Monday, September 22, 2014

The Place I Call Home

I am very fortunate that I get to call Kelowna home.  I live in a beautiful valley in the Okanagan.  We are a city of about 180,000 people and are known for our hot summers as we are also considered a desert.  Kelowna gets a lot of tourists both in the summer and winter.  In the summer, we have golfing, beaches and several local wineries that put on wine tours.  In the winter, we have a couple of ski mountains to choose from.

My husband and I drove up to the top of Knox Mountain to take some pictures and I wanted to take a video to share with you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Do You Need to be Scrubbed?

I have recently started making body scrubs - well, truth be told, I have actually been making them for quite a looooong time.  I could never seem to get them right.  They really are tricky things I tell ya!  Either they are too thick and not enough oil, or they are way too oily.  One batch was so bad that I had just finished trying it on my hands and they were so slicked with oil that I had to wash my hands with soap and water three times (yes, three times) before they felt ok.  Now, I know that is not such a bad thing since, ahem, I am a soapmaker and like to test out my own soap but Yuck!

I gave up trying for awhile and then felt inspired to try again and boy am I glad I did.  I think I have the perfect blend of sugar and oil combined!  My new recipe is just the right amount of oil that leaves your skin very soft and not greasy or oily.  It is wonderful in the shower for a full body scrub or for just using on your hands and feet.  

I hope you enjoy watching the video of me making the Energizing Body Scrub and you can find it and other scents for purchase here.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

If at first you don't succeed, try again....and yet AGAIN!

This months challenge is the Holly Swirl named after Holly from Missouri River Soap who created this swirl technique.  It is also called a swirl within a swirl. The technique looked easy enough and I was really excited to take on this challenge.  I thought is was going to be fairly easy peasy.  Uh huh, well I did two attempts at this soap.

First attempt:

I used a fragrance oil called Juniper Breeze from Bramble Berry that I have never soaped with before.  This is never wise as you don't know what is going to happen and you hope for the best.  I used neon purple for the base colour and wanted to do a neon blue and yellow swirl.  For this batch it wasn't the fragrance oil that was the problem - it was the soaper, aka, me.  I wanted to keep my soap batter fairly thin and I thought it was at the perfect consistency.  Well my blue and yellow swirls turned green and basically turned into green globs in the bars.

When I cut the bars the next day I summed it up that my batter was way too thin and I would try again with a thicker batter.  This is the video and pictures of the first batch.

Second Batch:

Again I decided to use another fragrance oil that I have never used before - Rice Flower & Shea from Bramble Berry.  BIG MISTAKE!!!  My batter basically thickened as soon as I added the FO.  Now what?  Well I ended up spooning and glopping it into my swirl bowl.  As I am doing this I am thinking - how in heck am I going to pour this into the base colour?  Yeah well I ended up spooning my swirled mixture into the base colour that was already in the mold.  Of course it was just getting thicker and thicker.  My swirled colours started mixing together and turning a little brown - nice!  Now having said that, I am actually ok with how the bars turned out overall - considering everything that the poor soap batter went through.

Overall, I know the first batch was too thin and the second batch was way too thick.  I would like to attempt this swirl technique again but I will use a fragrance oil or essential oil that I am familiar with.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Peacock Swirl Challenge

I have decided to participate in a monthly soap challenge put on by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks.  She put on the previous challenge and although it was a little overwhelming because of it being weekly, I still loved it because it really inspired me to do some things that I have seen other soapmakers do and wanted to try, but never actually did it.  The challenge forced me to do it, which is good for me because I am somewhat a bit of a procrastinator.  I work better under pressure and under the gun.

This first challenge is the peacock swirl.  I have seen this technique several times and I oh and ah EVERY single time I see pictures.  I was worried about my soap setting up too quickly (which it did as you will see in the video) and about the tools I had.  

I used my large slab mold and I usually have some issues with this mold as my soap usually comes out really soft.  The mold comes with dividers and I always struggle with releasing the soap from the dividers so I decided not to use them.  I used Ylang Ylang essential oil and coloured it with activated charcoal, neon blue, neon purple, and green chrome oxide.  The colour combination looked awesome in my head but it ended up turning out too dark for my liking.  I think it looks cool, but next time I will do more contrasting colours to really make it "pop".

I used a comb instead of hair roller piks or skewers and I now know that the comb is not a good idea.  I have since purchased the hair piks and will make my own contraption for the next time.

Sorry about the bad pictures, I didn't have a lot of time to edit them.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A brief look into the workshop

I thought I would share this video with you all.  My husband was playing around one time while I was taking pictures of my soaps.  My room is a little messy so please look past that.

