Monday, 19 July 2010

Rock n Roll Brides, Rockabetty Studios and Restoration Cakes!

Well with names like that these three intrepid, enterprising, exciting, wacky, fun and fantastic companies all run by women must surely grab your attention!

All three are on Twitter and that's how I became aware of their fantastic businesses.

I'm relatively new to Twitter but currently have the pleasure of tweeting with Duncan Bannatyne of Dragons Den fame, Andy Murray (although he doesnt tweet much) and Ben Bradshaw to namedrop a few...........  If you want to be one of my followers tweet @soapchickuk and say hi or follow the link on this page - it's fun.

Best of all I have made some really good contacts for the business particularly people who live locally.  I went and visited a new photographic studio in Exmouth called "Exmouth Studios"  funnily enough - run by Edd King and Claire Sloan they have taken over a lovely old building, done it up beautifully and are offering a wide variety of service from portraits to photo printing (they have a very large photo printer).  The studio is located in the old Red Cross Hall on South Street in Exmouth, opposite the side of the Blackmore Theatre. Post code for sat nav is: EX8 2SA.  They are a very friendly bunch but don't just take my word for it, go and say hello - Edd makes a wicked cup of tea!

Anyway, I digress.  I wanted to tell you more about the three linked businesses I have met on Twitter.  They all have something to do with weddings.

Rock n Roll Brides is run by Kat Williams who runs a bridal service with a difference, in her own words

"my aim is to provide a little haven of kick ass weddingness in the overly poofy, pastel and often puke-worthy wedding world. If you’ve ever picked up a bridal magazine and felt queasy, or trawled the internet and felt disheartened by what you didn’t find, well my friend you are in the right place!"

My kind of girl - her blog is excellent (click the link above) its funny, fully of brilliant photos and ideas, I really recommend you have a look.  I was so chuffed when she featured my cupcakes recently.   Kim has also featured another two wonderful businesses Rockabetty Studios and Restoration Cakes on her blog. 
This is one of the terrific photographs from Kims blog, taken by Rockabetty Studios who specialise in wonderful photo shoots with fab vintage clothes and accessories with the aim of turning any bored housewife or working girl into a stunning glamor puss!!  Its a picture of Charlotte Gamble of Restoration Cakes whose celebration cakes have a stunning vintage feel and will really bring that WOW factor to your party or wedding.  Do take the time to visit these three ladies sites, I promise you will not be disappointed.

I now need to go away and count up the pennies, I would sooooo love to have one of those studio shoots, I am the most non photogenic person in the whole world, if they could make me look even one tenth as good as Charlotte I would be amazed!!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Naturally Made Soaps appearing at Honiton Show and Taunton Flower Show

Yup, come and see us, the new Budleigh Soap
will be on sale and so will the new Devon Cream Tea cupcakes which are selling like hot/cupcake/scones ........... to be sure!!

Honiton Agricultural Show - Thursday 5th August
Here is the map of the show site at Honiton, print off this one, showing where the craft tent is and I will give you a free soap of your choice!  Come and meet me and my lovely helper Dot.  We will make you very welcome.

Taunton Flower Show 6th & 7th August

Do the same with this map for the Riverside Craft Area at the Taunton Flower Show, make sure you bring this print off with you and get your FREE soap.  This show is the premiere flower show in the area, come to the historic Vivary Park and see a real British flower show at its best, lots for the family to see and do.  A kids/family area with a wild west theme will feature this year.

Im sooooo looking forward to meeting you all, have a great summer and lets hope we have some good weather.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


I could not stay in bed this morning, just had to get up and cut up yesterdays soap to see what I got.  Soap making is so wonderful, nothing is totally predictable and you never know how each batch is going to turn out.  That can be good and can be frustrating too but my experience is that, even if your ideas don't turn out exactly as you wanted you usually get something good.  Its this journey of discovery that is my main driver in the business making me go on trying out more ideas and new ways of creating them.

I have been thinking about this particular idea for a long time.  I live in East Devon, very near to the World Heritage designated stretch of coastline called the Jurassic Coast.  This stretches for 95 miles from East Devon (Exmouth) to Dorset with rocks recording 185 million years of the earths history.  Quite an amazing place and I really wanted to mark this somehow, in soap!  My favorite bit is the cliffs and beach at Budleigh Salterton, the river Otter snakes its way down joining the coast here and it it a truly breathtaking place.  The beach is characteristically covered in wonderful elliptical pebbles, part of the ancient pebblebeds from the area, the cliffs are red and very dramatic and the sea is quite often stained red on rough stormy days.  I believe the cliffs are red because they were once sand dunes and form part of the Triassic section of the Jurassic Coast.  I wanted to capture a slice of this scene.

 To find out more about this wonderful part of our coastline click here for the World Heritage Site web pages

So how to do this.  I needed to make pebbles, lots of them!  But rolling lots and lots of balls of soap takes ages and anyway I could not then create the way the pebbles look.  They are really beautiful, reds, pure white, black, greys and almost cream.  lots have streaks, dots, lines and spots in them so how to get that effect?  I had to think hard

I decided to roll out chunks of CP soap that I had already made in advance especially for this project, goats milk soap but left absolutely natural in colour.  Each roll was coloured using ground charcoal, red oxide and yellow oxide which seemed to make sense to me as they are all natural earthy pigments.  Some rolls were split down the middle, covered with a light dusting of colour and put back together so I could get lines.  These would be placed in the soap to create the pebble effect.

