Sunday, 28 December 2008

Soap Mould from Germany

Corrie of Lomond Soaps (see blog list) arranged the purchase of some of these partitioned moulds from Germany so I tried a batch of HP Castille.

I put my soap into the mould end of the afternoon and demoulded about 10.30pm (went out to eat with Child and S in Shotton on (the unroyal) Deeside.

I used 1300 oils (olive with bit of coconut for Castille) but will have to arrange crockpot (5.5ltre) the other way round next time as I couldn't lift it to pour the way it was and had to use a ladle - so despite banging a few times the batter didn't level completely.

When I pushed the dividers down the edges of the soaps curved downwards - so they've not sunk in the middle at all.

De-moulding was no problem 'cos it's cold in the utility and I just pushed the soaps down and out.

Parchment had wrinkled on the base - I'll cut a piece of teflon oven liner to fit before next lot. The tops of these will have to be planed but if I'm making a scrub soap I'll sprinkle a layer of oatmeal or whatever on the top.

On second thoughts perhaps I won't plane the tops - it's quite a nice texture and there's a potential here for swirling (my HP soap batter is quite fluid as I add Sodium Lactate at trace.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Thursday, 18 December 2008

I'd had an enquiry about a felted soap to give to an Irish girl (in the end the buyer opted for Midwinter and Lemon, Glycerine and Honey) so I set out to devise a fragrance and name.

I decided to base the fragrance on Bog Myrtle (checked out where it grew in Ireland) and thought of Peat Bog Fairy (after the folk group - until I checked out Peat Bog Fairies and discovered they came from Skye!).

Still on the Fairy theme I decided on something to do with the Sidhe (pronounced Shee) the Fair Folk of ancient Ireland who retreated into a differnet dimension and inhabit the green mounds.

Ard na Sidhe is Mound of the Fair Folk - the soap has silk, green clay and Bog Myrtle EO.

Bog Myrtle has a long standing reputation as an insect repellant and recent studies have shown it to be effective in treating acne.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Face the Morning Scrub

This is one of the scrubs I mentioned a few posts down; it's a finely textured scrub which testers said works well on the face.

With the ultrafine oatmeal and jojoba it will also work as a masque in addition to being a moisturising scrub, making it a 3-in-1 treatment.

It's likely to be a Winter only product as, because it does not have butters in the ingredients, it will separate at warm temperatures - can't post it in warm weather.

It will be onsite in January as part of a range for perking up the skin after the Yuletide indulgences.

Monday, 8 December 2008

A Surprise Order

I had a number of orders for Corn Dollies during August to October but an order for this one plopped into my mailbox on Friday night - I suppose it's going to someone for a Yule/Christmas present.

It's about 26 inches from top to bottom and the problem with posting the larger dollies is finding a box to fit. Fortunately my last order from Gracefruit had been sent in a box which was just the right size - so I've just posted it off with reused space-filler stuff and fingers crossed it arrives safely amongst all the Christmas post.

I used 200 or so straws - so I'll post the cut off ears to Elizabeth at Gracefruit for her hens!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

My Soaps Aren't Natural and They're Full of Chemicals

I don't harvest them from bushes in my garden - there are plants which are "natural soaps" in that they contain saponins (chemicals of course, like the rest of the plant); plants like Soapwort, which is still used to wash some old and delicate fabrics.

But a bar of soap can't be "natural" as it is formed by a chemical (re)action between lye and fats. Lye itself isn't natural either, the sodium hydroxide used in solid soaps is usually formed from brine by electrolysis and is often a by product from the manufacture of hydrochloric acid.

So don't let anyone tell you their soap is "natural".

Nor can it be "chemical-free" - think about it!

Everything is composed of chemicals, some are good and some are bad.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

More Moisturising Scrubs

Today I posted off samples of three new scrubs to willing human guinea pigs - and then realised that I hadn't taken any photos!

So until I make some more here are the descriptions listing some of the ingredients:

A salt scrub for vigorous scrubbing containing a mix of salts and spicey EOs. Going by reports on bathsalts of a similar mix this should be a goodly scrub to use in the bath at the end of a hard day.

It will contain:
All sorts of salts including Himalayan Black Salt
Coconut oil
Kokum butter
Black Seed oil
Blend of Spice EOs

Hey Mango!
A cornmeal scrub for use on most parts of the body and limbs; not as hard as Karakorum it will contain:

Mango butter
Mango powder
Papaya seed oil
Sunflower oil
Mango and Lime natural essence

Face the Morning
A caster sugar and ultrafine oatmeal scrub with ground Cardamon and Grapefruit EO (OK on my face so will have to see what the testers say).

It will also contain:
Babassu oil
Grapeseed oil
and one or two other ingredients.

Another problem was that my sense of smell hasn't properly returned following a cold so I'll have to see what the guinea pigs report on the fragrances.

All fingers crossed for the next few days!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Body Scrubs

I've recently had certification for oil/butterbased Cleansers and Conditioners (rinse-off); I thought my Fruity Scrublets where pushing the boundaries of my salts/oatmeal based Infusions for Bath or Shower a bit far.

