Sunday, January 29, 2012


Yesterday I was lurking on my favorite soap forum, and was reading in the fragrance section a post about the essential oil palmarosa, and how this person does not like the scent, and wonders now what she is going to do with the amount she has left. This brought on a discussion of blending with palmarosa, and also a discussion about other essential oils that some folks find have a definite "yuk" factor. The entire thread actually has quite a humorous note to it and had me giggling quite a bit.

But it also had me thinking about smells, and how some people like a certain smell and others will find the same smell disgusting. I was born and raised in Western Massachusetts, where there is a bit of farming. I LIKE the smell of cow manure, although I'm sure there are plenty of folks that will say "yewwwwww" to that! And I also like a faint wiff of skunk spray ... not the in-your-face-the-dog-just-got-sprayed overpowering smell, but just a faint wiff is good.

As for essential oils, I like palmarosa, and was a bit surprised to find so many folks think it has a certain yuk factor to it. In fact, one of my favorite soaps is my Palmarosa Lavender soap, which is a blend of palmarosa, lavender, geranium, and patchouli.

One other essential oil always brought up in these kinds of discussions (and yes, there are plenty of them in soap forums!) is patchouli. To me, patchouli by itself has a definite stink factor. In blends, used lightly, patchouli is wonderful. But whenever I make a straight up patchouli soap, I can't wait to get it off my kitchen counter and into the soap room, away from my nose. Funny thing, though. I have been using up a scrap piece of straight up patchouli soap at my kitchen sink, and I LIKE it! Don't ask me what happen, but I like it! Has my nose changed? Has the patch mellowed in the soap? Did I use JUST the right amount of patchouli in that particular batch of soap? I don't know! I do have a newer batch of straight up patchouli soap curing on the curing rack, just about ready to go into the shop. I think I need to try a piece of that batch, see if I like it or not.

So how about you? Do you like certain smells that others think are "yuk"? :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Valentine's Day Sale at Jewelry From Tucson

I am having a Valentine's Day Sale at Jewelry From Tucson! Find the perfect gift for your special Valentine. :)

30% off all jewelry. Use coupon code VALENTINE during checkout to receive the discount. Remember, you MUST use coupon code VALENTINE during checkout to automatically receive the 30% discount!

Jewelry From Tucson

Some of the lovely pieces for sale ...

A Turquoise and Red Coral Bracelet
Regular price $109 With discount $76.30

Citrine, Red Aventurine, Carnelian Necklace
Regular price $48.00 With discount $33.60

Red Garnet Earrings
Regular price $20.00 With discount $14.00

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flat Spiral Stitch Bracelets

I taught myself a little bit of beadweaving, concentrating on the Flat Spiral Stitch. You can find all kinds of tutorials for doing this, especially on YouTube. It's a nice stitch, an easy stitch, and the bracelets have a nice fluidity to them once they are done. I've tried a few different sizes of beads, and a couple of different shapes for the middle beads. But I have found that the best to start with is the 6mm round beads.

This first one pictured is made with Red Creek Jasper 6mm rounds. Complimented with bronze colored seed beads.

Red Creek Jasper Bracelet

I made a doubled row one for Christmas .. a nice bright red and gold ! I used slightly larger beads .. 8mm. So it's a good sized bracelet!

Christmas Bracelet

This next one I deliberately made too big for me, because I knew if I made it to fit me, I would want to keep it for sure! Why? Because it is sterling silver, and I just love sterling silver! :) I used 6mm and 3mm smooth round sterling silver beads. I had a heck of a time getting a decent picture because of the silver - well, actually, I just couldn't get a really good pic. So trust me, the pictures of it do NOT do it justice! At all! The blue accent beads are 3mm faceted sodalite.

