Saturday, November 28, 2009

Shout-Out to Rocket Donuts!

Here at Otion, we have the (guilty) pleasure of working directly across from Rocket Donuts in downtown Bellingham. I can see the donuts from our window. Heck, we can practically smell the delicious goodness, or is that just our new Clementine Cupcake fragrance? Anyway, let me just say, you guys rock! Right now, I'm lovin' your pumpkin spice cake donut topped with homemade cream cheese. It's a little Christmas present for my mouth and most definitely deserves honorable mention of donut of the month.

Plus, the coffee's always great, as is the awesome service. If you're not feeling the donuts (haha, that's a funny thought), there are also fresh baked muffins (my favorite is the vegan blueberry raspberry muffin-- there are many vegan options all over the menu), quiche, and breakfast wraps.

Here's an idea! Come visit us at the store, make some holiday soap for Christmas presents and stocking stuffers at the Soap Bar, walk across the street to Rocket and reward yourself for the fabulous soap you just made. When you return, your soapy creations will be hardened and out of the mold ready to take home!

Monday, November 23, 2009

November Cold Process Class

Cheers to another new group of cold process soap makers! Check out these incredible bars made in Saturday's class.

I didn't have to ask twice for volunteers to portion oils or even to make the lye solution-- everyone was eager to learn, full of great questions, and stepped right up to participate. Many had already played with melt-and-pour soap making and were ready to start from scratch.

We went over everything from additives, color, properties of oils, fragrance vs. essential oils, supplies, molds, safety with sodium hydroxide, what soap is and how it works, swirling and layering techniques, you name it.

Congrats on your new skill and let the experimenting and creativity begin!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Something Different

Felted wish stones are a unique gift that will have people asking, "How did you do that?" Not to mention, it's an interesting project that can be made using a few simple household items and some sheep's wool. We're going to make a very enigmatic looking object, and you'll either love it or find it a little too weird. So, let's get started!

Grab a small stone from the yard, preferably about the size of your hand with a fairly smooth surface. Next, you need two medium sized pots or bowls for water-- one for hot and one for cold, some liquid dish soap, rubber gloves, an old nylon stocking and some scissors, and finally wool for felting which you can buy in various colors at your local yarn or craft store. Now, be prepared for some serious scrubbing action; this project is a mini workout, too!

The first step is to cut the foot off your stocking, so make sure you don't want it anymore. We will use this to hold the felt onto the stone during the felting process. Prepare your space in the kitchen by filling up one of your pots with very cold water and one with very hot water. You can boil the water on the stove first if you prefer. Always take proper safety precautions when using high temperatures.

Next, pull off several thin layers of wool and begin layering them on your stone until all of the stone's surface area is well hidden beneath at least an inch or two of wool. Each layer should go in opposite directions-- think of placing each layer in an "X" pattern. It will look like a giant hair ball at this point, but trust me, the wool will condense during the felting process. Here's the tricky part, put your hair ball rock into the foot of the stocking and tie it tight with a slip not that can easily be untied again. We'll be retying it as we go to keep pulling the stocking tight against the stone, which helps the fibers form together. The tricky part is making sure the stone continues to stay covered with wool on all sides while being shoved into a tiny stocking.

Now, put on your rubber gloves because your hands will be going back and forth between very hot and very cold water, and you don't want to feel it. Let the felting begin! Dip the stone into hot water and squirt a generous amount of liquid dish soap all over it (the slip will keep the scrubbing process from being too abrasive). Now, rub the stone like crazy. Then dip it into the cold water and repeat. Go back and forth between hot and cold, adding soap, scrubbing hard and you will shock the the wool fibers, felting them together. As you continue this process for at least 10 to fifteen minutes, untie the stocking and move the stone around in it, and retie it nice and tight. If you keep scrubbing the same places over and over without rotating your stone, you may get a little wool that finds its way up into the knot of the stocking and that ends up looking like a little tail. You can easily just cut this part off if it happens.

To add the band of color, thus making it a wish stone (I've also heard the band symbolizes good luck), pull back the stocking halfway through the scrubbing process and wrap a thin band of wool in a different color all around the stone, retie the stocking and continue felting. The more scrubbing the better! You will know you are done when the fibers are flat against the stone and there are no floofs of wool unattached. Squeeze the stone to get out excess water and sit it on the counter to dry. There you have it! You can even do this with soap as a natural exfoliate. The heft of the stone makes an interesting contrast with the lightness of the wool. If you want to have a little fun, have someone close their eyes and feel it before they know what it is, you'll get a great reaction! Enjoy using this new skill to felt just about anything.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fun at the Soap Bar

We had a super busy Saturday at Otion with multiple soap bars. We love having people just walk into the store and saunter up to the bar to make soap on the fly. It's total instant gratification as crafters get to take their soap home in just 20 minutes after their soap is made. It's just barely enough time to head next door to Rocket Donuts and grab a donut.

Georgia and Kaya came in this weekend and made GREAT soap. They are 7 and 8 years old and really got into choosing the perfect colors and molds. You can tell that glitter was a big factor in their color choices.

It's super easy to make soap. You can come in and learn on the fly at the Soap Bar or take one of our classes for a more detailed, in depth technique and project class. We're going to do some stocking stuffer classes so stay tuned for dates and information.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Upcoming Classes

Our cold process class for November 21st is officially full, but feel free to sign up for the next session on Saturday, December 19th. Classes start at 3 p.m. and cost $30. For more information, click here. We are also in the process of scheduling lotion classes again, so keep an eye out for further updates.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

'Tis the Season!

Are you ready for the holidays? It might be hard to believe, but it's that time already. Candles, lip balm, gingerbread men and holiday stamp soaps make the perfect stocking stuffer. It's easy to customize gifts for your friends and family by using their favorite scents and colors, or simply use our Christmas Cheer Fragrance Kit to cover all the must-have holiday aromas.

Handmade soy candles are easy to make gifts and create the perfect ambiance for holiday gatherings (check out the candle page at Bramble Berry for all the basics). Plus, our candle tins are great for quick packaging-- just slap your personalized sticker on the top and you're done!

We'll help you keep the stress out of your seasonal soaping, just click here for a full list of winter holiday molds, colors and fragrances-- you'll be sure to get some fun ideas. You can also follow Anne-Marie on Soap Queen T.V. for step-by-step project tutorials so you can get it done right the first time. Happy holidays!