Saturday, 28 April 2012

Swirly Wurley Psychedelic Sixties Soap!!

Strange title but true..  This is Week 6 of the Soap Challenge organised by Amy Warden from Great Cakes Soapworks, I cant believe we have already got to Week 6 and there are now over 90 soap makers across the globe taking part, what a fabulous soap making party we are all having!!

Seriously, the challenge has been great, testing skills, making us think and, most of all, great fun.  The best thing for both us as makers and you (I hope) as watchers is that it is to continue. So below are the next few dates and the challenges we have to rise to:

Week 6 (starting April 22): Faux Funnel pour soap
Week 7 (starting April 29): Gradient colored soap
Week 8 (starting May 6): Salt Bars
Week 9 (starting May 13): Peaked Tops
Week 10 (starting May 20): Landscape soap
Week 11 (starting May 27): Making soap with natural ingredients

As before, we make the soap during the week and then on Saturday Amy posts the link to which we post our photos, videos, blogs etc.

So, what have Puro Soaps done this week?  We have decided to split the challenges up, as we did before. This gives us both the chance to play and expand on our skills.  Week 6 was Ishbels week...........'made in Devon'

Well the challenge was to make a soap using the Faux Funnel technique, don't ask, if I tried to explain this to you I would be here all week!  So instead I have made a video (with the help of my lovely son Ryan who is an excellent graphic designer), both of the making and then the next day cutting so you get to see the whole process and the final bars of soap.  It is shorter than the last one, honestly.  I hope you stick with it and watch until the end, the music is great (I would say that as its my choice) and you do get to see the whole soap making process in its entirety.  this soap is our really fabulous 'Beijinhos' which means in English 'Little Kisses', it's fragranced with Kismet - (Lush Karma Type) Patchouli, orange, lemongrass, lavender, pine, gardenia, sandalwood, and musk - Its gorgeous!! and, more importantly, behaves very well in cold process soap.

OK, so click and watch, please remember to leave us comments, we LOVE them, and do visit and sign up to our facebook site too, thats where you get to hear about all the special offers and new products first.

If you want to have a look at all the other challenge results please visit this page, I hope you do and if you like what you see do leave a comment.  We soap makers work very hard to design and produce what we do and to hear that you like it too makes all the difference.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

'Scent'sational Soap Challenge Wk5!

This weeks soap challenge set by Amy Warden of Great Cake Soapworks is all about blending your own fragrance. It's something we have done in the past but I've not thought about it quite so scientifically before.

After doing a bit of reading about the different 'notes' of essential oils I thought I'd try and make my blend with the recommended mixture of three parts from the top note group, two parts from the middle group and one part from the base note group. I noted down all the oils which work well together and came up with a formula of complimentary scents.
Less is more I told myself- or KISS- 'Keep It Simple Stupid'! Only problem with this was that just using three essential oils just wasn't daring enough this time, and I saw this as an opportunity to have some fun! So... I went to town!!
For the top notes I used three parts of each bergamot and orange,  for the middle note two parts of each geranium and  lavender, and for the base, one part of each rose and geranium. These were all essential oils I had in my fragrance stock, including...gasp..actual rose otto essential oil- well in for a penny, in for a small fortune! The essential oils were weighed to make up 3% of the soap base oils.

My next decision was to keep it plain and natural or...wait for it... Go to town!!! I just thought well, hey, its gonna smell extravagant (hopefully), it should look extravagant! So I added a bit of colour to turn it a lilac colour (representing the lavender) and added toppings of bright pink roses (the rose bit) and dark purple butterflies (don't ask- I'm just into butterflies at the moment!)

You can see the colour of the blended oils in the small pot in front of the pan above- it was really dark and thick!

I added one last little white swirl just to bring in some contrast to the lilac colour (getting a bit carried away by this point!), added the toppings and then kept my fingers crossed it would work as this is probably one of the most expensive soaps I have ever made!

