Monday, 13 February 2012

Beginners Soap Courses are so much fun!

This is when I get to say how much I LOVE my job.......

I really, really do.  I did two courses very close together last week so I thought you might like to see some pictures.  The first was at The Old Kennels, Dunkeswell, Devon I have taught there before and really love the venue.  Tracey Bell the organiser is also great, very efficient, friendly and so welcoming. This was a particularly fun class.  I had 8 folks on the course from all over the place, a couple had been on Kennels courses before but none had made soap so it meant they all had a lot of information to take in, in just one day - a huge ask!

It really is a beautiful location and a wonderful light, airy studio
Everyone turned up on time and after introductions and basic information (I always do a really comprehensive set of course notes to refer to) we got working measuring oils, lye and water.

They all made some beautiful soaps, really varied and pretty and we even had time to make some lovely fizzy bath melts.  It was a very busy day.
Then only a few days later I was lucky enough to go to The Yarner Trust, North Devon.  It was funny really, it felt a little like going home.  Many years ago I was a pupil doing my A'levels at Dartington Hall School, Nr Totnes in Devon.  A co-educational school which was started by the Elmhursts and attached to Dartington College and The Great Hall.  In 1978 The Yarner Trust was formed and two small farms were set up, designed to show how a small farm could support a family in a self sufficient and ecological way.  Unfortunately Yarner Farm in Dartington is no longer operational but Welcome Barton in Welcome, between Bude and Bideford on the North Devon coast is still going, offering wonderful courses and events.
Because it was a long way for me to travel they very kindly offered me B&B for the night before.  I turned up after a long, dark and rainy drive to find an absolute gem, what a fabulous house.  600 years old with amazing character, beautifully restored without damaging any of the features, and obviously much loved.

A beautiful cozy living room with a huge wood burner

An incredible kitchen, the archway goes right through to the fireplace, see the photo above

In the kitchen was a Saxon window - can you imagine how old that is?  somewhere between 450ad to 1066ad

I felt so welcome, when I went upstairs to find my room for the night I had a lovely surprise

My bedroom door!

The course was wonderful, it took place in the beautiful old converted barn across the yard from the house, a huge woodburner fire chucked out heat and we had a superb time.  We used the large camp kitchen to do the melting, mixing lye and washing up and absolutely everyone mucked in.

Again, they made some lovely and amazingly different soaps - well done everyone
A really beautiful venue and a fantastic group of soapmakers
Steamy washing up, bless them, still wearing their goggles and gloves

I am booked to return to The Old Kennels on 15th March 2012 and the 27th September 2012 to teach new, improvers/intermediate courses, available to those who have already done a beginners course and Welcome Barton and The Yarner Trust have indicated that they would like to do the same as well.  I can't wait!  When our new website goes live there will be full details of the courses.  In the mean time you can always go to the websites of The Old Kennels and of The Yarner Trust.

Have you ever done a soap making course?  was it a good experience?  I would love to know.

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