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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Creating 2016: My Plan For Making This Year Mine

Welcome to the New Year, to a new beginning, to a worldwide chance to regroup and restart. Welcome to 2016. My 2016.

My 2016? Yes. MY 2016. I'll first tell you about the past, and then you'll see what I mean.

I took the leap and turned my soap making hobby into a full time business with literally just a handful of cheap small molds (which at that point I had nearly already used to death), kitchen tools purchased at second hand stores, the encouragement of my husband, and my desire to create. After several restless nights and a (very) rough business outline scribbled on scrap paper, I knew I only had one shot at this.

[caption id="attachment_1261" align="aligncenter" width="300"]PHOTO_1343334836126 Some of my early soaps, when I was making them eight bars at a time.[/caption]

I knew I had to learn and grow and perfect my craft but I didn't know how... soap making - real soap making - is an incredibly old art but also an incredibly closely guarded skill that isn't shared loosely. You can learn the basic steps but that is only a very small part of the puzzle. It is your recipe and technique that is your gold. And a great soap recipe, my friends, is locked up tighter to a soap maker than your granny's "secret ingredient" in her prize apple pie.

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So I spent a lot of time with trial and error. And with this was a lot of money with trial and error. (Error being the more expensive part of the equation here) And after making $#%&@ pounds of soap, I had learned a lot, gave away a lot, cussed a lot, and I zeroed in on my gold.

I knew from the beginning that my gold wasn't complete, so in 2014 I made it a point to put myself through soap school - a curriculum that I had to put together myself. I invested in books and resources that taught me the details of technique and design and recipes as well as resources that brought me up close into the world of the science and chemistry behind it. I wanted to not only  know how to make a good soap, but also why it was a good soap.

[caption id="attachment_1263" align="aligncenter" width="467"]CYMERA_20130619_110429 My Oatmeal Goat Milk soap -- my first "gold" recipe that continues to be my best seller to this day.[/caption]

As it turns out, soap making is all chemistry. One hundred percent, beginning to end, like it or not, pure chemistry. You know that class that I couldn't follow worth a lick in high school? Yeah. Chemistry. So I had to bust my butt to wrap my head around it, but eventually I did. I spent most of 2014 and all of 2015 on doing nothing but studying soap chemistry and applying that knowledge to my gold.  I wanted to be able to build recipes and interchange them with techniques and understand start to finish what every single ingredient and step and temperature difference did to the final product. I obsessed myself with it. I dove into a world that was so foreign, yet ended up being so satisfying.

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Chemistry and math never came natural to me. Both are things I have to really work at to understand. So for nearly two years, day in and day out, I worked to comprehend this foreign language through soap. It will be an ongoing  learning experience that I will continue to  build on, but I am very happy with my benchmarks and for seeing my quite strict self-created "soap school" through. (Queue the graduation march theme here) On January first, I turned my tassel.

Which brings me to now. While chemistry and math may make my brain send smoke signals, art and design make my heart sing. Truly. I love to create. I love visual stimulation. I love putting my thoughts and ideas and emotions into visual objects and releasing them into the world. I love being inspired by people, situations, concepts, conversations. I love waking in the middle of the night with an obscure idea and obsessing over it day in and day out until I am teetering on insanity. I love allowing my brain to manically wrap itself around the minute artistic details even though it is physically painful to not act on them until I'm able to claw out of reality and find the time to eject it to make it happen.

 



Welcome, friends, to my 2016.

On January first, two thousand sixteen, I handed myself an imaginary, heavy, sparkly pink key (my favorite color, FYI) that opens the door into my own self-guided artistic journey through soap. Stocked with my arsenal of hard earned chemistry lessons and explored resources, I'm unlocking the dome over my soap studio and letting myself go. In that, I am welcoming you on my journey.

My theme for the next 12 months is Creating 2016, and I intend to do so every step of the way. I am taking my knowledge and now allowing myself to play with it in terms of color, design and themes. What does this mean? I have pared down my "Farm Favorites" line of soaps to my biggest sellers (don't worry!), I'm allowing myself the freedom to design and create soaps with an artist's heart, and I'm welcoming you on my journey.

[caption id="attachment_1269" align="aligncenter" width="861"]soap3 Finding inspiration and sharing my thought process.[/caption]

I'm going to use inspirations and themes to guide my artisan soap making, and I want to share the process. I am going to show you where the ideas come from, how the plan develops, my thought process and feelings, and the actual creation. You'll be let in on the techniques, the highlights, and the failures.

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Some of this will be done through photos and blogging, some is being done through video. Either way, I'm Creating 2016 and I plan to have a lot of fun with it. Hopefully it shows through my creations.

[caption id="attachment_1270" align="aligncenter" width="463"]soap4 Turning soap into art.[/caption]

Thank you, each and every one of you, for encouraging me through the years and for supporting our little farm with your purchases. From my art teachers from high school, college and beyond who taught me that art has no rules, to my friends, family, customers and online supporters who have encouraged me, I am so lucky to have learned from and been inspired by you. I am very excited about Creating 2016... I'm already having a blast. My entire soap studio has been reorganized, my calendar has been mapped out, I have several projects in the works, I'm tweaking my business plan, and I'm dedicating time to creativity on a regular basis. I will be updating you with more information about products and plans and goals for the year in a future post as details for them get ironed out.

I hope you're on your way to create Your 2016 as well. As they say, don't give up your daydream... Make it happen!

[caption id="attachment_1271" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]IMG_2442 Black Raspberry Soap inspired by a Japanese painting by unknown artist.  Bars available in limited quantities in late February.[/caption]

 

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