RAISING THE BARS
Long ago there was only Ivory and Dove. Then along came totally transparent Pears as the soap de jour. Soothing olive oil followed…then exotic shea or was it just jojoba? Not sure. Anyway, I think it’s fair to say…
THEY DON’T MAKE SOAP LIKE THEY USED TO
It’s much, much better now and the choices are immense. From goat’s milk and honey to hemp and everything else in between. Some have dried flowers, essential oils and come with fancy names and really different funny combinations you would never ever dream of. They can be pricey too. A single bar of soap can cost upwards of $15. I think the most I paid for a bar I loved was about $12 and I thought it was outrageous and didn’t use it for the longest time. Of course I used soap but just not that particular bar. It was meant to be saved for a special occasion shower I guess. It looked so pretty just sitting by the tub and I didn’t want to disturb the design. But eventually it got washed up and I’ve never looked back on using regular soap since (but I don’t even know if there is such a thing anymore).
I wanted to learn how to make soap from scratch not as a way to save money (actually cost me a small fortune to buy all the stuff to make it) but to create signature varieties and fragrances. In the same vein that I tried making candles, but that was not my passion. My kitchen became a lab for a while. In turn I became obsessed with finding molds to shape them in the way of starfish, shells, the cameo girl (I was really excited when I found that one), you name it. Then I became obsessed with a really clean simple but elegant square although those had to have dried flowers like lavender or roses and you had to either see them or they were a surprise. Sometimes not the best surprise because you had to clean up the mess after – but they were pretty
messy. It was fun and creative and they made good gifts as part of a package for a while. I would personalize many, it was a lot of work but a clean (ha) rewarding hobby. I still make soap on occasion.
Now I feel outdone by all the unbelievable assortments you can find in almost any drugstore. I make them for myself and a few friends who appreciate handmade
works of art things. I never intended to rent a table at a craft fair to sell them. I enjoy the process of making something from scratch the same way I once made a rag doll (not quite raggedy ann but she was soft and cuddly like her), photo albums (no one needs them anymore), a beautiful book for scribbling your thoughts that was bound with Japanese rice paper and tied together with ribbon (for a gift but now everyone uses their IPad or tablet and even phones come with pens) and all those dried flower arrangements (Instead of buying them already dried, I hung fresh flowers upside down in a pantry room for however long it took them to dry, but over time they gather dust and I have allergies).
But I still have a curiousity about how to make something from nothing. Although, it does not extend to anything too technical because I can’t even turn on a barbeque (I always let the guy handle it). And it does not extend to making a straw hat out of banana leaves that I never intended to wear or weaving another little wicker basket, or tye-dying anything or hand painting bathing suit cover ups and wraps (from having free time on my hands in Jamaica). I loved making the clay doll with fruit basket on her head but it was very detailed and kind of knick knacky.
I took a sewing workshop once with a topnotch instructor because I wanted to make the DVF “wrap dress.” I thought ahhh, it looks so simple it will be a breeze. Not so. I did with some trial and error end up choosing a pattern and satin fabric (printed red & black design) and made the darn dress just to prove to myself that I could. I even wore it once. I have much more respect for Diane Von Furstenburg and her so very simple little design that got her on the cover of Time and is still being sold and others are copying it. I wanted to do just that.
Of late I’ve created a signature scent eau du parfum just for myself (selfish me) because scent is personal and I am so curious how they make Chanel No 5 (or anything remotely close to that). Now that is something intriguing to me – to learn to work all the right notes and combinations. It’s something of a science really (they never tell you their secret, they always leave something out on purpose). That’s why I’ve decided not to publish or share a few special recipes. Things that should remain a family secret, just because. Not to be a complete open book and retain a tiny bit of mystery…which is lacking.
But what you can never do, try as you may…
…you can never recreate an original masterpiece…be it a dress, a painting, a perfume or even a great bar of soap! Yes, getting back to soap now…
Things of beauty right? And the names! Good clean fun.
What about you? Have you tried making soap or anything else kind of crafty or crazy?
Photos: d. king