Coming Soon...

A fresh start for my Etsy shop - I'm working on restocking and preparing for the holidays so please do check back at my shop to see what's new. I will have new soap and also fresh batches of the deodorant you know and love!

thanks to all my customers for the warm messages and inquiries - I'm still here and working on getting your smelly stuff made. :)


Does it Lather?

That's a common question I get when people are checking out my booth. I think I need to set up a portable sink so I can give them the answer to their question with a demonstration, because look at this stuff!!


You can't resist...

this new soap I just listed, it's one of the most popular fragrances for handmade soap and with good reason! It's the perfect baby scent, kids love it, it's not too feminine for dads and boyfriends, but still yummy & sweet enough for those of us that love a warm comforting scent. Oatmeal, Milk and Honey... Mmmm!
oatmeal milk and honey soap

And don't miss this one - my Glacier soap: if you need to wake up and get your act together in the morning, here's a bar that will do the trick. A pure peppermint soap, not too strong but minty enough to be refreshing and energizing. On those summer mornings when you can feel the heat building before the day even starts, peppermint soap is the perfect way to keep your cool!

Glacier peppermint soap


Featured at MeanBean!

Today I got notice that I am being featured at the MeanBean blog. They interviewed me for this feature so if you want to know the nosy questions they asked and all the details you can click over there and check it out! lol

thanks goes to Kristin for a great feature, hope everyone enjoys it.

MeanBean's interview with me


Spoiled Rotten

That's how I'm feeling after receiving some super-luscious yummy stuff from Product Body! I am thoroughly enjoying this gorgeous array of skin-pampering items. Their Mama Bomb is a perfectly balanced moisturizing blend that I'm finding just perfect for those areas like elbows that winter has been harsh to, and my jar of Shea Butter Infused Cream has claimed first place in my line-up of after-shower skin treats. I still have a sample of Sugarfoot to enjoy, the ruby red grapefruit scent is already a favorite. You can find PB's Sugarfoot mentioned as a Real Simple Pick in Real Simple magazine's May '08 issue - 'nuff said!

Still working on it

Inspired by the turquoise bar I did a while back, I've done a batch of soap "rocks" to test out how it works with cold process in the first pour rather than a rebatch style which is how I did the turquoise. Most rock or gem type soaps are made in melt & pour which is a different beast altogether and not my forte. So I'm trying it out with my method, and my first attempt was interesting and instructional if not quite what I was hoping for. Some things went right and others not so well, but I hope to do better with the next batch. Since they aren't up to the standard I am going for, I'm not planning to put them up in my Etsy shop.

Etsy Talent Abounds

I recently was the beneficiary of a great swap with Torimade at Etsy. She created one of her Angels for me that fits my life just perfectly right now. I enjoyed communicating with her, she was as sweet as can be and understood what I wanted right down to color selection for the sculpture. I hope you'll take a look at her creations and feel confident in buying from or even placing a custom order with her. Just click on the photo to go to Torimade's shop at Etsy!

Mosaic Soap for Spring

My latest Mosaic soap, each tile placed by hand. These bars are a bit thicker than my usual bars, a very generous 6oz, and are the perfect fragrance for spring - a blend of bergamot & chamomile.

Savonara Mosaic Soap


Soap is Big

in my world. :)Savonara Handmade Soap

Sweet Lavender For Mother's Day

When I was a little girl, someone gifted me with a bar of Yardley's English Lavender soap. It was a special treasure that I kept in the box and savored before I finally brought it to the tub. Now I can make my own lavender soap anytime I want! Here's yesterday's new listing, a lavender bar that would make a sweet Mother's Day gift or a special treat for yourself.

Lavender Sweetheart Soap


Newly Listed

Two new Olive Oil soaps are now listed at my Etsy shop - take a peek! Just click on the photos below to go to the product's page in my shop.

Tea Tree with French Green Clay:

Tea Tree with Green ClayOrange Patchouli:Orange Patchouli


Soap Gem

I played around with some soap yesterday and came up with this:

soap gem turquoise

They are fun to make but more time-consuming than making a regular batch. I'm trying to decide whether to list it at my shop and make more... I'd have to list it at a higher price point than my regular bars. What do you think?

Etsy Talent

I recently found an adorable gift for my daughter at Etsy - I wanted to find something for her that was non-commercial so of course I was shopping handmade! I found dmollison's Handcrafted Sock Puppies and was immediately intrigued. When I clicked on her shop section for Teapot Babies, I knew this was what I'd been looking for! I found my little one the sweetest dolly ever, a one-of-a-kind Teapot Baby made from recycled wool sweaters. She is soft, cute and cuddly and has an innocent expression you can't help but love. Click on the photo to go see what new creations are waiting for homes at dmollison's Etsy store!

