Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Itching to Make Lotion?

If you can hardly wait until August to learn how to make lotion at Soap Weekend Intensive, we have a class with SWI instructor Jill Heuser coming right up at Otion! Jill is the lotion and soap making artist behind the beautiful and luxurious products of Northwest Scents.

Northwest Scents grew out of one woman’s dream for quality, gentle and unique bath and body products. Jill’s goal is to use the highest quality ingredients available to create the finest selection of bath and body products possible. Using exotic butters, oils and other natural ingredients to nourish and pamper her customers.

Northwest Scents has quickly become a local favorite. She creates products in her “spare time” when she is not wrangling her three energetic kids. Jill has been making bath & body products for 8 years and has taught at Otion for the last 4. With her degree in Biology, she’s a natural at explaining the chemistry behind lotion making.

Her next class will be held at Otion on Saturday March 6th at 3pm. Learn how to design your own luscious lotion recipe, the regulations surrounding labeling, and all about preservatives! Cost is $30 and will include all handouts and materials for you to make two 6 oz bottles of lotion to take home. Feel free to sign up online or call us directly at Otion at (360) 676-1030 to reserve your spot.

Friday, February 19, 2010

SWI Announcement! Big News, People!

Soap Weekend Intensive Teacher from Down Under
Meet Jude Birch from Aussie Soap Supplies!

Otion is hosting it's third annual weekend of intense soap making instruction! We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to join us in a series of small, hands-on soap and lotion making classes to take your crafting skills to the next level, starting with practical advice and base knowledge, all from expert instructors from around the globe. We are thrilled to introduce cold process soap expert and instructor at this year's Soap Weekend Intensive, Jude Birch!

I have been fascinated with the Alchemy of Soap Making since my teenage years. I finally made my first batch of Cold Processed Soap over 20 years ago, but I had more questions than answers! Batch after batch of “ordinary” Soap followed, with many failures. I improved with lots of enthusiasm and practise and became more adventurous.

I learned so much more once I went online just over 10 years ago. I found there were so many helpful Soapers who generously shared their experiences that my Soap knowledge grew in leaps and bounds. The search for perfect Soap led me to having a very clean family with loads of gifts for friends!

I was then making Soap just for pleasure, but my family and friends convinced me that I should turn this little hobby into a business. This is when I really started to consider the true creativity I could achieve by using Colour and Fragrance. It was no longer just about the Oils that I used and the feel of the soap, but the instinctive match of fragrance and colour that really made my Soap come to life.

Selling Soap, moisturisers and my other body products at Craft Fairs put me face to face with customers and I realised people were asking for three main things. Firstly, the questions customers asked proved how valuable the time was that I had spent learning to understand my ingredients and making sure my products were safe. Secondly, they wanted quality Handmade Soap and Moisturisers.

Finally, there were a lot of people who were desperate to learn how to make Soap for themselves, and like me when I began, didn’t know how to start. I felt a responsibility to pass on what I had learned and to provide a sound basis for workshop participants so they could go home and make good, safe Soap.

Aussie Soap Supplies was born from the desire to support new Soapers and to source quality Soap and Lotion ingredients, especially fragrance and colour. As we were already importing Bramble Berry Fragrances for our retail and wholesale Soap Business we were thrilled to be able to distribute Bramble Berry products in Australia. That was 8 years ago and with the support of Bramble Berry we grow bigger and better each year and continue to support Home Crafters and Small Business operators with the best Fragrances and Ingredients.

Hand in hand with my passion for Soapmaking was the reality that there was a great need for openness and education in the use of ingredients in Australia. Aussie Soap Supplies extensive Recipe Formulary is an on going commitment to this need.

I still have great excitement as I sneak a peek at each batch of soap I have “put to bed” and begin thinking about my next batch.
~Jude Birch

We're so excited to have Jude on board to teach at the 3rd annual Soap Weekend Intensive. Check out the dates here and sign up today! See you in August!

