Welcome to Wedding Whichever Day! Sure, it was Wedding Wednesday, but when you have a blog post half written for weeks and keep missing Wednesday, you gotta do what you gotta do.
Ya know how I’m the Sometimes Sewist? I know it seems more like I am the All-The-Time Sewist, but there are a few other crafts that I enjoy and have told myself I’m good at. ;) I attribute my sewing bias to the fact that most clothes are much quicker and thus more gratifying for me to make these days than say, knitting a sweater or making a stained glass sun catcher (I do love me some solder, though).
Like everything in life, my crafting has gone through seasons, but my first real love was sewing, so it’s only appropriate that I have returned to it pretty much full-crafting-time. My mom finally let me try her sewing machine when I was 12 or 13, since she was convinced I would sew through my fingers (which I have not done to this day; hurrah! *knock on wood*).
My second love is knitting, which was my primary craft for a few years after college. I particularly love knitting socks and lace (mostly shawls).
My third love? (Yeesh, such a hussy!) Well, my third love never fully bloomed past infatuation, but I still dabble it in from time to time because I enjoy the end product: cold process soaping. AKA real soap. Made with lye and oils (and love).
I first learned about it from the Bath and Beauty boards at Craftster.org, which are a great source for tutorials and chocked full of folks who generously share their knowledgeable of soapmaking. I don’t hang at Craftster anymore, but it’s a great community.
But, back to wedding shiz. I toyed with not having a wedding favor, (because no one really cares, right?) but ultimately decided to spend the time making personalized soaps with our wedding date on them.
I typically make my soap with wooden log and slab molds that my awesome dad made for me, and cut bars from the log. It’s fast, easy, and gives each bar a definite handmade look. However, I knew I wanted something a bit more refined for our wedding, so I started hunting. My criteria:
1. Uniform appearance (so, a cavity mold instead of a log mold)
2. Big enough to use a soap stamp on for customization
Both of these things come in various sizes, so I just had to decide what I wanted and where to get it from. Ultimately, I bought 2 of these silicone molds from Brambleberry:
And after a bunch of soap stamp research, I ended up going with Bebe’s Collection for the soap stamp, which is basically a deep, heavy acrylic stamp. They were one of the most reasonable options I found and their customer service and quality were both great. Plus, once the design was finalized, it came from across the globe SUPER quickly! NAYY
Soap usually takes a few weeks to cure/dry before you can use it. There are different schools of thought on how long is necessary for it to be safe to use, but the longer you wait, the less water is in it and the longer it’ll last. I typically age my soaps 4-6 weeks before use.
When using a soap stamp, you wait for the soap to set up, but not to completely harden, obviously. It’s really kind of a balance of having the soap firm enough for a good imprint, but soft enough to take the imprint. I found my soap dried a bit slower in these silicone molds than in my wooden molds lined with freezer paper, so I waited 2 days or so before popping each one out and pressing the stamp into each. I’m really pretty thrilled how they turned out as a whole, even if you can see my finger prints in the edges of some of them. Soap stamps are pretty cool, and I could see myself using them again in the future.
I’ve been soaping for a few years and have honed my own recipes, so I went with pretty much my most basic (which I call: Just Soap), since it didn’t have any tree nut oils in it and we had at least one nut allergic guest coming. Can I just say that it’s so weird to me that shea butter comes from a nut? I also left them unscented, since scent is so personal, plus who wants to smell that while they’re trying to eat dinner?
I did try to add a bit of glitz to most of the bars, though, with this beautiful opalescent violet mica, also from Brambleberry:
Unfortunately, I couldn’t really see it once the bars had set, but it was a fun idea! I have typically used these pearly micas in a small portion of the soap that I then swirled into the rest of the soap, but it’s a little hard to do that when you’re pouring each soap into an individual cavity. Soap can set pretty quickly and it just would take too long…and once it starts to set, you don’t get the smooth pours that you want.
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CP soaping is really pretty easy and relatively fast, but I just want to put out a few words of warning:
1. ALWAYS wear goggles. Lye can blind. It’s not worth risking your eyesight because you’re lazy.
2. Find the longest kitchen gloves possible, for the love of God.
3. You should also wear clothes. Just because it’s 80 degrees out and you’re hot does not mean you should make soap in your underwear. This is how you get lye burns on your tummy. Just use your brain and don’t be a moron like somebody you know.
4, NEVER use tools/pots/pans that were used to make soap for food prep again. Ever.
5. ALWAYS pour lye into water to create a lye bath. Never, ever the other way around because it can cause a mini explosion. I can imagine few things worse than being splashed with a bunch of caustic water.
6. Lye reacts with aluminum, and some other metals. Do your research to make sure your tools and molds are appropriate.
These are by no means the only things to think about, but I thought I’d put down some very basic safety tips just in case you decide to delve in. With soaping, moreso than many other crafts, it’s best to do a lot of reading before you start so you can be sure you are doing things the safe, correct way. A great book to get you started is Smart Soapmaking by Anne Watson. I also have and enjoy The Soapmaker’s Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch, and my favorite lye calculator (you must use a lye calculator with every new recipe or change in recipe size!) is SoapCalc.
I can go into some of this stuff more here, too, if you’re really interested. I know most of you who are reading this are of the textile crafting persuasion. ;)
Next week: Wedding recap! You know, whenever “next week” happens. ;)