Tea Pot Baby from dmollison at Etsy


It's a Keeper

Today I have a helper to present the latest soap on the curing rack:

Sock Monkey presents to you his favorite soap -

sock monkey and a bar of black and white almond soap

This bar is scented in pure almond, yum!


Waiting is the hardest part

I've made four kinds of soap this weekend and if I could I'd list them all now!! But they must cure, so off they go to the curing shelves. I can, however, give you a sneak peek. For right now, here is my favorite of the four, a jasmine-scented pink soap with a bold black swirl.

pink soap with black swirl


It's a sunny soapy day

and the right way to start a sunny day is to get up, have your tea and unmold a couple of logs of soap... stare at them while sipping, pondering what might be inside. Go about your morning chores with a feeling like there's a surprise waiting for you - that's a good feeling. Put it off a little longer to make it last. Finally, go get your soap cutter. Take one last look at the long smooth sides of those gorgeous logs, and cut them up. Ahh. Now that's how to start a sunny soapy day.

soap logs


Yes, Saponification can be Fun!

I know I just posted about lye, but I ran into this page and had to share it. Even kids will understand this super cute explanation of how lye and oils turn into soap, with a little extra info about how soapers must calculate their ingredient amounts properly and why it's important.

How Soap is Made.


New Item!

I've added one of my favorite products to my Etsy shop - a deodorant made with (of course!) unrefined shea butter. I've been using it for a couple of years now and absolutely love it. Before I started making my own, I tried switching from typical commercial brands to some of the "natural" deodorant brands on the market. I liked their convenience but found that they didn't work all that well. My formula works much better for me, and I like being able to customize the scent with my favorite essential oils for their antibacterial and fragrant properties. My favorite right now is my Orange & Tea Tree blend. I also offer an Unscented variety for those who prefer to go fragrance-free.

deodorant butter from Savonara


Join My Mailing List

Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to join my mailing list - I only send out a few newsletters or sale alerts a year so don't worry, I won't clog up your inbox with tons of mail!


The Lowdown on Lye

I've often received the question, "Does your soap have lye in it?" from potential customers who worry that soap made with lye may be harsh and unpleasant to the skin. In the past, lye was made from wood ash and the strength of the solution was variable, so that the soap maker could not measure precisely how much to use. Grandma's lye soap was remembered by generations as being awfully harsh. Now of course we can measure quite precisely, and research has been done to determine exactly how much lye it takes to saponify each unit of every type of fat a soap maker might use.

So what was that word, saponify? That is what happens when you mix a fat or oil with an alkali or 'base'.(lye is an alkali). As explained at Wikipedia: "The fats and the bases are hydrolyzed by water; the free glycerol heads bond with the free hydroxyl groups to form glycerin and the free sodium molecules bond with the fatty acid tails to form soap".

Huh? All that means is the chemical reaction breaks up all the molecules of the lye and oils, and they go back together in different formations. The newly formed substances are glycerin and soap. No soap can be made without an alkali like lye, and no lye is left in properly made soap - it has all been used up creating the soap and glycerin molecules.

So no, there is no lye in my soap. :)


How I Started Soaping

A recent forum topic asked how the members got their start soapmaking, so I thought I'd share here as well.

In 1996 I was a single mom living in the center of a small town. My way of relaxing was to research "lost arts", and learn them. This satisfied my creative needs as well as provided useful and pretty things that I couldn't afford to buy myself. One day I was browsing inside a local bookstore/boutique just to look at all the wonderful treasures for inspiration, and I came across Anne Bramson's book Soap. I was immediately fascinated with the idea of being able to make something so completely necessary and useful, and not being a fan of commercial bar soaps that stripped my sensitive skin, I was excited about making a soap I could actually use.

I walked over to the local grocery store. At that time, grocery chains still cut some of their own meat and the store had a tallow bin. I confused a couple of employees with my request for tallow, but eventually they got me to a butcher who knew what I meant and he reached into the freezer bin and pulled out a wrapped lump the size of a ten pound bag of sugar, and equally heavy. I lugged that thing home, and spent the next couple of days rendering it. Not the most pleasant task, to be sure, but the satisfaction of seeing the pot yield a clean, white disk of tallow was all the encouragement I needed to keep going.

Next chance I got, I set up my soap making assembly line and mixed the ingredients with my fingers crossed. I had no stick blender at the time, the book I had referred only to hand stirring, and the internet was not a common household name then; I was on my own. So I stirred, and stirred... eventually the mix came together into a creamy thick consistency and I added some cedar essential oil and a decoction of rosemary (It amazes me that even with my first batch, I jumped right in to scenting and adding botanicals!)then I poured it into a shoebox lined with plastic.

Little did I realize when I started this batch that I would end up with about 12lbs of soap!! But I still remember turning out that gorgeous, white block of soap... what a beauty it was, even with all its wrinkles and bumps... I was hooked.