 I removed the block from its mold this morning- it was very soft but looked and smelt wonderful- I can't wait for it to cure to see what its like to use.

 I have to say the whole scent is stunning- but I am finding it hard to pick up all the elements. I can't smell the orange for instance, and the lavender and geranium are definitely more recognisable. I asked my husband what he thought it smelt of- his answer was 'mmm nice Bubble Bath' !!! (not sure if that was a good answer or not!)

This really should be a luxurious bar to use- it's made with our usual recipe with Portuguese Olive Oil and Goats Milk and is totally Natural and Palm oil free.

If you want to see all the other soaps created in this challenge click this link.  We both hope it will go on as we have enjoyed that challenge of trying something new and pushing our boundaries - Thank you Amy for this wonderful opportunity.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Wine O'clock! (Week 4 of the Soap challenge)

Week 4 of The Soap Challenge set by Amy Warden of Great Cake Soapworks is to create a soap made using alcohol. We currently list a lovely beer soap but we have been recently trialing a wine soap, as there is no shortage of good local red wine in our area!

To see all the other soaps in Week 4 of the challenge go to this link.
All our neighbours make their own wine and we get given a lot (mainly red), so it seemed like the perfect thing to include in our range of Natural Portuguese Soap. I personally love the whole process and always get involved in the the grape harvest and pressing and, as some of you know already, we are both partial to a drop of the old vinho tinto!

I can't tell you how brave I had to be to post this photo of me pressing the grapes with my neighbour last autumn- but I thought it important that you know we at Puro will always go the extra mile when it comes to making our soap!!

Having done a little bit of research- I thought it best to simmer the wine first  to reduce the alcohol as I had read about explosive results when mixing the lye and alcohol. While the wine was simmering away I felt inspired to add some other ingredients into the pan - slices of lemon and orange peel and a stick of cinnamon- I just fancied making the wine a little fruity and spicy- almost like a mulled wine or sangria.

After it had cooled down I bagged it up and popped it in the freezer ready for when the both of us could get soap making!
We added the caustic soda to the frozen wine which meant it didn't immediately get too hot. It didn't smell too bad either! but it did go a dark sludgy brown, so we added a small amount of red soap colouring to the batch which turned the soap a rich shade of cinnamon. We made the toppings to continue with the fruity theme and added soap citrus slices and cinnamon curls. The smell was absolutely wonderful!
After unmolding the following day, the soap mellowed to the warm wine red you see below.

 The resulting soap which we are calling 'Sweet Vine' (Vinha Doce in Portuguese) is beautiful and smooth and surprising creamy and luxurious. You can see more pictures of this lovely soap and full ingredients by visiting this link to our website.  If you missed the line up of Week 3 outcomes you can still see them here, there are some wonderful ideas, all based on piping cold process soap, along with our video entry, piping roses.

We'll leave you with a photo of one of our lovely neighbours Gloria, who in the typical Portuguese hospitable manner, is never far away with a jug of the local wine!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Soap Display Stand Challenge!!

Phew!! It's finally done!
After our success of making the trugs last year I thought I'd have a go at building a display stand for one of the shops we supply here in Portugal. The trugs we have are lovely- especially for things like markets and fairs, but we'd had some feedback from friends that in this particular shop display it was hard to see the soaps properly.
Right! Display Case-  'How hard can it be?'  (our normal answer to a new challenge!!) The truth is that actually this time it was quite hard!  Once we'd got the basic unit together (I have to admit to having a bit of help from the hubby for this bit!), it became apparent that the shelves weren't all that strong. Easy solution- we'll put some dowel up at the front of each shelf for extra support.

