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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An Update from HSMG DC Advocate, Mary Anne Walsh

Information provided by the Handcrafted SoapMakers Guild......

Handcrafted Soap Leaving an Impression on Congress

Feleciai Favroth, Congresswoman Sewell (AL), HSMG President Leigh O'Donnell

The products made by members of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild (HSMG) produce are getting congressional attention, and the attention is very positive.

During our recent visits with Members of Congress and their staffs in February and March, we focused our message on the quality of the products HSMG members make and the contribution these businesses make to communities. We also passed along samples of soaps made by HSMG members so congressional leaders and their staffs could see for themselves the high quality, professional and beautiful products.

In the days and weeks following those meetings, the soap products continue to produce encouraging feedback, which in turn, expands support for the handcrafted soapmaking industry. In one three day period alone (March 15-17), four Members of Congress sought out Mary Anne to comment on how they, their spouse or their staff loved the soap. In another instance, Mary Anne attended a function with a Representative who hadn't met with the HSMG. However, she had HEARD about the "wonderful" natural handcrafted soap from a colleague and asked that the next time the HSMG comes to Washington she wanted to be on the list for a meeting.

As you can see, HSMG's efforts and advocacy in Washington are reaching our intended and growing congressional audience. As we continue to advocate on behalf of the industry our message remains the same: Handcrafted soapmakers are deeply committed to safe, high quality products and that any legislation that adversely affects this industry is unnecessary, burdensome and will jeopardize the very products that so many consumers want and enjoy...even Members of Congress and their staffs.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beginner Soap Makers Suggestions

What products, equipment and knowledge do you need to start making cold processed soap on a small scale?

Soap Molds:
Since at this point you aren't sure how much soap you will need to be making, we can start with one of our Stock Soap Molds. Even as your business grows, these Soap Molds can still be used for "specialty" batches or for test batches so nothing is wasted. We are suggesting either our Single Loaf Mold or our Triple Loaf Mold.

The Single Loaf Mold has one cell and makes a loaf of soap about 3 lbs. If you were to slice the loaf into 1" thick bars, you would have 15 bars of soap that were 3.25" x 2" x 1" thick. The Triple Loaf Mold has 3 cells so it would make 3 loafs of soap totaling 9 lbs and would yield 45 bars of soap if slicing the same 1" thickness.

Soap Cutters:
Depending upon your budget, you have two ways to go here.
1.The most basic, is our Single Bar Soap Box with either a Smooth Blade or Krinkle Blade (or both). This setup would slice one bar of soap at a time.

2. Our Loaf Soap Cutter which allows you to cut the entire loaf of soap into bars all at once. Our Loaf Soap Cutter can be traded in for full value at a later date as your business grows and upgrade to our Manual Soap Cutter or Air Soap Cutter ProMold System.

We would definitely invest in a high quality Thermometer because so much depends upon it. We recommend is the "Just Point Infrared Thermometer". If budget is an issue, check out the other thermometers on our Thermometers page.

We suggest investing in a good quality scale - again because everything depends upon it. The Soapers Scale is one that you will always use. Even when you are making large batches, you can still use it to weigh your essential oils. You want accuracy at low weights and this one will do the job. Check out our variety of scales here.

Power Wands (Mixers):
For small batches, this is the way to go. You don't want to hand stir for an hour when you can bring it all to trace in 3-4 minutes. We recommend the Light Commercial Power Wand - PB08 Model.

Safety Equipment:
It is definitely important to protect your lungs, your face and your hands. We consider these items essential: Half-mask Respirator, Face Shield Headgear, Disposable SoapMakers Powdered Gloves (not the same as Rubber Gloves). Check out our Safety Equipment page here.

Mixing Equipment:
See our Mixing Accessories Page for a number of items that you may wish to include: Some suggestions are: Spatulas, Measuring Cups, 2 Quart Stainless Steel Pitcher (great for essential oils, or mixing your lye or for pouring lip balm solutions and lotions later on -many different uses - has a fine pouring spout).

Soap Drying Trays:
After you make your soap, you will need trays to air dry the bars. These trays are stackable and vented which means they take up less room and the vents help speed up the curing time. Check Out our Soap Drying Trays Here.

We carry several books on Soap Making and the HandCrafted Body Care Business. A few that would be good to start with are; "The Soap Book: Simple Herbal Recipes" "Marketing Your Handmade Products" or "Creating An Herbal Body Care Business". Later on, you may wish to add other books to your collection. Check Out All of Our Books Here.

SoapMaker Software:
This Software enables you to take any recipe you like and resize it instantly to fit the batch you wish to make. It also will calculate exactly the amount of lye and water you need, etc. If you go with the Pro Version, it will even keep your Inventory of all of your soap oils, your lye, your scents, your boxes, packaging, etc so you know exactly how much that bar of soap "costs" you to make. You can take a guided tour of it by visiting Here.

There, - now you have the “bare” essentials. Later on, when your batches increase in size, we can add other equipment such as an Oil Heater, Pot Tipper, one or more of the larger ProMolds and a ProCutter to go with it. In other words, we have the equipment for you to go from making a few bars of soap a week to thousands of bars a week without you having to discard any of the equipment listed above. We believe one should be careful when they make an investment in their business. Why purchase equipment that will be useless as your business grows? It makes no sense to waste money which is the reason we offer what we do. It is better to have "quality" equipment that will last than to foolishly invest in equipment that will not withstand the test of time.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Giving Into and Giving To Yourself

by Sandy Maine
Creative Alchemy, Issue 4 Winter 1998
When was the last time you shared some nurturing time with yourself?? We have all read about the plight of people (often women) who do too much... who take care of too much... who shoulder heavy burdens of work life, family life and community life at the total expense of their own life force.

