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A Soap Maker’s Kitchen – Once upon a time – it was normal.

January 20, 2016

Once upon a time, I bought a small brick ranch house built in the late 60’s for my home. I had no idea what the future would bring.  Most likely, my home will never be featured in a classy decorating magazine or win awards for design. Some women my age are remodeling kitchens with granite counter tops, I lust after stainless carts with wheels.

soap kitchen 123 l

My dining room table is gone, replaced with rolling stainless tables. Baby quilts used to insulate soap are stored in large baskets. Coconut oil is easily handled on re-purposed rolling stools. A new shelf has been added for my distillation equipment that I use for distilling rose geraniums.

soap kitchen 123 e

The chalk board captures my thoughts for the year as well as weekly goals. The tall rolling cart holds clean molds all covered and ready to use.

soap kitchen 123

I have three tables with heating mats. I like these for two reasons:  the night before production day, I measure  the ingredients into plastic buckets. The mats gently melt the solid oils like shea butter and coconut oil into liquid. I use blankets to help insulate the buckets. In the morning, I’m ready to go. The second reason, is after the soap is poured into the molds, I can quick start the reaction that makes the ingredients turn into soap.  The molds are insulated with baby quilts on the mats. The benefit is the soap can be removed from the mold much sooner.  On the right is a shelf for holding stainless steel pots for mixing lye.  Inside is a Pyrex cup for mixing essential oils.  They are covered to stay clean.  I will add one more shelf for other equipment soon.

soap kitchen 123b

This photo shows coconut oil in buckets with the needed tools to open and close them.  Next to the hutch is a whole room HEPA filter  that helps (somewhat) when working with strong essential oils.  To the far left is a tall rolling cart that holds cubes of mostly olive oil and bottles of lye.  The upside down buckets are containers that I like to use for creating the soap.  They are made of HDPE which handles the reaction of soap making very well and yet are very light weight.  My beloved pine hutch was made in the 1800’s and will stay. The combs located on the shelves are used for creating designs in my soap.

 

soap kitchen 123 i

I use a lot of cloths to reduce the use of paper towels. These are washed separately from my personal laundry.

soap kitchen 123 f

Drips are caught with a stainless steel bucket and the spout is kept covered.

soap kitchen 123 g

Soap is beveled here. I injured my wrist and could only use one hand, so this was my solution and it really helps!

soap kitchen 123 h

I have several of these carts.  This one has equipment to cut logs and bars of soap.  The bottom has spare equipment. I use carts to move the soap back and forth to the soap curing room.  They really save my back.

The future may bring a lye tank for storing lye solution and another tank for a master batching of soap, drums of oils instead of 50 lb buckets.  I currently could easy use them up before spoiling.  As I grow, my thoughts will no doubt change.   Right now, I’m in a happy place, and I never wanted to be normal anyway.

Last Chance for local sales for the year!

December 17, 2015

This Saturday will be the last chance for local sales.  Dress warm and enjoy the last market of the year.  I will be back vending this Winter at the Harrisonburg, VA Farmers Market starting Saturday, January 2 from 9 AM to 1 PM. Online sales will continue, but might not arrive for Christmas Day depending on your location.  Thanks so much for all those that have supported Magellan’s Gift™ either with purchases or positive comments!

lavender mint again

Magellan’s Gift™  Handcrafted Lavender Mint Scented Soap

 

 

Sirens' Song scented with lavender, ylang ylang and patchouli

Sirens’ Song – a handcrafted soap scented with lavender, ylang ylang and patchouli.

Lori Curry ~ Magellan’s Gift ~ Adventure & Discovery in Fine Soap

Gearing up for the New Year!

December 16, 2015

This is a little trial for a much larger project of a steam-punk impression mat for my 30 bar soap mold.  This time I’m working with food grade silicone.  It will be one large mat poured at about a quarter of an inch. Next year, I’ve got several really neat projects, so stay tuned.

Lots of bubbles coming your way!

Lori Curry ~ Magellan’s Gift™ ~ Adventure and Discovery in Fine Soap

UPDATE:

So, here is the first of the soap made with handcrafted steam-punk silicone impression mats by Magellan’s Gift™.  Just a start, I’ll be working on improvements for quite awhile.

Handcrafted Soap – This Weeks Holiday Harvest.

December 11, 2015

Artisan Holiday Gift Bags for Soap!

December 4, 2015
Gift bags stamped better a

Noolibird Stamps can be found at Etsy.com

Several new stamps, handcrafted by Nula Shearing of Noolibird, arrived just in time for the Holidays. I’m hoping to add more to my collection next year.  The hand stamped bags fit one bar of soap each and are available on the website.  Local folks can find them at the Harrisonburg, Va Farmers Market for the next three Saturdays.

gift bags 008 better

Stamp design made by Melissa Redd

Tip:  A great way to recycle fake Christmas garland is to make them into gift tags.  This time of year it is easy to find felt tip pins in gold, copper or silver to decorate your tags.

As always may warm bubbles surround you, may the season bring wonder and joy or at least survive it with some grace!

Handcrafted Soap and 3D Printing!

November 23, 2015
3D mat sun 5X5 website

Here Comes the Sun ~ a handcrafted soap with a lemon like scent made with litsea cubeba and yuzu essential oils.