Sterling Silver Bracelet

I wanted to make one with pearls. But all the pearls that I have, have very small holes, too small for my needle to easily pass through. I think I will have to get some Swarovski Pearls, which are made from glass. Or maybe at the gem show this weekend I can see if anyone carries pearls with larger holes. BUT I do have some 6mm mother of pearl beads, so I made up a bracelet using some. I used white pearly looking seed beads, and some fantastic cobalt blue seed beads. I like it!

Mother of Pearl Bracelet

I made one using Swarovski Crystals and silver lined seed beads. Sparkly !!

Swarovski Crystal Bracelet

I made one this week, with the same beads as I used for my very first one that I made. The first one I made I considered my practice piece and kept it for myself. Mainly because I used amethyst, which is my birthstone. And I just plain like it! It's a little rough around the edges, but I wear it anyways. This one that I made this week, came out much better than my practice piece. It sold almost as soon as I listed it!!! :) Which made me very happy! Made with 6mm faceted amethyst, 4mm Czech glass beads, and bronze metallic hex cut seed beads.

The big Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is this weekend. I'll be on the lookout for lots of 6mm round beads for making more flat spiral stitch bracelets! :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ginger - part 2

In my last post, I talked about ginger blends. One of the blends is called Ginger Floral, a blend of ginger, eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, rosemary, and a touch of ylang ylang. The eucalyptus was a little annoying to my nose, between that and the rosemary it made it more herbaceous then floral to me. SO, I tried again, just going with the ginger, lavender, lemon, and ylang ylang. YES, I like it much better!

This soap is also a layered soap. I used red clay instead of rose clay, with a touch of red oxide giving a much darker red. The middle line is red clay. The recipe - olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, rice bran oil, and avocado oil. And I gave it the simple name of Ginger Lavender.

Using the same recipe - actually, the other half of the soap pot - I made a simple peppermint blend. A lot of peppermint, and a little ginger. Naturally, the peppermint has overpowered the ginger, although I can catch faint wiffs of it. The ginger seems to have brought the scent down a note, but it is mostly peppermint that I smell. I used the same red clay/red oxide mix to make swirls. I've been calling it Winter Peppermint, but I'll probably rename it, because everyone is already thinking spring. :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012


I've started using ginger essential oil for the first time for scenting my soaps. Interesting scent! I'm not crazy about it by itself, but used in blends can be very nice!

I started with 2 blends. One called Floral Ginger, the other called Spiced Woods (which I call Sweet Orange Ginger). Here's the Floral Ginger

And the Spiced Woods/Sweet Orange Ginger

I used the same recipe for both of them, because it is a nice, easy recipe, slow to trace so I can make my layers or swirl without speeding along .... because anyone that knows me, knows I don't speed along! :-D The recipe calls for olive oil and coconut oil (of course, that is the start of all my soap recipes), canola oil, rice bran oil, and avocado oil. Not only is this a nice recipe for soap playing, but it makes a wonderful mild soap!

The scent blend for the Floral Ginger called for Ginger, Lemon Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Rosemary. I did not have Lemon Eucalyptus, but I did have Globulus Eucalyptus, and Lemon. So, my blend was Ginger, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lavender, and Rosemary. AND, I added a touch of Ylang Ylang, just because.

The blend is nice, but my nose doesn't like so much Eucalyptus. So I am slightly unsatisfied with this blend. More about this later.

This soap was the first in my series of layered soaps with a middle line, in my attempt to liven up the soap room. I used Rose Clay to color the bottom layer. Once I poured the bottom layer, I sprinkled Rose Clay on the top of it. I just used a tea spoon, and sprinkled it like I was sprinkling sugar on cereal, trying not to make it too thick or clumpy but covering the entire log. I let it set for a few minutes. Then, for the top layer, I used my ladle, and poured the soap from the ladle to my spatula which was hovering as close to the soap in the mold as I could hold it without disturbing either the pink soap already there or the layer of clay. This soap was at a thin to medium trace so it would be easy to pour. For the top swirl, I just used the scrapings from the bottom layer that was left in the soap pot, took a wooden skewer and swirled that little bit of pink soap down the top.