Personalize Your Soap

I'm still feelin' the month of love and want to share with you one of my favorite little tricks. I love soap stamps and I want everyone to try them! I love them most of all because they are easy and provide instant gratification. Plus, you get to use a rubber mallet, which is always fun.

It truly is as easy as one, two, three. All you need to do is pick a stamp, center stamp on cut bar and give it a few light whacks. Easy as pie.

Try cutting off a slice with a crinkle cutter first. A freshly cut bar is easier to stamp than one that has been exposed to the air for a long time and has hardened up. The wavy background from the crinkle cutter looks great with a stamp, and leaves you with a professional, customized product. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pet Potions

Aromatherapy massage for the dog? Yes, it's true. Our furry friends can benefit from the healing properties of essential oils, but take note that you must be even more cautious when using pure essential oils on pets. First of all, animals will lick off whatever you put on them wherever they can reach. Secondly, animal skin absorbs oil at a different rate than our skin.

According to The Essential Oils Book by Colleen K. Dodt, you can use essential oils to confront everything from flea control to depression. Lavender, tea tree, chamomile, bergamot, cedarwood, juniper, rosemary, sandalwood, geranium, patchouli, sweet orange, and eucalyptus are among the most successful oils. Colleen really stresses the point to avoid using pennyroyal essential oil on your pet, even though it is a popular flea repellant. It is just too concentrated in pure essential oil form.

I really like her idea of making an herbal bug-repellant pillow for your pet's bed. She suggests adding equal amounts of lavender flowers, cedarwood chips and pennyroyal herb (not oil!) to the stuffing of a pillow. You can also substitute pure essential oils for the dried herbs, but only use 5 drops total per pillow. Another trick is adding oils in a small amount to your pet's bathwater. Colleen recommends using 8 drops of essential oil total (such as eucalyptus, lavender, juniper, cedarwood, peppermint or tea tree) to two gallons of water.

Things to avoid when working with essential oils and your pets:
  1. No pennyroyal oil
  2. Avoid using citrus oils. They are too irritating.
  3. No pure essential oils with young puppies or kittens.
  4. Always consult with a qualified veterinarian before attempting to treat your pet's potentially serious condition on your own.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday's Etsy Adventure: Strange Soap

I too, am guilty of surfing through the endless handmade creations on It's a great source of inspiration and in this case, amusement. While checking out the soap section, I came across some very odd creations that seem more like works of art that should be on display in a modern gallery rather than on a soap dish. This blew my mind-- I can't tell it's soap! I'm not sure how I would feel lathering up a piece of toast and jam, but I have to say, it would make a great gift for the prankster in your life.

Check out the genius work of Soapopotamus!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine Goodies Continued

Here's another fun heart embed melt-and-pour project with a different twist. Simply make the hearts ahead of time, pour a bottom layer of clear base with your choice of color and fragrance into a loaf mold, wait for it to set up, spray the layer with rubbing alcohol and pour a layer of clear soap on top (hot soap will melt right through the bottom layer and will also be too hot for embeds, so make sure you pour this layer at a lower temp). Now, spray both the hearts and the clear layer generously with rubbing alcohol and place the hearts into the wet soap, spacing them appropriately for hand-cut bars. That's it! Check out Soap Queen's beautiful cold process tutorial of this soap here.

Lip butter is fun, easy, and makes the perfect addition to your Valentine cards. You will need heart lip butter pots, strawberry flavor oil, and cellini red lip safe mica. For a basic recipe, follow these portions and ingredients:

1/4 Beeswax
1/2 Shea butter
1/4 Olive oil

For an 8 oz batch, you would use 2 oz wax, 4 oz butter, and 2 oz oil (by weight). This lends itself to experimentation and personalization with mixing and matching oils. Instead of shea butter, you could use mango butter or avocado butter as a semi-solid oil. For a different liquid oil, try anything from sweet almond to castor oil. The key is to make sure the solids help equal out the liquids so the mixture will be soft and spreadable.

