Fresh is Best!

…Of course you wouldn’t know from the frequency of my posting! ūüôā

One more shout out is in order to all our ‘homies’ that stopped by the booth at the Trade Show mother’s day weekend. Initially, we were not planning on attending, but we missed those familiar faces and needed to meet face to face with our faithful clients again (and convert a few newbies too). ¬†Thank you, it was a terrific weekend for us!! ! Here are our youngest fans helping with the booth set up:

So what was popular? We were thrilled with the enthusiasm shown wrt our Northern soap gift boxes! We hunted all over to find the perfect presentation of our soaps that would be used (treasured even)¬†over and over again. They were made just for us by a great company in Vancouver! Everyone warned us how in-demand they will become ¬†around the Christmas season… We have been forewarned! Not the best pics, but you get the idea:

These (along with some individual soaps and lip balms) will now be found in Norman Wells now too! Head over to the Norman Wells Historical Society for a sniff and a look!

Sugar slathers went super quick over the weekend (we.will.assimilate.you). Our pink cream soda sugar scrub sold out so fast, we plan on adding it to our permanent line up! Yayyy for sugary-soft sweetness!

So we have been¬†excruciatingly busy filling post-show orders and beginning to restock those nearly empty curing racks. Oh, and on that note, start planning ahead all you soap junkies. The Crafter will be out of town for the entire month of July and will be unable to fill orders for many weeks. We will nail down the dates soon. So if you know what you’ll need to get through the mid-summer please get you orders in soon or give us a call.

I was most excited to see how many folks picked up our sugar slathers at the show for the first time. There is simply no way to convey how awesome they are on northern skin without simply getting wet and trying it. So, I thought it appropriate to take this moment to remind you to use your wonderful,¬†hand-crafted products (ie not hoarding them to scent a drawer or decorate your bathroom…). Once our soaps come off the curing rack they have reached peak quality and hardness. Bath products do not age like fine cognac. They are more akin to great champagne: ready for consumption once bottled ¬†(learned that on a tour of Korbel cellars in California). ¬†Remember our artisan-crafted product is made from tons of fresh, wonderful oils and butters, most of which have a specific shelf life. I know, it took me a long time to stop ‘saving’ beautiful bath goodies too. But your skin works hard saving you from the elements, and it deserves fresh, luxurious products to care for it. ¬†So go buy some art for the bathroom and we’ll make you some scented sachets for your drawer. Use the good stuff on your skin!

 

 

Pouring into the Weekend….

It’s ‘candling Friday’ here (with some solid shampoo-making thrown in since our personal stash was running low), and we are pouring some soy wax tarts too. But we thought we’d catch up on some photos while the wax comes up to temperature!

You must come and see us at the trade show (I am just going to keep reminding you) so we can introduce you to these gorgeous new soaps! We have certainly had a rash of new soaps lately…. I guess the change in the seasons is kindling our creative fires! Firstly there is ‘ Sweet-Rain ‘, a limited edition early summer bar of decadence!!

These bars have a foundation of fresh goat milk and are loaded with shea butter, cocoa butter, and sweet almond oil. The fragrance is hard to describe,  florals with hints of mango and sage. Just a sweet breath of early summer clean.

And here is our newest and long anticipated (by us, anyway)¬†addition to our regular line up. Each soap the Crafter creates is inspired by a primary factor or created towards a certain end. Sometimes she is seeking a specific feel or lather, a visual style, or to celebrate a theme. ¬†In this case, ‘ 5 O’clock Shadow ‘ was driven primarily by the beyond-heavenly fragrance. If you love ‘Pink Sugar Kisses’ you are going to want your hairy companion to have this…:

This is a warm masculine blend that starts sweet and finishes woodsy and herbal. We cannot do it justice (and find that trying to describe fragrance with words just puts ideas in your head… You should be allowed to come up with your own fragrance vernacular)! All we can say is that we seem to have our nose permanently buried in a bar. Under all that yummy scent is a simple, rich soap with lots of sunflower oil and tussah silk (and a great colour pallet)! This one’s a keeper!

