Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Soap Workshops & Soap Curing Rack

The last two weekends we've had a full house with a series of soapmaking workshops. A big part of the goal of our urban homestead project is education - teaching homesteading practices and knowledge to other urbanites - in the hopes that these skills will not be lost, to inspire simple living and self-reliance, and to bring community members together in an informal learning environment. Soapmaking has, not surprisingly, turned out to be one of the more popular workshops, and we offer several courses each year that always fill up quickly. As it's nearing holiday season, many workshop participants were thinking of simple handmade gift ideas, with beautiful soaps made the traditional cold-process method will be perfect.

Cold-process (as opposed to hot process or french milled) soap involves making soap from scratch, using a combination of oils that are heated, and then mixed with a lye-water solution. Then additives like botanicals, pure essential oils, or clays are added, the soap is poured into wooden molds and cured for at least 4 weeks. The result is hard, stable, richly lathering bars that are long-lasting, mild, and nicely moisturizing to the skin. This is my preferred method of soapmaking as it is a traditional process that has been used by soapmakers for many generations. Advanced techniques can include marbling or layering the soap for additional effects.

It's a busy soapmaking time for Little City Farm too, as many of our holiday orders are coming in, as well as another craft fair this weekend. Here are a few photos of my latest soaps on the curing rack. Each variety uses at least one herb grown & harvested from our own garden. We are working on an online store linked to our website, hopefully up and running by early December. All soaps are also available on our etsy site:

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