I decided I wanted a mixture of warm, summer like scents evocative of suncream, ice creams and warm skin as well as a fresh, ozone kind of smell to represent sea breezes and beautiful skies.  Discolouration might be a problem as I chose to use sandalwood and vanilla, so I only scented the cliff section thinking that if it is going to go brown on me (because of the vanilla) that would not matter too much.  The Gracefruit scent "Rice Flower" was my ozone choice.  Its really light, a bit floral and very fresh, I love it.  Like most floral scents it goes very fast in CP soap, I knew I would have to work fast and be careful, so I only used this in my last layer, the sky.

So how did it turn out?  I am so pleased, it looks great and smells so beautiful.  I know its going to change, I think the cliffs will get darker and the sky will change too.  I did want to get more white into the sky and swirl a bit but the Rice Flower set so quickly I only just had enough time to get it into the mold!

I know soap makers always talk about cutting up the soap, I thought you might like to see how I do this so here's a step by step for this project, you can see how exciting it is to finally reveal the hidden design inside.

The side of my plywood mold (made by my lovely boyfriend) has now been clipped off and the teflon liner slides out easily.

I then peel back the liner to begin to reveal the various layers of this soap.  I wanted to create quite simply a slice through the scene revealing the sea at the bottom swirling around a pebble beach with the lovely red cliffs in the background and a dramatic sky above - well that was the aim!

OK, now we begin to see a slice emerge, not the complete thing yet as this is just the very end of the loaf cut off to give me a good straight edge to start to measure out my bars.  It is giving an idea of the finished thing though............ I think.  Im still holding my breath at this point.

Now I carefully measure of one inch sections of the loaf which, when cut will provide me with 2 bars for each slice, 44 in total.

And start to cut, the two end pieces are at the back of the loaf, still not sure of the final look yet.........

And there it is, a slice of Jurassic Coast soap inspired by Budlegh Salterton!!  Yipee, its nice, I think.  I wish some of the pebbles were a bit darker but I like the stormy look of the sky and the swirly sea round the lower pebbles, exactly what I wanted!

I cant help playing around with the slices to make a landscape scene!  the slices to the right of the picture are the finished size.

The finished loaf, all cut up, ready for trimming and curing.  I cant tell you how nice it smells, its exactly what I wanted, the sandalwood really comes through and the ozone sky gives a sunny lift.  I really love it, think this might be a keeper - What do you think?

Friday, 2 July 2010

Bye bye Tea party soaps and HELLO Cream Teas!!

I'm both excited and sad today.  I have been working like a trojan to get my new soaps put together and I'm really annoyed with myself that I did not take step-by-step photos, I think they would have been fun, oh well, next time.  I was sad as I had to say goodbye to my "Mad Hatter Tea Party" cupcakes.  Its funny how I get attached to my soaps, but I really do!  I am just hoping that their new owner and bride-to-be is as happy as I am.  Her wedding in at the end of July and I wish her all the best for a beautiful and sunny day.  Here they are for one last time nestled in their new special cupcake boxes, don't they look snug?  I'm so glad that the corners of the tablecloths just fit above the holes for the cupcake bases - pure luck! (by the way, they are all CP soap apart from the jam)

So now to the exciting bit.  My lovely daughter Aimee had the idea.  "Mum why don't you make some cream tea cupcakes?"  To which I replied "Great idea!!" (because I stupidly think I can make anything in CP soap and I love a challenge)
We live in beautiful, sunny Devon, England and a tradition both here and in Cornwall is to have a cream tea.  For those of you who don't know what that is I will explain.  You order a cream tea, and it has to be at a proper old farmhouse with a lovely garden full of roses, and out comes a tray groaning with china teapot, milk jug, cups and saucers and a serving dish full of handmade, just out of the oven that morning, plain scones.  (am I making you hungry yet?) - also on the tray is a dish piled high with homemade jam, full of fruit and smelling delicious and then the main event - Rich, golden and scrummy clotted cream.  If you don't know this wonderful stuff you have never really lived.... its gloriously stiff, never really runny, with a crust that breaks as soon as you put your spoon into it - my sister, who now lives in California - can eat it straight off the spoon!!  This is what a table usually looks like.....

So today I put them altogether.  For those soap makers among you, I had already made the fruit using rebatch CP soap scented with berries FO and had made a basic goats milk and olive oil soap with added honey and poured this into my molds the day before.  I cut the "scones", sponged the freshly baked look using natural oxide pigments, made up my special whipped clotted cream CP soap and put them all together.  I am so pleased with the results!



So, the end of a very busy but productive day and that has to be good.  Now I want to go and look up lots of other countries national, favourite sweet/pastry dishes and see if I can make them in soap.......  Oh my, I think I'm on a roll........  ideas please?