Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

Air plant

Have you ever seen an air plant? I’ve seen them at different flea markets and on Etsy and I finally decided to buy one for myself. Air plants, or epiphytes, are plants that grow on other objects. They don’t need soil to grow and they gain their water and nutrients from the air. If I don’t kill it first (I have little luck with indoor plants) my air plant will flower and then produce “pups,” which are little offshoots that can be removed and grown as a separate plant. Air plants typically grow in heavily shaded rain forest environments so they are perfect for houses that don’t get a light of light. I’m excited to see what this little plant will do in the next few months!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

  • Easy melt and pour polar bear soap tutorial – Melt and pour soap was my starting point in the world of soap making and I still love the versatility it offers. This easy to make soap from Soap Deli News would make a great stocking stuffer for a nature-loving child!
  • Cool yule peppermint loaf – This DIY from The Soap Queen is a bit more advanced. I’ve made this design and it’s a lot of fun to do. It looks and smells amazing!
  • Sea glass – This DIY from Marte Ravn Tovik couldn’t be easier and the results are so pretty! Wrap these up in a nice cellophane bag, tied with a pretty bow and you have a cute gift for your beach-loving friends.

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

  • Take a cute break – Check out a gorgeous Shar Pei and his cat posing in the most adorable ways. The pictures are guaranteed to make you smile at least once.
  • Extreme waste reduction – Is this woman for real? Less than a jar of trash in a year? What does she do with her worn out underwear?
  • 11 problems music can solve – And now I know how to get those kids off my lawn!

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Have you thought about making your own soap? A great place to start is with melt and pour soaps, which are pre-made soap bases that you melt in your microwave and then pour into a mold. This type of soap is safe and easy to personalize with scent, color and molds. Sometimes a batch doesn’t go as planned but melt and pour soap is very forgiving and there are ways to salvage a failed batch. I’ve messed up more batches than I like to admit but when things go right, it’s very rewarding! Why not give it a try?

Christine’s big (soap) adventure: Episode 1

Editor’s note: To celebrate Emmet Street Creations’ first anniversary, we’re reposting the series Christine wrote detailing her journey to bring Emmet Street Creations to life. Enjoy!

A few years ago, if you told me I would be starting up a soap making business, I would have laughed at you.

It all started with a Christmastime lunch date with three of my girlfriends. I knew this was a perfect time to give them a token of my affection—something I don’t do often enough. But I had no idea what type of gift to give them, and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend.

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of making gifts by hand, so I started to poke around the internet for ideas. That’s when I stumbled upon this article on craft maven Martha Stewart’s website about making glycerin—also referred to as melt and pour—soap.

One of my early melt and pour soap creations.One of my early melt and pour soap creations.

“Wow! How beautiful and easy,” I thought. So, I carted myself off to my local craft store and stocked up on melt and pour soap base, colorants, scents and molds. I congratulated myself on how much money I would save on my gift giving because I planned to make soap for everyone I knew.

My friends weren’t the only ones who got a gift that Christmas

During that time, some serious life stuff was happening.

I was dealing with the declining health of my mother and living in a constant loop of doctor’s appointments and errand running. I was in a state of constant worry over every detail of her life: Is she living in the best place? Is she eating enough? Are these medications right for her? Am I doing enough for her? Is she in pain or angry or scared or lonely? In addition to the mom worries, my significant other, Matt, was out of work. I was the only one bringing in a paycheck , so money was tight. Needless to say, when my thoughts weren’t on my mother, they were on Matt, money and bills.

But, one Saturday in December, I decided to spend the day focusing on nothing but turning those blocks of soap base into beautiful creations for my friends and family. It was a welcome distraction…

Salvaging a failed batch of handcrafted soap

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I make really ugly soap. I don’t do it intentionally, believe me. I have an idea in my head and it seems like a good idea until I start to pour the soap.

Check out my latest failure:

I want to look away but I can’t.

I was going for a spring inspired honeysuckle scented confetti soap with cute flowers on the top. My original plan was to use a white, shea butter base as a background, which would have really made the colors pop.

At the last minute, I diverted from the plan when a pretty light blue mica caught my eye. I thought that mica would look great in clear glycerin. Not only did it not look at all like I thought it would, I had a big problem with air bubbles and the pink flowers all but disappeared.

It looked so much better in my head.

Feeling dejected, I set this soap aside for a few weeks while I focused on other creations. But, the failed batch didn’t leave my mind; I needed to salvage it somehow. The loaf was four pounds of melt and pour soap and I didn’t want it to go to waste.

So, when I had a little time in my schedule, I broke out the ugly soap and formed a plan. I decided to chop it into tiny pieces and embed those pieces into a new loaf, this time using the white shea butter base I had originally planned to use.

I filled the bottom of my loaf mold with the cut up pieces and filled the loaf half way up with the shea butter base.

DSC01714

After that layer formed a thick skin, I poured the other half of the white base and added a tiny bit of left over pink glycerin soap to give the top a slight blush. I used a spoon to move the top layer around as the soap cooled to get the texture. I’m pretty happy with the new design and the soaps smell lovely.

This is what I meant to do all along. Yeah, that’s right.
In case you were wondering, I did try my original floral design again. The second attempt was more successful (it really is true that you learn from your mistakes!), but that’s a blog post for another day.
This pretty shea butter and glycerin soap is now available in the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store. Don’t make the mistake of waiting to add this soap to your collection… this product is a limited edition!

Christine’s big (soap) adventure: Episode 1

A few years ago, if you told me I would be starting up a soap making business, I would have laughed at you.

It all started with a Christmastime lunch date with three of my girlfriends. I knew this was a perfect time to give them a token of my affection—something I don’t do often enough. But I had no idea what type of gift to give them, and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend.

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of making gifts by hand, so I started to poke around the internet for ideas. That’s when I stumbled upon this article on craft maven Martha Stewart’s website about making glycerin—also referred to as melt and pour—soap.

One of my early melt and pour soap creations.One of my early melt and pour soap creations.

“Wow! How beautiful and easy,” I thought. So, I carted myself off to my local craft store and stocked up on melt and pour soap base, colorants, scents and molds. I congratulated myself on how much money I would save on my gift giving because I planned to make soap for everyone I knew.

My friends weren’t the only ones who got a gift that Christmas

During that time, some serious life stuff was happening.

I was dealing with the declining health of my mother and living in a constant loop of doctor’s appointments and errand running. I was in a state of constant worry over every detail of her life: Is she living in the best place? Is she eating enough? Are these medications right for her? Am I doing enough for her? Is she in pain or angry or scared or lonely? In addition to the mom worries, my significant other, Matt, was out of work. I was the only one bringing in a paycheck , so money was tight. Needless to say, when my thoughts weren’t on my mother, they were on Matt, money and bills.

But, one Saturday in December, I decided to spend the day focusing on nothing but turning those blocks of soap base into beautiful creations for my friends and family. It was a welcome distraction…