This is Raspberry & Coconut Scrub - it has raspberry powder, fine dessicated coconut and fine demarara sugar as the scrub with coconut oil, babassu oil and raspberry seed oil - I may add raspberry and coconut essences (don't use FOs) depending on what the testers report back after trying out samples.

The PET kilner style jars aren't cheap - but neither are most of the ingredients so I don't think deli-pots would suit the image.

So now I'm considering going for SA on leave-on Balms and Butters (but not creams and lotions despite some people's efforts to persuade me - I even had a couple of samples of emulsifiers popped in with an order for butters and oils!)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Felted Soap

Last week I decided to see how my bars (made in Gracefruit's excellent mould) of Hot Process soap stand up to being covered with felt and this is the one I made.

I'm quite pleased with the result.

Felted soap gives you a washcloth and soap all in one; it floats in the bath and is easier for people with a weak grip to manage. It does like to have a well draining soap dish (I've seen some US felted soaps with felt hanging loops which have not been sewn on - I haven't yet worked out the way to do this.

If you're comfortable with the way wool fibres behave when felting and want to have a go there's an excellent tutorial on this soap and candle making site.

His term the Wet Cat Stage - is very apt - the wool does go a bit willd before it settles down to shrink!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Felt Pots From a Workshop Afternoon

The pots in the pic below were made in an afternoon workshop by people who had never made felt before - so there's no reason why you can't make a goodly pot on your first attempt!

(the dark olive one in the centre which was the finished example I took to show them what they were making).

They're still wet and stuffed with a couple of thin binbags.

The blue one shows the size of the circle which was cut out and how much bigger the aperture is after the shrinking down of the felt.

The one which has a hairy look is made from a selection of natural fleece fibres, some of which need more rubbing to felt down.

(If you decide to have a go and have problems send me an email with a pic and I'll do my best to help)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Felt Bowl Tutorial

A few years ago (before I retired) I worked out a method of making little felt pots like these. You can download a zip file of pdf files from the title link.

The tutorial was initially intended for Support Workers working with adults with learning difficulties so needed to have a lot of detail, it's been successful with a number of groups - if you download it do read the intro file first.

There's more of my felt stuff on my website here.

Spiced Bath Buns

Bath Buns seemed like a good idea and I found this info on the Bath city website:

The invention of the Bath bun has been attributed to Dr. Oliver whose patients loved them so much that their waistlines expanded at an alarming rate so they were quickly replaced with the savoury Bath Oliver biscuit ... The buns were originally a brioche or rich egg and butter dough topped with crushed caraway seed comfits. Today's Bath bun is made from a sweet yeast dough and is sprinkled with crushed sugar after baking and often has a sugar lump in the centre of the bun.

Didn't fancy sugar in a bathmelt so I used Himalayan Pink or Atlantic salts, depending on the colour of the bun. I also like bath melts to have some fizz - it disperses the butters and oils better IMHO.

This one is Spiced Orange, it has orange and spice essential oils with a clove stuck in the centre.

Grapefruit & Cardamon - self descriptive really.

When I made the first batch for testers to try out I used a large serving spoon to shape the mixture. The feedback told me that the fragrance and dispersal was great - but they were too big!

Luckily I went to a Food Fair the same week and found a Pampered Chef stand - there was a diddy traditional style icecream scoop and it's just the right size to make these buns.

Bath Meringues

I really ought to get down to adding pics of stuff which I make so here are some of my Bath Goodies. I was playing around with oils, butters and an icing pump when it struck me that bath bombs could look like meringues

This is
Tess - a Bath Meringue (two halves of Bath Bomb sandwiched with fizzing buttercream melt) - the fragrance milky and creamy with a tiny hint of vanilla. You'll find her at the webpage linked in the post title

I have some lovely raw Cocoa Butter with bits of really dark cocoa solids in it so choccie meringues are in the pipeline (not sure about putting cocoa powder in the bath bomb mix though - could leave a rather mucky tideline on the bath sides)

Friday, 20 June 2008

Fovant Badges

There are quite a few figures cut into the chalk hills in the Downs area, these wre a bit different from the usual.

There's a brief explanation at the viewing point and the website is here.

Cross-stich Pattern from Flower Pic

Now and again I do a bit of counted cross-stitch work - providing I have someone to give it to.

I don't have a patterning making prog but use image editing software.

It doesn't matter if the image is not absolutely sharply focussed - I sharpen a little and adjust the contrast and then posterise which flattens out the colours - this was 100% posterisation at a depth of 8 pixels.

The next stage is to pixelise the pic.

This one is in blocks of 8 pixels - when I want to create the embroidery I'll printout at A4 (regardless of the size of the canvas) so that I can mark the squares with a fine point pen as a colour guide.

Holiday Disasters at Breamore

The day we went to Breamore proved to be quite expensive for Jones - not because of the entrance charges but because of the accident he had in the museum.

