December 6 Prompt
Author: Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project
Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?
I started making soap again. I’ve been making it on and off since about 2003, but I tend to go in fits and spurts. Make a ton of soap in a short amount of time, then not make any for months.
It’s been many months since I made my last big batch. I’m not even sure if Flora was born the last time I made a serious batch of soap. So it’s definitely been a while.
It felt really good to get excited about a non-computer-related hobby again. Of course, I spent lots of time online sourcing the best prices for my materials and reading up on new scents, but eventually I had to leave the laptop and iPhone and get my hands dirty (or clean really, since it’s soap and all).
Here are some of my latest creations:
Massage bar. One of my newest molds, it’s a large bar and it looks gorgeous up close.
Guest soaps (smaller in size) with snowflakes and hearts. This was my first time painting the shapes (or in the case of the heart soap, around the shapes) It turned out better than I thought, which always makes me happy).
Fishy soap! The fish part comes from an Ikea ice cube tray. The fish is then put in the oval mold and the second colour of soap is poured around it.
These soaps are made using the melt and pour method. Some purist soapmakers consider this slacker-style soap, which is okay with me. Melt and pour works like this:
- Get your hands on some melt and pour soap base. This is premade, unscented, uncoloured glycerin soap. Other oils may be added. The fish and massage bar soaps have hemp oil in them, and the guest soaps have goat’s milk.
- Melt the soap. This can be done in the microwave, or in a pot on the stove
- Add your chosen fragrance and colourants
- Pour into soap molds
- Let harden, pop out of your mold, wrap and put in your bathroom
- Scrub away!
I haven’t gone over the finer details like how much fragrance to use (important in these scent-sensitive times). That information can be found online or in books related to soapmaking. I am happy to talk more about it in the comments if anyone is interested. This is a craft you could do with school-age kids quite easily. I’ll likely make soap with my daughter when she gets a little older.
Two things I really like about melt and pour soapmaking are:
- Soap is meant to be used. So many crafts just hang around the house, long after they should be tossed because “someone made it”. Soap can be admired while on display, enjoyed while using and put to rest when you’re down to the last tiny sliver. There’s a lifecycle.
- Soap is a forgiving medium. I’m not the best crafter. I get sloppy and things never turn out as nice as I would like. Mistakes in soap can be considered artful, and at worse, you can always melt it down and repour it.
This is a craft I really enjoy. It’s easy, quick and produces impressive results. I’m happy to answer any questions you have, so if you have any, leave them in the comments or drop me an email.