In other crafty-news, the Crafter finally finished binding her dd’s bed quilt just in time to fold away the heavy duvet! It was a terribly simple pattern, but she hadn’t made a quilt in ten years, so she had to ease back into it! ¬†It is designed by Amanda Herring of The Quilted Fish. She has such sweet patterns.¬†¬†It was also chosen to grow with an eight year old for a few years (until she goes goth in her teens at least…).

The Crafter recently finished a weekend quilt class at the Quilter’s Getaway here in town. A great wall hanging which featured crows, but she transformed into ravens (of course). Pictures will come when all the¬†embellishments¬†have been added (beads, buttons and whatnots). Now the sewing machine sits idle for a bit.

Oh, the wax is ready, we’re off to pour. Have a magnificent Friday!!

Shows: Outdoors and In.

Ahhh, the warm weather will be here soon. We know this because the parking lot at the grocery store is chock-a-block with tractor trailers, refrigerators humming away in anticipation of the ice road break up.

Not that is seems near warm enough yet. We thought at least the ‘willow’ ptarmigan would have been long gone, but peering out the window the other day lo and behold look at this happy group lollygagging around the neighborhood:

Just hangin’ with the gang

Munching willow

Check out those snowshoes (or snow’feet’)

But there are some avian¬†harbingers¬†of spring hanging around the feeder too. So there is hope the season will roll over soon….

A pine grosbeak dropped in.

Darn, those redpolls are cute (with attitude)!!

On a seasonal soapy note, we are happy to announce we’ll be attending the Annual Yellowknife Trade show again this year: May 12-13 (the Mother’s Day weekend). We just couldn’t miss catching up with our clients in person (and giving their hairy halves an opportunity to score some great goodies for the Mums in their lives).

To celebrate Mums (and the people who have them), we are releasing several custom soap cakes for just that weekend! ¬†Each is a unique and simple formulation and exquisitely scented with spring-inspired fragrances with Mums in mind. And we love the sweet dahlia mould too. Here is a little preview…:

A truly sumptuous floral:  peony, with tussah silk and sweet almond oil.

This one rocks: lemongrass  with ricebran oil and cocoa butter.

Summer in your hand:  cucumber-mint with coconut milk, soyabean oil and shea butter.

OMG:  deep, dark, dripping cherry with loads of shea butter.

We are having a hard time with the thought of parting with these (without snagging a slice for ourselves), but these soap-cakes are just the right size for gifting (and maybe Mum will share a piece or two)! ¬†So we’ll keep them whole (…for now ¬†ūüôā ¬†).

What else will we bring to the Trade show to share with you? Well, there will be several new soaps coming off our curing shelves in time for the weekend, loads of fun new lip balms, soy candles, wood boxed sets, and a plenty more goodies. Photos to follow….

I think you’d better get to the booth early!

April Snow Showers

We have had a busy week here, what with the new website going live, banding soaps, whipping up gratuitous quantities of sugar slather¬†and getting our last bridal order of the season out the door…. Whew, time for a chocolate-bunny filled weekend breather.

Nevertheless, the Crafter is keeping the soap moulds full and playing with her camera. She wanted to share a couple of shots from this week.

Firstly, despite the fact that this simple olive oil and goat milk loaf is unscented, I find myself constantly grabbing a bar and sniffing it deeply. I can absolutely smell the toasted milk sugars. I just love the scent of pure soap all warm out of the mould. Mmmmmm….

Baby’s Breath

Another cool shot, this time of Cabin Fever in the mould and going through its’ ‘gel’ phase (saponification is an¬†exothermic¬†reaction). The sugars from the pumpkin puree really heat this one up and make the entire kitchen smell like a feast.

¬†Cabin Fever ‘gelling

Since the snow keeps falling into April up here, our thoughts are still captivated by woolly accessories and cuddly colours. So we’ve been playing with our Louet spinning wheel some more! This time spinning up a stunning handpainted roving of merino wool and seacell from one of our favourite fibre goddesses:¬†Miss Babs. ¬†It’s slick and soft and a joy to spin! Check out the colours… They just make me happy!