I have been attending the Penticton market every Saturday and I LOVE it.  It is such a great, positive atmosphere.  This Friday I will also be starting the Lake Country Farmers Market and will be there every other Friday.  This is where I got my start and I am exciting to be doing it again for a fourth year.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 4 - Leopard Spot Soap

Let me just start out with saying that I was really, really excited about this challenge as one of the cats I own is a Bengal Leopard!  I was quite intrigued about this soap, but was also a little nervous.  It looked fantastic in my head when I was planning it out, but then the soap cutting revealed something totally, completely different.  The whole thing was a fail.  I am disappointed, but it is still usable so I will carry on and attempt the leopard spot soap another time.

I decided to use a citrus mint blend essential oil blend that smelled great....until 24 hours later when I cut it.  It doesn't smell bad, you just can't smell the mint part.  Since I was using essential oils, I wanted to keep my colours natural as well so I used charcoal powder for the black and cocoa powder for the brown.  I wanted to try and keep it to the original leopard colours.  Well as you can see by the pictures, my brown is way, way too dark and completely blends in with the black.  My soap appears just to have black spots - which doesn't look too flattering.

This was the final week of the 2013 Soap Challenge and I want to thank Amy Warden at Great Cakes Soapworks for creating this challenge and look forward to another soaping challenge in the future.  It truly has challenged me to create soaps that I normally would not have done.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 3 - Mica Top

Week 3 is a Mica top challenge.  I have seen many other soapmakers do this and love the look of it.  I think it looks fantastic when there are at least two different colours used but for my first time, I thought I would go with one colour.  I have lots of things to do today, so time is valuable.  

I decided to use Honeysuckle fragrance oil and a hot pink mica.  I wanted to do a swirl throughout the soap and had visions of a very fine swirl.  Well, as most soapmakers experience, what we have in our heads is not exactly what ends up happening!  We have really good intentions but sometimes the soap batter has a mind of its own.  My mixture traced quite quickly and I really had no idea what to expect since I have never worked with this fragrance oil before.  It wasn't bad, just thicker than what I would have wanted, so I made the best of it.  In the end I think I used too much pink colour for the swirl as I find the mica top gets lost with the soap mixture because there is too much pink.  The next time I try this technique (yes, there will be a next time), I will use more than one colour and something contrasting that really "pops".  As you can see by the photos - my "hot pink" mica turned orange.  It still works for Honeysuckle though!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 2 - Elemental Swirl

Welcome back to week 2 of Great Cakes Soapworks Soap Challenge.  This week the challenge was to do an Elemental Swirl.  This challenge made me nervous and excited at the same time.  Nervous because I have never attempted anything like this before and the fact that timing is everything.  I certainly didn't have time to procrastinate.  I was worried that my soap batter was going to thicken way too quickly and that it wouldn't work out.  I used a fragrance oil that I had never soaped with before (which really isn't a good idea when trying something new - especially with swirls).  It worked in my favour, to my relief!  I had to pre-plan everything out.  It took me awhile to decide on which colours to use.  Excited because I have seen this technique before and wanted to try it but too nervous too!  LOL.  So it is a good thing for this challenge, as I probably wouldn't have attempted this on my own.

The process went ok but I am disappointed with the results.  I like how the bottom layer turned out but I am not happy with the top layer.  I think it looks too muddy.  The colours I used didn't do it justice either.  Oh well, I tried, right?  I am not sure I would do this technique again though - only time will tell.  At the end of the challenge I will be posting all the soap challenge photos on my Facebook page.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Soap Challenge 2013: Week 1 - Tiger Stripe

Last week I signed up for a soap challenge.  Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks ( initiated this soap challenge and there are several other soapmakers from around the world participating.  Amy did a soap challenge last year but I missed out and was really disappointed, so I was quite excited that she introduced a new one for 2013.  I was quite thrilled about week 1: Tiger Stripe.  I decided to make two different batches, one using Essential Oils and natural colourants and the other using a fragrance oil and micas.

The first batch I did was the Essential Oil blend with Bergamot, Grapefruit, Mandarin and Wintergreen.  I used Activated Charcoal, Annatto and Dulse for the colours.  I have used Activate Charcoal and Annatto several times and I love the way it mixes and how the colours turn out.  I have never used Dulse before and it didn't mix very with in the oils, but I still think it turned out all right, even if it is a little speckled.

The second batch is Blackberry Spice using mica colours.  I am thrilled with how both these batches turned out and now that I know this isn't all that difficult, I will definitely be making more soap using this technique.  The results are stunning!

Thanks Amy for putting on another challenge.  I look forward to learning new skills and techniques in the coming weeks ahead.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Testing Wine Soap

I decided to try my attempt at wine soap.  I live in the Okanagan Valley in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.  We are considered a desert and we have numerous wineries that produced some top quality wines.  I wanted to test Red Wine, Rose Wine and White Wine for the colour and smell.  I have smelled other wine soaps that have added scent to them, but for this experiment, I wanted to keep it completely natural.