The museum has some very interesting Rural Life displays but the machinery section in particular would seem to be suffering from lack of funding - or people to help; most of the exhibits could do with at least a wipe over with and oily rag, like this tractor.

Jones manage to throw his Nikon SLR camera, with big lens attached, at it when he was getting his digital camera out of the bag. I didn't see what happened but he'd put the Nikon on the tractor next to it and the camera strated to fall - he tried to catch it, missed but knocked it onto the wheel of the tractor in the pic damaging the camera and the lens! (don't know why he didn't put the camera down on the floor in the first place).

The part of the museum which houses replica shops and country businesses is in better condition, this pic of the clockmaker's is a bit out of focus 'cos I was taking it through the glass window.

It gets a bit depressing though when you see things in a museum which were commonplace when you were were a kid!!

You probably aren't very interested in sacks - but the Hire Sack system was a good example of fairly intensive recycling.

The hiring company had depots dotted around the area which it serviced and farmers would arrange for the hire of sacks at harvest/threshing time and collect them from a depot. Sometimes there were sacks from more than one hire firm and quite often there would be sacks with darns and patches.

When the sacks of corn (or whatever) were sold to the merchant the sacks were then returned to the relevant depot by the merchant (or collected by the hire company).

This day was showery - but we missed a showere while we were in the museum then went on up to the house (sorry no pic) but didn't go in as entry was by conducted tours - this was because the family live in the house and nothing is roped off. The problem with conducted tours is that there isn't always time to look at things properly and people can get in the way.

We did go into the grounds and found a pretty lilypond - round and formal with a fountain.

This was were I had my "disaster" - I wanted a closer pic of the flower on the left taken from directly above. When I'm using the camera I remove my specs and hook one leg through the button opening in my top.

I leant further over and the specs fell into the pond!

Fortunately the water was fairly clear and I could see the specs close to the edge. Luckily I have long arms and was just able to reach them.

Weather was still looking a bit dodgy so we scooted off to Salisbury to find a camera shop as Jones wanted to have a n SLR when he visited the Tank museum. He found a secondhand model very similar to the one he threw at the tractor (and at half the price of those I checked on ebay when we arrived home!).

There was no manual with it so he had a problem saving his preferred settings and had to reset every time - fortunately I found a downloadable manual on the web the other night and printed it off for him.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

More Hols - Bicton Park (Devon)

(click on the photos to see a larger image)

One day we took a trip over to Devon to see what Bicton Park had to offer - we were particularly interested in the Rural Museum and the Rose Garden; the museum was pretty good (can put some of Jones' pics up if anyone really wants to see them) but the rose garden was just a border of David Austen roses - I was expecting some of the older varieties to be there.

The grounds were beautiful though and we took a ride on the little train through the woodland area where there was a goodly number of Champion Trees (hadn't come across this classification before - apparently they're the best example of the type in the UK). Too much vibration on the train for taking pics though.

After disembarking we found the museum and I was out before Jones and found the Camelia and the late Rhodie then walking through a wooded part I came across a mimosa tree - not the bright yellow of the mimosa you find in florists' shops though - and it smelt just like Helen's mimosa wax!

After the disappointing rose garden I was feeling particularly hot (especially my feet - would have loved to paddle in the pond) so I wandered up to the tearooms for an ice cream (Purbeck Icecream - delicious stuff) while Jones went into the tropical house. The pic is a Prickly Pear in flower.

One of the pigeons decided it was time for a cool bath - then another came to shower under his/her armpit.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Part 1 of Hols 2008

Holiday pics from Dorset (for the Fresholettes who said they wanted to see them); we stayed in
The Spyway Inn Askerswell - well away from the main road but great food.

I'll spare you all Jones' steam, plane and tractor pics (except for one which is relevant re why I was googling and printing the other night - acksherley it will be in Part2 or even Part3).

Travelling down we took a detour into Wiltshire to see a steam and vintage rally then into Dorset via Shaftesbury - first pic is of a street in Shaftesbury which is supposed to be really picturesque - reckon I've seen better.

The second pic is of
Larmer Tree Victorian Pleasure Gardens - lovely place to wander around and on the same day we went flying a kite up by the Hardy monument (3rd pic) which looks as though they forgot to put something on the top when it was built. Long views out to sea with Portland Bill in the far distance.

The Swannery at
Abbotsbury is a lovely place to visit - but quite pricey, even with OAP concessions!! Loads of Swans with the ubiquitous Canada geese and quite a few coots. I tried to get a pic of a cygnet upended - but s/he kept bobbing back too quickly. The composite pic is made of some I took of a baby coot who was swimming round in circles after having been left behind by the others.

I've been told that I ought to have a blog - so this is a start, it's bound to look different once I've had a long look at how to customise the layout.

About the name - Briallen is not a combination of names (e.g. Brian and Ellen) it's Welsh for Primrose, which was my nickname many years ago at secondary school. Putting Blog in front of the name means that in Welsh it reads as Briallen's Blog.