 The only problem with this idea was that Dowel is very hard to get in rural Portugal! We tried making the struts with pieces of wood which had been routed to make them less square but it felt too chunky. Had I thought about it I could've gone into Ishbels house here and nicked her curtain poles (just kidding Ish!), but i ended up having to bring them back in my luggage from B&Q in the UK!!
After fitting some corner triangles at the back of the shelves, and the dowel struts, the stand felt really sturdy  (hubby said 'thats strong enough to sit on, that is!' but I'll take his word for that!)
I blended some paint to get some nice fresh Spring colours, and got the local printers in the village to make up some vinyl banners with our lovely logo.
One final coat of varnish and it was finally ready for some soap!
This is what it looks like in situ, and it just happened to be the same colours as the spring display which was being put together as I arrived- result!!

                                                 You can find it in

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Our first video - piping roses in natural soap

Hi everyone, Ish here.  I'm so excited, thanks to a comment received last week from Carol, I managed to get my camera settings right and now I can make a video and load it onto my computer.  Next big trick is to see if I can get it loaded up here too!!

This is a video for Week 3 of the Soap Challenge, organised for us all (88 soap makers from all over the world) by Amy Warden at Great Cakes Soapworks.  It has been such fun, I really have enjoyed challenging myself to go that bit further and do things that I have never attempted before.  Next weeks challenge is going to be interesting, making soap using alcohol.

Anyway, back to Week 3, we were challenged to pipe cold process soap, which for us at Puro is difficult to turn into a challenge as we are known for our cupcakes and soapcakes which all feature spectacular soap piping.  So, this is meant as a challenge right? I decided to undertake a piping experiment that I have never done before, piping roses.  I have done two different ones, the first being the easy option and the second considerably harder.  I hope you like the video, it is a bit long (I got carried away!) but I hope you stick it out to the end.  Let us know what you think, did you like it, is this a format you would like us to use again (but perhaps a bit shorter)?
Thank you for watching.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Natural soap goes a bit fruity!

Just a very quick blog before the Week 3 soap challenge reveal, had to let you know that Shell and I have added two new soaps to the website, the most amazing is:

Our revamped FLORESTA VERDE - GREEN FOREST , a firm NMSPortugal favorite returning in a new guise. This soap was loved by everyone who tried it so we are really happy to announce its relaunch.  Lovely creamy white soap with ice blue hints, decorated with beautiful handmade soap pine cones, leaves and nuts - the fragrance is fantastic, pine, eucalyptus, spruce and menthol it is frosty clean and fresh!

We also have a new FRUIT CAKE - BOLO INGLES soap - an aromatic offering, warm and homely, scented with fruity fig, sweet blackberry, raspberry and warming sultana - its yum, yum, yummy!

So go along to the website and have a look at the rest of the photos and information, we really like these new soaps and we hope you will like them too.

Let us know what you think....

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Plants, Flowers and Soap inspiration!

I know alot of our wonderful followers have come over from Ishbel's Naturally Made Soaps blog site. For those of you who don't know me - i'm the other half of Puro- currently running the Portugal side of things. Although I've been making soap for many years now, it's not my only passion! I'm a Horticulturalist, specialising in Planting and Garden Design. It's no surprise that alot of our soaps are inspired by the nature and landscape around us, and you'll have to forgive me if my blogs go off on one sometimes into the world of plants and gardens!
It's not only about the inspiration that goes into our soaps but also about the ingredients- I'm always trying to grow things that we can perhaps incorporate in our products- Lavender for instance- and knowing where our ingredients come from is really important to Ishbel and myself.
I was recently asked to design a garden here specifically for crafters The garden was to include lots of plants suitable for use in making toiletries and soaps, creative cookery and dying fabrics. How happy was I being involved in a garden which would have soapmaking ingredients and pigments etc. in!! Above is a photo of the garden in construction- as it's planted up over the next few weeks, I'll add some more photos to show you how it develops.

I also visited Wisley recently and I can't tell you how inspired I was!! Not only from a gardeners point of view but also as a soapdesigner!
Ishbel mentioned to me this week about us designing an orchid soap- just look at these amazing orchids from the new glasshouse-how about that for inspiration!