Spinning it up

The unspun roving

Luckily, we are establishing a symbiotic relationship with an accomplished knitting friend. That way we can just spin and spin and soap and spin….

Go now. Indulge yourself and seek out some¬†handmade¬†chocolate nibblies from someone local this weekend (got our ‘Chocolatier‘ goodies stashed away already)! You are so worth it! (Share if you must, hoard if you can!!) Happy Easter!

Bye Bye Winter, Hello Website!

After a couple weeks of slogging (and months of research and planning), our new website and store are up and running! Since we make better soap-makers than web-masters, we hope you’ll browse the site and let us know if you run into any snags.

First off, some soap business: fresh off the curing racks (and soon to be found at Sutherland’s’ downtown) is our¬†luscious, berry-laced¬†¬†‘Sticky, Prickly & Berry Tricky’. ¬†This bar is laced with tussah silk and generous amounts of grapeseed and soya bean oil, and gives us the same thrill as stumbling upon an untouched berry patch.

 

Mmmmm, berries and cream…

Also to be found on Sutherland’s shelves are our brand new solid shampoo and conditioners: ‘Rock Solid’. We have been testing and formulating these for over 8 months. These are not soap. The ph of soap is not at all compatible with your hair’s needs. We use appropriately gentle surfactants (no SLS) and lots of glorious butters and proteins that hair loves. For those who have never tried one, solid shampoos (and conditioners) are simply rubbed directly on hair and worked into a lather (you know, like…, shampoo). These will last at least as long as an 8-12 oz bottle would (possibly longer depending¬†on your personal usage rate), are so easy to travel with (particularly through airport screening), and avoid the use of plastic bottles. They do need to dry out between uses like a bar of soap would. The fragrances are divine too!

     

solid shampoo

On another note, we hope you had the chance to get down to the Long John Jamboree last weekend! What an outstanding job the organizers and volunteers did! The Crafter and her progeny had the most stupendous time and we know that this festival will become an integral part of our Yellowknife winter culture. In future, we are planning a gallery on the website featuring our photos of our ‘Knife Life, but for now here are some shots of the festival, enjoy!

Gratuitous Soapy Shots (and a carpentry project)

Let me show off a few scrumptious shots, some new, some older!

We had the most wonderful husband order a custom soap for his blushing bride over the Christmas season. We just have to share now that the gift has been given. It is such a thrill to concoct a custom soap for somebody special!

 

Full of oodles of Godiva chocolate and scented with chocolate and mint. It has all the punch of  a decadent ganache without the caloric content! What a sweet gift!

And why not have a great shot of all those soap balls needed for our ever-so-popular ¬†‘The Monkey Farts‘. The Crafter had been rolling these for while when she realized the balls were organizing themselves into a pattern, and she couldn’t resist getting off a few photos.

Soap balls just make me smile.

Here is another gratuitous shot: ‘Where the Northern Folk Rock‘ just made and in-the-mould. Non-assuming on¬†initial¬†inspection, maybe. But an insane amount of rice-bran oil and calendula and a mouth-watering infusion of patchouli and oakmoss make for such a rich yummy lather. It’s a bar we just keep coming back to: earthy and warm.

They’ll be coming off the curing racks in another 3 weeks

On an entirely different note, the Crafter forgot to share her latest build. She finally got busy in December constructing her six year old’s loft bed (she’d been promising him one for eight months). The lumber had been cut for a few months, but 3 concerted days of effort ensured it was finally assembled, sanded and painted. That was one happy kid! Again, the plans came from Ana White’s amazing website. Trust me, if we can do this, so can you:

Loft beds just make a small room seem…¬†roomier!

the Scent of Spring…

The seasons must be a’changin’! ¬†The kids are underfoot as two weeks of March break gets underway. The redpolls are voraciously attacking the feeder. And, some distinctly fresh spring soaps are making their way off the curing rack!

Firstly, our daily visitors:

the common redpoll (Carduelis flammea)

Now for two new soaps being released: ‘Hardiness Zone Zero‘ pays¬†homage¬†to the undaunted northern gardeners who can coax life from the thinnest of soils in the shortest of growing seasons. This is one they can wash up with or just sniff until their own crops come in!

