Thursday, December 30, 2010

Celebrate with a Little Bubbly!

Bring in the New Year with our favorite bubbly fragrance; Champagne! Perfect for that special occasion, this scent smells just like champagne or the fizzy bubbles in ginger ale. Plus, it is incredibly strong and long lasting in CP soap and behaves like a dream when soaping. Because it is so unique and versatile, it can easily be blended to make all manner of Italian iced soda scents or general pop scents that the kids will love (mix it with a berry for a yummy soda pop scent).

Last year, Soap Queen Anne-Marie came up with these adorable champagne scented New Year's Eve party favor soaps for celebrating 2010. Click here for the full tutorial.

Here's another project from Soap Queen that you can make for New Year's gifts
or get a head start on Valentine's Day: Champagne Bubble Bath!

Have a safe and fun New Year's from all of us at Otion. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fight the Flu with Essential Oils

It's official, the flu is going around and we are especially prone to catching a bug after spending time with so many of our friends and family over the holidays. Here are some essential oils that will help you feel better:

Eucalyptus loosens mucus and helps heals the throat, nasal passages and bronchial tubes. It acts as a great decongestant with germicidal and anti-bacterial properties. Many people associate the scent of this oil with Vicks VapoRub. Try adding 4 drops of Eucalyptus to a carrier oil such as olive oil and use as a chest rub. Keep in mind, this essential oil is too strong for children under six years of age.

Lavender is not just a lovely scent, it stimulates the immune system and relaxes and soothes aches and chills. Lavender is a wonderful calming agent, particularly when blended with chamomile.

Tea Tree acts as an antiseptic and fungicide and also boosts the immune system. It works great when inhaled.

Rosemary is invigorating and aids as a pick-me-up oil when the flu has got you down.

Ten drops of any of these essential oils can be added to your bath water or to a bowl of hot water as a vaporizer. If you are sensitive to essential oils, make sure to use sparingly. Get well soon!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sparkling Sunset Soap

Another fun and easy project at the Soap Bar! Simply fill half of your scalloped mold with clear melt-and-pour soap. I used shredded glitter in this layer for a bit of sparkle. Let it set up while you melt down more soap and split it into three mugs for the sunset colors. I used yellow mica, red/blue mica, and blue mica. Now, spray that clear layer with rubbing alcohol so that your next layer will stick and start pouring your color on top, alternating between each one until the mold is full. Having a clear layer first softens and distances the background color for a gorgeous sky appearance.

Put it in the freezer for 15 minutes and DONE! So easy and so beautiful. Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Look What's New at Otion

Cedarwood Essential Oil

New Toys!
Row 1: Firefly, Front Loader, Excavator,
Row 2: Chick, Circus Seal, Turtle,
Row 3: Little Car, Humpty Dumpty, Hedgehog,
Row 4: Butterfly, Bunny, Police Car

Heart Grid Mold & Beads on String Mold

Baby Onesie Mold

We also just posted some new classes here. The Valentine's Day class is going to be so much fun-- we're making heart-shaped soaps, bath fizzies and body scrubs!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Warm Vanilla Sugar Star Soap

Christmas is quickly approaching and time has run out to start cold process soap gifts this year. No worries! Melt-and-pour is fun, easy and you can create some amazing customized bars like these cute embedded star soaps in no time.

Simply make some unscented stars using the flexible star mold with an opaque melt-and-pour soap base, grab that trusty loaf mold and your spritzer bottle of rubbing alcohol and get ready to make the bulk of the soap. Melt a clear base (honey melt-and-pour works great for this project), color with honeyed beige mica, and scent with Warm Vanilla Sugar fragrance oil. The loaf mold holds about 4.5 pounds of soap, so you will need to melt 4 pounds of clear soap and scent it with 4ml of fragrance per pound. Pour a layer about an inch thick in the loaf mold and let it set up. Line up your stars down the middle of the loaf and spray all over with rubbing alcohol. Now, fill up the loaf with the rest of that yummy scented background color and place it in the freezer. It will take about 40 minutes to harden. When slicing, be sure to use a sharp knife and aim for the center of each star so that each bar has a full star shape in the center. One loaf makes about 10 beautiful bars!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Holidays Just Got Happier

Free Holiday Parking Downtown!

To encourage shoppers to visit downtown during the holidays, the City of Bellingham is launching the Holiday Parking Program, December 13-25. Downtown shoppers can enjoy free parking in metered spaces all day every day.

“We offered free two-hour lunch parking between Thanksgiving and Christmas in past years,” said Clark Williams, Transportation Superintendent with Public Works. “It was confusing for shoppers,” he added. The Downtown Bellingham Partnership proposed longer hours on fewer days this season.

Although parking is free all day, drivers are asked to park responsibly by observing the time limits posted on the meters. Shoppers wishing to stay longer are encouraged to park on the ground floor of the Parkade.

For more information, contact the Transportation Superintendent at 778-7700. Or visit the website

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Holiday Etsy Spotlight: Persnickety Pelican

Whimsical Woolies Felted Soap by Persnickety Pelican, made entirely by hand! Felted soap acts as a washcloth while providing natural soapy suds and lasts longer than a normal bar.