How can we stop experiencing our lives as an endless series of burdensome responsibilities and begin to experience a manageable amount of responsibilities as joyful and fulfilling? How do we trim our experience to just the right amount of balanced work life, family life, community life and personal life?

The first step is learning how to say a firm and diplomatic NO to everything except the most valuable and important things in life.

What are the most valuable and important things to you? Make a list and hang it on your refrigerator or wear it in a pouch around your neck. Try to remain focused on giving yourself to those things only.

Practice a simple ‘no phrase’ such as: “ I am happy to say that I have made a strong commitment to making more time in my life for my family and my self and so I simply must say no to all outside requests for my time and energy. I really value what you are trying to accomplish and I hope that in the future I may be in a better position to help you, but at this time while I am trying to gain better balance in my life I must say no. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

The second step is to eradicate guilty feelings for standing up to the imbalances in your life by saying NO.

If you feel pangs of guilt try to recognize these feelings as part of an old unhealthy pattern. Close your eyes and imagine a beautiful rose in front of your face, put the unhealthy guilt feelings into the rose and then explode the rose “into infinity and beyond”. There, its energy will become inconsequential to you and to everyone else.

Realize that most of our lives imbalances are due to a social design problem. Consumerism and advanced rampant technology is at the root of most of our systemic problems. Your job of simplifying will become much easier if you can place limitations on or curb either or both of these in your life

Imagine the type of life you wish to create and then do a little something each day to bring that vision toward reality. Please write to us on these topics if you feel moved to do so. We are very interested in hearing from you and sharing your wisdom with others.
You are the only one who will offer you, yourself and yourself only some time for you. The more that you give to yourself the richer your inner-self will become. The richer you are inside the more you will have to offer to your family and the world. Take control and initiate time for you every day, week, month and year in the name of a better you for a better world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Legislative Update: Meetings Continue with Members of Congress

Read the HSMG March 14 Blog Post for more information on how the HSMG is continuing their efforts to reach out to Members of the 112th Congress.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shea Butter Beauty

Review by Sandy Maine

Shea Butter, with its sizable quantity of unsaponifiable fats, has moisturizing and soothing effects. In addition, it contains a high concentration of vitamins and other active elements, thus adding other more precise activities to these general properties. With a high content of cinnamic acid, shea butter also has the added benefit of protecting the skin against UV rays and with natural latex; it may also prevent certain sun allergies.

Shea Butter also promotes capillary circulation and cell regeneration and thus favors the healing of small wounds, skin cracks, skin crevices and skin ulcers. It also has antielastase characteristics, lending to the belief it may be used as an active ingredient to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. In the cosmetic field, these properties are an asset against skin aging. It has restructuring effects on the epidermis, also on dry and fragile hair. Dry skin, dermatitis, dermatoses eczema, burns and sunburn all benefit from the use of natural shea butter.

Rheumatism and muscle aches are also thought to benefit from shea butter. It is also believed to ease colds because it decongests nasal mucous tissues. Shea Butter is well tolerated by the skin and does not normally trigger allergic reactions and can even be sued on very sensitive skin areas such as mucous tissues and around the eyes.

Shea Butter is, therefore, and outstanding ingredient for cosmetic and pharmaceutical purposes, even incorporated in high proportions. It is easy to work into all kinds of emulsions and makes a very good excipient (carrier) as it prevents allergenic reactions without altering the active principles.

Sandy Maine is the owner of SunFeather Natural Soap Company

Friday, March 11, 2011

This article was written and copyrighted by Dennis Gaskill of www.i-webmaster.org and is reprinted here with permission.

The Basic Unit of Success
Do you know what the basic unit of success is? It's one day.

Success comes from making good use of each day. It's a cumulative process where you build today upon yesterdays efforts while having a reasonable idea of what you're trying to build.

You wouldn't grab a hammer and wood and start nailing boards together without a plan and expect to build a fine house. It's equally difficult to built an excellent life by hammering each day to the next without an idea of what you're trying to become.

Ask any successful person and they'll tell you that no single day made all the difference. Rather, it was the procession of days lived with purpose that built success one small step at a time.

Even a masterpiece such as the Mona Lisa is made up of thousands of tiny brush strokes, each one insignificant by itself. Add them together though, and the thousands of meaningless brush strokes add up to one significant work of art.

Our lives are like that. Few days are very significant in and of themselves, but each day added to another can create a life that is a work of art. Each day is part of the grand mosaic. To create the best life we can have, we must learn to treat each day as special.

Only today can contribute to the mosaic of our life. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes, it's always today. If we waste today we can never get it back, and so a piece of our masterpiece is missing. Too many missing pieces means we'll never create the masterpiece we want of our life.

As long as we have life, though, it's never too late to start.

~ Dennis Gaskill

Friday, March 4, 2011

Loaf Cutter Video - Customer Review

A special thank you to HennaSooq....for the great video demonstrating our Loaf Soap Cutter as well as a few other products.

Check out the Video to see what she thinks!