood ashes from their cooking fires and animal fats from their livestock or leftover cooking grease. It was an imprecise process at best but did result in a functional soft soap that was good for cleaning clothes but rather harsh for cleaning skin." Instead of dealing with all that mess, the basic simple bar of soap (pictured below) I made in the comfort of my kitchen is gentle and beautiful without added color or fragrance.
Every soap maker adds a heaping tablespoon of their own personality and experience into the soap they make. I enjoy the differences. The market for handmade soap is huge because everyone benefits from using handmade soap. My soap isn't necessarily better than soap made by another soap maker. It's just different. And that's okay. Well made soap does what it's made to do. It cleans. It looks good and feels good. I like that.
When I look back at the first soap I made, I am pleased with how much I have learned and am satisfied that making soap still brings me pleasure. When others enjoy using handmade soap from The Lathered Lamb, I am happy. They are happy. And clean. What a simple pleasure! To be happy and clean. So if you haven't used one of my happily made soaps yet, get yourself a bar soon. We'll both be happy.
Thanks for stopping by!
Live simply. Use Soap.