When playing with different colors and flavors, make sure the color you choose is labeled "lip safe" and that you only use Flavor Oils. Fragrance oils are not suitable for lips, though some essential oils such as organic peppermint and spearmint are lip balm safe. Usage rate of flavor oils is 1% to 3% by weight. If you are using a dropper to measure, it is helpful to know that 0.1 oz equals 3 milliliters. Add the flavor oil after all the ingredients are melted and stir thoroughly. Have fun and enjoy passing them out this holiday!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Taking it to the Next Level

Got to hand it to the Bramble Berry team for their expert soaping skills-- they managed to pull off a perfect Otion logo in cold process soap! Granted, this might not have been exactly planned, but still, I'm impressed.

This happy accident turns out to be a result of superheating, which is usually a reaction during saponification caused by the fragrance oil. The temperature gets shot way up and then the stress has to come out somewhere, so the soap bursts and cracks. In this case, they used a downspout and the high temps caused the soap to come out the top. Soap Queen did a great blog post on a coconut milk batch that superheated.

I've been around Anne-Marie when something unexpected happens and instead of being bummed out by it, she grabs her camera and gets really excited. It's great! Takes the stress right out of being attached to something you put so much work into, because after all, you might end up with a wonderful surprise in the end.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Melt-and-Pour Valentine's Soap

Instead of giving chocolates to your love this Valentine's day, give soap! It kinda sounds like handing out toothbrushes on Halloween, but trust me, it's better. This project goes by much quicker than it looks because we are only pouring thin layers, so they harden up fast. You'll end up with a beautiful, complex looking soap that was actually really easy to make. To follow this tutorial, you will need to grab the following items:
Let's get started! First, you have to make some little red hearts to embed into the soap. I used the rubber heart mold and merlot mica for this step. You can scent them or not, since it's not the bulk of the end product, it won't make a difference if you leave them unscented. Let them harden up for about 10 minutes in the freezer.

We are starting with a thin, clear layer on the bottom of your mold which will act as a window to your embed, and it also holds your embed in place. I recommend adding just 1 ml of fragrance per layer. Spray both the layer and the heart generously with rubbing alcohol and place the heart face-down in the clear soap. It is best to do this when clear layer is sticky, but not totally hard.

Let that layer set up (which happens in the amount of time it takes to prepare your next layer), melt more soap and add violaceous violet mica and fuchsia glitter and 1 ml of fragrance. Spray before you pour!

Same idea for the next layer, but use titanium dioxide as the whitening agent to your clear soap. I recommend whitening a clear soap over using an opaque base because sometimes layers don't stick together that well when you use different types of bases. This white layer is going to make everything POP! Don't forget to fragrance and spray.

Finally, use black oxide to color the last layer; it creates a nice contrast and makes your soap look crisp and professional. Notice how thin the layers are.

Take the basic idea of this tutorial and run free with it-- play with different color combinations, fragrances, or even try different embeds. You'll love it!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February Discounts!

It's the month of love and I'm all warm and fuzzy over these great deals. Check out what's been marked down for February:

10% Off

  • Apricot Cybilla fragrance oil
  • Champagne fragrance oil
  • Lovespell fragrance oil
  • Grapefruit essential oil
  • Milky Way Victorian Heart mold

20% Off

  • Baby Rose fragrance oil
  • Guava and Cucumber fragrance oil
  • Mandarin Myrrh fragrance oil
  • Spearmint essential oil
  • Milky Way Cupid with Bow mold (discontinued by manufacturer, get them while supplies last!)
We've been busy working on some really fun Valentine's day soap projects that anyone can do. Look for the post soon! Plus, don't stop with soap this holiday-- there are so many different projects, from bath fizzies to massage oils. Feel free to share your creative ideas. We'd love to see what you've been up to!