These works of art are really felted soap and are made when ordered! Check out more from this talented mother-daughter team at their online Etsy shop, and their interview with the Soap Queen.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Scraps to Soaps

With your trusty 12" Loaf Budget Mold and that growing pile of melt-and-pour soap scraps, you can create some amazing new bars and save the waste. There's no rhyme or reason to this easy and fun project. Just pour some fresh clear soap base (with sparkly glitter and your favorite fragrance oil) in with your scrap soap and spray everything really well with rubbing alcohol as you do it. The end product is unique and artfully abstract every time!

Get creative and have a fun time doing this project with the kids. These bars make great gifts!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Time to Celebrate!

Yesterday and today have been SO much fun at Otion! We've been celebrating birthdays and making lots of fun melt-and-pour soaps. There was a group of 10 kids in yesterday, and we filled to capacity upstairs with 12 kids this afternoon! Let me tell you, they were the most well behaved and talented soapmakers at only six years old. It was a real treat to have them, and to top it all off, Bellingham is covered in a beautiful layer of fresh snow. It really feels like winter is here already and it's definitely time to start making those soapy holiday gifts.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Red Currant and Thyme

New at Otion! A fruity, berry, citrusy, herbaceous type with top notes of orange blossom, grapefruit, mixed berry and lemon, middle notes of thyme, raspberry, and jasmine, with a powdery, fruity white musky base note. Red Currant and Thyme is a perfect fragrance for the holidays!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Soap Bar Experts

Check out these incredible melt-and-pour masterpieces made the other day at our walk-in "Soap Bar." I love the seashells! I think someone must be dreaming of a tropical escape from this cold, winter-like weather we've been having.

Think you want to make soap but not ready to make the investment in supplies and equipment? Otion's unique "Soap-on-the-Fly" Soap Bar is the solution!

How it works:

* Just come by, or for a specific time, call ahead and make an appointment
* Cost is $7.75 for your soap making session and includes fragrance, coloring, molds and instruction.
* Ages 12 and under: soap base is included. Ages 12 and over: soap base is not included. (Soap base is available at Otion, average cost is $3.25 per pound)

No mess, no clean up for you and best of all, an experienced soapmaker at your side the entire time, ready to answer all your questions! Plus, we have a new "Soap Stamp" coupon for anyone who comes in to use the Soap Bar: a 20% off savings of your next purchase in the store.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Just in Time for the Holidays

Last Sunday was our first cold process soapmaking class of November, and since the soap takes about a month to cure, students jumped on the opportunity to get some gifts started.

I am always impressed by the beautiful soaps made in class, and love seeing students pick up advanced swirling techniques so quickly. We had a great time and I am looking forward to another Gift Givers class and cold process class at the end of the month.

Thank you everyone for a great class! If you are interested in learning how to make soap from scratch, please visit our website and check for the next available class. Feel free to sign up online or call us at (360) 676-1030.

Friday, November 5, 2010

New Winter White Fragrance at Otion

If you lived in the North Pole and walked out of Santa’s Workshop and took a deep whiff, what would you expect to smell? Winter White is designed to invoke a subtle twist on clean air mint with notes of Spearmint, Peppermint and exotic Water Mint. Of course, at Santa’s Workshop, you won’t be surprised to find a few notes of Chocolate and Hot Cocoa wafting out of the windows as well. This blend is finished up with a beautiful soft dry down of Vetevyr and delicate West Indian Vanilla. Because of the sweeter notes, this fragrance does discolor in all soap (though vanilla color stabilizer can decrease this). This fragrance performs beautifully in CP. Flashpoint over 200ยบ.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Tick-or-treat! Have a fun and safe Halloween weekend everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Learn it All!

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, we had the pleasure of teaching Sophie from San Francisco everything she wanted to learn about making soap and other bath and body products. Here's what was made with instructors Anne-Marie, Erik, and Kat: liquid soap in two stages, cold process beginning and advanced, lotion making, bath bombs, and melt-and-pour techniques beginning and advanced. Sophie is sensitive to fragrance oils, so we used pure essential oils for all of her products and had a lot of fun experimenting with scent blending.

Thank you Sophie, we had so much fun and wish you the very best on your future soaping endeavors!

Interested in taking a private class? Sign up here or give us a call at the store at (360) 676-1030 to schedule a session. Plus, we have Early Bird registration for Soap Weekend Intensive 2011 at a discounted price through March 1st, where soapmaking is taken to the next level and taught by an all-star cast of instructors. Hurry, this event fills fast!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

'Tis the Time for Gift Making!

Last night was our first Gift Givers Class of the season, and it was a blast! We made lip balm from scratch, bath fizzies, and salt and sugar scrubs. Each person created unique gifts for four people, with personalized scent, color, and additives such as rose petals, lavender buds, apricot seed powder and ground loofah. Above are some other examples of handmade holiday presents, including soy candles and the ever-popular gingerbread man soap. If you can't make it to one of our classes, here's a fun little bath fizzy tutorial inspired by student Jeanine who created beautiful blue snowflake fizzies in last night's Gift Givers group. Our next class will be on Tuesday November 30th at 6pm, $30.