Poppy seeds and cornmeal give a gentle scrubbiness while tomato paste and a good dose of soybean oil and shea butter kindly cleanse skin. The fragrance is all ‚ÄėTuscan‚Äô garden ¬†(ie oodles of tomato leaf and basil…, like crushing the fresh leaves in your hand). This one is a keeper all year ’round!

Our second new release is ‘Spring Break Up‘ (no, not of the boyfriend variety). This is a limited edition salt bar that is reminds me of opening the window to a brisk Great Slave breeze coming off the melting ice (and that is a real chunk of glacial ice from the far North behind the soaps)!

Jojoba and apricot oils combine with loads of sea salt to soften skin and prepare it for short sleeves and spring sunshine. We are big fans of salt bars as they can really soften skin without drying it out. This is one incredibly fresh bar well suited to the season (and washing away the hard work of spring cleaning).

We are finally getting around to listing our very popular ‘Sweet Sugar Kisses soap bar (formerly known as ‘devil’s in the dimples’). The Crafter has to work hard to keep this one from turning a dark brown colour. She may, down the road give in to the brown, but for now those sweet sugary-warm bars will stay pale:

 

An interesting soapy fact: many (if not most) delectable fragrances contain vanilla or vanillin (like great baking scents, sandalwoods, perfume dupes and other rich blends). This will turn artisan soaps any shade from beige to deep dark chocolate depending on the concentration. We can sometimes wrestle control over the process with stabilizing fragrances, but not always with great success. So don’t be turned off by brown soap…. Smell first, wash next, then celebrate the browns!!

Family, Fabric and Formulation

To begin with, most heartfelt thank you to all our fabulous clients who just kept coming back for more soapy-gifts right through the New Year. Though the Crafter was terribly behind on her own shopping she was tickled pink to help everyone with their gift-giving.

And so we are well launched into a new year. Despite high hopes of spending the first six weeks of 2012 elbow-deep in formulating and playing with some yummy new ingredients, the Crafter took some unplanned time-outs. Firstly, a need to answer the call of family business sent her all the way to Niagara Falls for a week and half where it was a balmy six degrees above zero and rainy!! As a bonus, she got to spend plenty of time with her lovely sister-in-law and teeny-tiny new neice!

pure ‘girly’ cuteness

Zip forward a few weeks, the Crafter is finishing up a new quilting project and some taggie blankets when she runs her sewing machine needle right through her index finger (where it promptly snaps off in the bone)! A little surgery and a lot of Tylenol later, and she has pretty much stopped whinging and gotten back to soaping! Yes, OUCH!  Enjoy the xray:

…you can even see the eye of the needle!

Fortunately, the sewing project got finished (damaged finger and all). The Crafter has since brought her Louet spinning wheel out of retirement to pass some time in the evenings. It is such a rewarding, tactile activity…, and ohhh, the lovely fibres! No idea as to what the finished yarn will be used for: the Crafter actually dislikes knitting intensly. She needs some friends who knit, I think.

merino (80%) and tussah silk top (20%)… pink and yummy

So now we are back in the game and finally ready to start rolling out the new products we have been testing and tweaking for months. We will introduce them to you here on the blog as they get photographed and are ready for release.

First out of the pot, let me present to you our custom line of pure soy candles: ¬† K√≥¬† ¬†(the¬†Slavey word for ‘fire’). These are premium soy container candles in recycled glass vessels, re-purposed for us by ‘OldTown Glassworks.’

Our first releases are ‘houseboat deck party‘ (a combination of citrus and patchouli), ‘midsummer feast‘ (ripe satsuma guava fruit), and ‘trapper’s kitchen‘ (unbelievably scrumptious¬†marshmallow¬†and hazelnut sugar).¬†The wax is left uncoloured and they are fragranced with superior quality oils. Hot and cold throw is outstanding and burn time runs 140+ hrs. We are simply tickled with these candles and know they will develop a loyal following among candle¬†connoisseurs (and the hand-cut wood caps make wonderful coasters too)! Look for them on the website soon.