I decided to try several different options with each type of wine.  The first was  letting the soap sit on the counter in the mold, the second was putting the soap in the freezer and the third was Cold Process Oven Process (CPOP).  

I also wanted to see what the differences were with different amounts of wine, and when the wine was added.  In one batch I added 100% of the wine in place of the water.    In another batch I did a 50/50 ratio with 50% wine and 50% water.  The third batch was 50/50 again but I added the wine at trace this time (for this experiment I will refer to this as "added at trace").  Here are the results:

White Wine:
The whitest of the White Wine soap turned out to be pretty much the same, however, the lightest one was when the White Wine was added at trace and put in the freezer.  The darkest one was when the White Wine was added at 100% and CPOP.  Interesting observation though was the 100% wine that was on the counter and freezer both developed ash but the CPOP did not.  Ash also developed on the 50/50 mixture on the freezer and CPOP method.  And as for the wine that was added at trace, ash was only slightly detected on the freezer and CPOP method.

Rose Wine:
The lightest was a combination of the 50/50 mixture for the counter, freezer and CPOP method and when the Rose Wine was added at trace for the counter and freezer methods.  The darkest one was when the Rose Wine was at 100% and CPOP.  I developed ash with the 100% mixture with the counter and freezer method, but not CPOP.  There was a tiny bit of ash on the 50/50 mixture for the counter and freezer method and a bit more on the CPOP.  For the Rose Wine that was added at trace, the ash only showed up on the counter method.

Red Wine:
The lightest was 50/50 mixture for the counter and CPOP method and the freezer method was slightly darker.  The darkest was when the Red Wine was added at 100%, with it being a medium brown colour.  The second darkest was when the Red Wine was added at trace and using the CPOP method.  I had ash when the Red Wine was used at 100% for the counter and freezer method, but not for CPOP method.  I received quite a lot of ash when the Red Wine was the 50/50 mixture in all three methods.  Funny enough, the only ash I had when the Red Wine was added at trace was only a little bit from the freezer method.

I was disappointed that the Wine smell didn't come through the soap at all but I was also expecting this to happen.  I was also bummed that the colour didn't keep.  I am not sure if different varieties of Wine would help or not.  If I am to make Wine soap again in the future, I will add colour and scent.  I also suspect that making Wine soap with the Hot Process (HP) method might also help to retain some of the natural colours, however, I have never made HP soap before so it is only a guess.

If any of you soapers make wine soap, I would love to hear your tips and tricks.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In The Spotlight!!

Here is the link where I have been featured.  This is the first time anyone has ever done an interview with Head 2 Toe so I am extremely excited.  Hope you enjoy it!  I look forward to any feedback you might have.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Well, it has been SEVERAL months now since I wrote a post.  I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas.  I have been trying to get organized into my new space and have trying to play catch up with all the time I have lost.  Also mixing into the equation with all the craft events I was in from the end of October to the beginning of December, of course, didn't help things either!  I have been also trying to update my website and my icraft site  I have learned over the years that there are several things I love to do in my business and there are others that I dread.  Updating websites is one that I dread as it is so time consuming.  My goal for 2013 is to get better at that.  Icraft is going to be doing a feature on Head 2 Toe and I have been trying to come up with different answers to the questions they are asking.  Part of this process was that I had to take pictures of myself while making my products.  My dear husband (who actually is a photographer) graciously offered to take pictures for me and ended up taking about 150 pictures so I have lots to choose from.  

The first picture is from the cut bars of the Energizing Soap from the last Blog post:

Here are some of the pictures that my husband took for the icraft blog post they will be doing on Head 2 Toe:

And here are just some other cut bar photos to enjoy:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Energizing Soap

Energizing soap is probably my most popular soap that I sell, so much so that  I have trouble keeping it in stock!  It is a blend of citrus, including grapefruit, lemon and lime, with hints of fresh cucumber and jasmine, and a touch of pineapple, blackberry and champagne.  I didn't record a video of me making the soap but I am happy I did this video of the swirling on the top as I LOVE the way it turned out.  I used Pink, Purple, Yellow and Orange.  I would have preferred the pink to have stood out more, but I am still happy with it.  The colour is all the way through the bars.  I won't be unmolding it for about a week or so but when I do, I will post the cut bar pictures.  The video doesn't have any sound to it except for music.  Enjoy and let me know what you think of the top.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Ocean Breeze Soap

I am still trying to arrange my Soaping area so I have been very disorganized.  I managed to make a bunch of Christmas Soaps last week but because everything was such a mess, I didn't think I should record videos of those.  Once I am fully set up then the videos will start again.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pictures and videos.