The second soap, Spiced Woods/Sweet Orange Ginger, is a blend of Ginger, Orange, Patchouli, Peppermint, and Lime. It's nice! Mostly the Ginger and Orange comes through. I didn't add anything colorwise to this soap.

I'll talk more about ginger blends in my next post. :)

Friday, January 20, 2012


I have had a soap in my soap room that I made in April, of 2009. Yes, 2009. I called it Earthbound because of the blend of essential oils that I put together for it .... Cedarwood, Patchouli, Clove, and Lime. A very earthy scent! And made light swirls with Rhassoul Clay.

Now, when I made this soap, I went about my soapmaking routine ... mix the lye and water, leave it in the sink while I get my molds lined, my oils mixed, and any scents, clays, and other additives all ready. When I proceeded to mix the lye mixture with the oils, I discovered that the bucket the lye was in had a small leak in the bottom. Since it was unsafe to stand there with a leaking lye bucket while I thought Hmmmm what to do, I went ahead and poured it into the oils. I had no idea how much of the lye mixture had actually leaked out, so even though I briefly thought about adding more lye, I just didn't know how much it would be safe to add. So I didn't want to do that. But not wanting to waste so much oil, I went about my business and made the soap as otherwise planned, not knowing how it would come out.

It was about 3 or 4 days before I could cut it, it was so soft. But cut it I did, and put it on the curing rack. As the weeks and months went by, every now and then I would poke at one of them, and they just never hardened up like my other soaps. I had no problem making an indentation with my thumb.

And finally, almost 3 years later, last week I decided to use one. And you know what? It's one of the mildest soaps I have ever used! Yeah! They are still kind of soft, just a bit tacky to the touch. But the scent is marvelous! Talk about a mellow earthy scent! The lime scent has faded, but the cedarwood, patchouli, and clove are still strong and wonderful!

I keep wondering about the percentage of superfat. For all the none-soapers, a bit of explanation. There is a specific ratio of lye to oils/fat that is needed make sure that ALL the lye has been used and turned to soap in the chemical process that occurs at the meeting of lye and oils/fats. Any amount of oils/fats over that ratio, we refer to as superfatting. I usually superfat my soaps at around 5-6 percent. I'm GUESSING that these soaps are around 20 percent superfat, but I really am guessing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Beer Soap

In the works for this week .. Beer Soap! After making the Raspberry Wheat Beer soap with Oatmeal and Honey, I thought I would do a line of beer soaps. But I don't want to use the average commercial type football beer, I want to use something different! And I don't want to have to buy a six pack, because I only need 22-24 oz per batch.

So I went to a store here in Tucson called Total Wine & More. Ever been to one of these?? It's a Walmart sized store FULL of wine and beer. All kinds of beer. Beer I've never heard of. And the best part, they have one full aisle dedicated to single bottles so you can mix and match.

I got 4 different kinds of beer to start my new beer line. Right now, I have two of the beers poured off and going flat so I can make soap with them tomorrow.

First up, Orange Blossom Amber. Doesn't that sound just yummy as a soap?!! Across the label it says "Premium Flavored Lager Malt Beverage Brewed with Orange Peels". Made by the Indian Wells Brewing Co out of Inyokern, CA. And never mind the beer, look at the label! Some of the labels on the beers are absolutely lovely!

Also poured off is a red ale by a Tempe, Arizona, brewing company called Sleepy Dog Brewery. This beer is called Red Rover Amber Ale. The label calls it an Irish style ale. Very dark! Nice dog label. :)

Another local Arizona beer I'll use next week is out of Phoenix, the Old World Brewery. The beer is called Nitro Blonde Ale. I'm hoping it's a nice light colored beer.

And finally, a beer I got just because I liked the name and the label - Coronado Mermaid's Red. This is a brewing company out of California. I like the description, too. "Sure to put a scale on your tail". :)

I have a great urge to soak the labels off carefully and save them!