A couple of years ago, I kept hearing about 3D printing; it seemed like a great idea, but not realistic for my business.  My current thoughts have been how to help my soap business, Magellan’s Gift Micro Soap Company, to survive in a highly competitive field.  I needed to work smarter and faster.  The profit margin on a bar of  soap made with great ingredients is low – I have to be able to make a whole lot of bars to have an income.  Soap making is labor intensive. Having an expensive hobby is not an option for me. The goal is to produce artisan bars that can give a great shower experience and leave the skin clean without stripping natural oils.  Also, create different types of soap for different types of people and make it fun with a little attitude. I like to encourage people to use their shower as a chance to clean off the troubles of life and dream of adventure.  All this without practicing medicine (without a licence), witchcraft, hunting mermaids or making miracles!

One of the biggest time wasters in making soap is washing out equipment.  For an example, swirling soap means more containers to wash, especially if you’re trying to be an eco-friendly company and don’t use disposable containers. My hand stamped soaps are just as popular as my swirls, but very time consuming and temperamental. In 2010 I fell in love with impression mats for rolling out fondant cake icing.   It is so easy: just place an impression mat on the bottom of your mold, pour soap, wait a day or two and remove the mold and then peel off the impression mat.  Soda ash that forms on the top of soap (a cosmetic problem) is a non issue, because the bottom becomes the top. Unfortunately silicone impression mats, come in a limited number of patterns for molds my size and I really want custom designs.  The best solution is to make my own custom mats out of silicone, but I’ve got soap to make and not much time to play – perhaps in 2016?

Late last summer I noticed in downtown Harrisonburg VA a 3D printing shop. I just had to check it out. The shop, named Hatch 3D, whose goal is to let people create things they dream up, has many 3D printers and staff to help you out.  And so started several little trials with two 3D printing materials: NinjaFlex and SemiFlex.

 

I started with a tiny mold from Brambleberry.com, perfect for little experimental batches.  3D Hatch printed a little mat made with SemiFlex with a leaf design for the trial.  It worked and stayed in place with very little soap getting beneath the mat.

 

Next, I wanted to try a more flexible material called NinjiFlex.  This time I wanted to pour on to one of my HDPE divider molds made by SoapHutch.  The mold has an existing silicone liner/mat and I wanted to know if the 3D little mats would cling and not get disrupted when I poured the soap.  I poured a swirled batch of soap as pictured and even dragged a chopstick across the little mat and it didn’t budge.

3D printer sun images aaa

Photo courtesy of Hatch 3D

A shot of the production of the little soap mats made by a 3D printer.  Check out their website:  http://www.hatch3dva.com  I truly enjoyed working with their staff.

I had to go with little individual mats because the printers could not print the size of my molds.  This at first seemed to be a problem, but the upside is, if you have a customer that wants a small number of bars with their logo – no problem!   An example is a real estate agent that wants to gift every new home buyer a bar of handcrafted soap with their logo or image.  They may only want a few bars a month, so you can place their design in part of the mold and the rest in your images.

Some possible downsides:

The 3D printing process leaves extra little strings that have to be removed before the mats are ready to be used. This is kind of tedious.

Both the materials I tested – NinjaFlex and SemiFlex aren’t as nice as silicone for ease of removal.  I did have a sticking issue with the recipe I wanted to use. That was easy solved by removing them from the mold and stacking them in the freezer.  I forgot them and easily removed the little mats the next day.

NinjaFlex and SemiFlex are not food grade approved at this time.  They are non toxic and look safe for making soap. I would prefer to have them food grade, but as fast as this field is growing, it will happen.  Here is a link for NinjaFlex   http://www.ninjaflex3d.com/support/using-ninjaflex/technical-specifications/

The big question for me is: will the little individual mat continue to cling to my old silicone mats that line my molds?

As to which is better NinjaFlex or SemiFlex?  Next week, I will be revisiting the SemiFlex in my next pour of my soap called, “Here comes the Sun.”  I’m also planing on working on a spearmint leaf design for my spearmint scented soap.    So, 3D printing impression mats, in my mind, are still a gamble and only time will tell, but I sure love the journey!

May warm bubbles surround you – Lori Curry  Magellan’s Gift™ Adventure and Discovery in Fine Soap

 

 

Dark Forest Scented Handcrafted Soap!

November 5, 2015
Dark Forest scented handcrafted soap!

Magellan’s Gift™ presents – Dark Forest scented handcrafted soap!

“Deep in the forest gypsies chorus by the light of the fire” – this is a fragment of an old campfire song of my childhood. The scent takes me back to camping and hiking memories.

Magellan’s Gift™ Dark Forest Soap is scented with essential oils of Siberian fir needle, black spruce, fir balsam and a touch of vetiver. The essential oil distilled from the roots of vetiver makes the scent darker and a little smokey. Finely ground vanilla bean has been added for a get-clean scrubby effect. If you love hiking, camping like a gypsy or just love the thought of exploring dark forests – this is the bar of soap for you!

Available starting November 7 online and at the Harrisonburg, VA Farmers Market!

Lori Curry ~ Magellan’s Gift™ ~ Adventure & Discovery in Fine Soap!

Honest, winter is coming!

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