Here's what you'll need:
Witch hazel in a spritzer bottle
Baking Soda
Citric Acid

Step 1.
Combine 1/2 cup citric acid and 1 full cup baking soda. Blend well and add 2 ml fragrance. I used Peppermint 2nd Distillation Essential Oil.

Step 2:
Add color and blend. Just the tip of a teaspoon is all you need! I used Cellini Blue Mica pigment. Blending everything together is key so that you don't end up with little bumps in the end.

Step 3:
While hand-mixing, spritz with witch hazel. This will bind the batch together so it holds shape in the mold. Too little witch hazel creates a loose and crumbly fizzy, and too much be too wet and set off the fizzy process.

Step 4:
When you can squeeze the mix in your hand and it holds its shape, you are ready to fill the mold!

Step 5:
The harder you compact the mixture into the mold, the firmer and longer-lasting your bath fizzy.

That's it! Now turn over your mold to pop them out and set them on the table to dry for a few hours. Careful, they will drop out really quickly and if you are holding your mold up high, they could fall and break on the counter. Also, keep in mind that if you spray them with witch hazel as a final touch to add hardness, it will set off the fizzy process on the surface and blur those gorgeous details.

Wasn't that easy? Bath fizzies are really fun and make great gifts, plus the kids will be begging for bath time. For a bigger batch (this made 8 fizzies), simply follow the basic recipe of 1 part citric acid to two parts baking soda. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lavender Test Batch

Testing, testing! I'm really excited about this new lavender fragrance oil we're trying out. So far it has performed beautifully in cold process soap and the fragrance is incredible-- I can't tell it apart from the real thing! I used ultramarine violet oxide and left the rest of the soap uncolored (notice how white without the use of titanium dioxide!).

Many customers have come to me asking for help with the ultramarine violet pigment, saying it won't change colors or that it goes gray. I have experienced that as well, but only when I hand-mix the color in. I really recommend stick-blending the pigment in the raw soap to activate the color. It needs a little extra force to break it up, but then you'll see it burst into violet.

Quick Swirl Tip!
For a basic yet striking swirl pattern, I only colored about 1/4 of the batch and left the rest neutral (if you have a fragrance with vanilla in it, you will need to add titanium dioxide to lighten it, otherwise the soap will brown). Begin by pouring a layer of white, then pour a small amount of violet in an "S" pattern from one end to the other, go back with a layer of white, and repeat with the violet pattern until the mold is full. Leave it or do a figure-eight with a spoon or knife for further detail.

Above is a shot of the cold process batch going through "gel phase." You can tell by the darker center that has a transparent appearance. This happens when you insulate your soap and the heat rises, which quickens the saponification process. Many soapmakers prefer un-gelled soap for its silky and velvety texture. Also, keep in mind not to insulate milk soap because the high temperatures will burn the milk. The soap was about 120F degrees at this point.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pumpkin Lager Halloween Soap

This beer scent is a favorite in the Bramble Berry warehouse. Fall in love with the magical and warm blend of Pumpkin Puree, Fresh Ginger, Crushed Nutmeg, Warm Cinnamon, Vanilla Sugar and Sparkling Rum. It accelerates trace in cold process soap and discolors to a dark brown. Recommended usage rates in cold process are 1/2 oz. per pound of soap. Now at Otion!

The Flexible Skull mold is my favorite for this time of year. I love mixing in a little antique blue mica and black oxide pigment to pop out the amazing details. For all your Halloween soap project needs, click here!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Floating Leaves Autumn Bars

This project takes embedding to a different level. Normally, you'd use a clear soap base and place the embed inside. We're using an opaque base and using the bottom of the bar as the top, allowing our leaf to pop out! It's surprisingly simple and the end result is gorgeous!

What You'll Need:

Part 1. Leaves

1. Melt about 2 cups of chopped white soap base for the leaves and scent with 4ml Sensuous Sandalwood before adding color.
2. Split the soap into two cups; color one cup with Merlot Mica and the other with Yellow Mica.
3. Make the leaves by pouring both colors at the same time to create a swirl. Let them harden in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Part. 2. Water Background
1. Melt another 2 cups of white soap base and scent with 4ml Sensuous Sandalwood.
2. Color the entire thing with 1-2 drops of Brilliant Blue Labcolor. Add more color for a deeper blue.
3. Fill each cavity of the basic shapes mold halfway. Put in freezer for ten minutes. Leave some blue soap as leftover to be used in the embedding phase.

Part. 3. Embedding
1. Pop out the leaves and keep the blue soap in its mold. Keep in mind the leaves mold makes five bars and the basic shapes mold makes four, so you will have to repeat part 2 for one more bar.
2. Pour a thin layer of blue soap over the hardened ones (make sure to spray with rubbing alcohol first!) You may need to re-heat the leftover blue soap in your dish before pouring.
3. Spray the back of the leaf and place into the wet layer of blue soap in the basic shape mold. Let it harden in freezer for five minutes and you're done!