Tea Tree

I've one more Castile-style soap on the curing rack right now, and while the fragrance isn't exactly the kind you'd wear for perfume, I'm finding myself inhaling deeply when I walk by it. Tea tree is an essential oil with antiseptic and antifungal properties, with an herbal, medicinal smell, and it makes me feel squeaky clean just thinking about it. This bar would be appropriate for skin that isn't perfect, like most of us have. Studies have shown that a preparation of Tea Tree Oil can be as effective for acne as bezoyl peroxide. I've added French Green Clay as it is traditionally used for acne-prone or oily skin. These bars will be available for purchase at my Etsy shop the end of April.
handmade tea tree soap from Savonara


Featured At...

It's always fun when other artisans take note of your work, and this week a fellow Etsian has featured my Soapstone Hand Soap at her blog. You can see the entry at Lucky Duck Designs. She's created a perfect gift pairing of the Soapstone with one of her cards, a clever duo to give to someone who could use a little appreciation.

handmade soap from Savonara


Shea Butter musings

I have been enjoying my shea butter Body Scrub Bars so much, I got to thinking about why for the past three years I have kept some unrefined shea butter on hand at all times.

I started out with shea by purchasing some refined shea butter to soap with. It was pure white, smooth, odorless and, well, an awful lot like shortening. I couldn't see what the fuss was all about. So for my next purchase, I chose the unrefined version. Then the light bulb came on - this was totally different.

The unrefined shea tells you that it is a product derived from nature. Pale greenish tan in appearance, it has an earthy look in contrast to the factory-uniform refined shea. The nutty, almost smoky scent gives you a hint of the manufacturing being close to the land.
unrefined shea butter
Using the unrefined shea was a different experience as well. When applied to a rashy area, the redness and itchiness diminishes significantly within a few minutes. The creamy butter softens any scaliness and helps stop peeling. It is so soothing, there are clearly active constituents within the butter of which I know little - what I do know is that they work!

I normally like to use shea straight as a balm because I feel that it is most effective when it is not diluted with other ingredients, but I'm glad I decided to use it in my Body Scrub Bars. Besides being just plain fun and decadent to use, it's an easy way to moisturize with Shea Butter. I like not having to get my hands all lotioned up after I step out of the shower. I think a few tweaks of the recipe to help increase the longevity of the bars, and these might make it into the permanent recipe file.


Hint of Spring

Here in California, the narcissus has bloomed, and plum blossoms are beginning to give the plum trees a pink misty look as they begin to unfurl. We always say that when the plum blossoms are in full swing, then it snows! In spite of the balmy days we are enjoying now, there will be a few more weeks of blustery coldness coming up in March. So in anticipation of spring, and to encourage us through the last of the gloomy winter days, here is the latest listing at my Etsy shop - Fresh Mint, a leafy green bar with spring written all over it. Not a pure mint scent but a blend of a sporty juniper fragrance with a touch of brisk mint, this bar cheerfully reminds us that winter always, well, leaves!
handmade soap Mint Leaf from Savonara


Shea Butter Scrubs!

I decided to make another batch of shea butter scrubs to offer at my Etsy shop. Although they are not as long-lived as the cocoa butter recipe, I've been using one and it is so nice on my skin, I haven't had to apply any lotion after my shower. The shea sinks in so well and leaves my skin soft. I just couldn't keep them all to myself! This batch has lots of soothing oatmeal as well, so they are a creamy natural color instead of the bright swirls I've done on past scrub bars. I added Blackberry Sage fragrance, and it's the perfect sweet/tart/fresh scent, lingering lightly on my skin after I get dressed. Click on the photo to go get some - Enjoy!
handmade soap scrub bars


The Soap Bar blogs about Savonara

Joanna of Product Body has published a lovely post about my soap at her blog, where she says some very nice things and shares a few photos of bars I did a while back. Thanks for the mention, Joanna, very kind of you. :)
I hope to cross paths with Joanna again soon as I will send a few soaps for review once they are cured.


New and Upcoming

Here is a look at a few things that I am in the process of adding or are curing now for addition to my Etsy shop. From the top left: Orange Patchouli Olive Oil Soap, Shea Butter Scrub Bars (non-soap), Scrubby Pumice Soap, (already listed) and China Rain Original Soap. More on the way soon!
handmade soap orange patchouli olive oil shea scrub pumice

visit Savonara's Etsy Store now


Rebatch Tutorial

Sometimes the "soap fairies" show up and get their sticky little fingers into the process of creating your latest masterpiece, and the result is, well, entertaining (as in the case of my famous ham colored soap, lol) or just plain disappointing. Or, maybe your flurry of soaping activity has resulted in a bin full of trimmings, scraps and end pieces. Whatever the reason, every soapmaker finds themself facing a rebatch now and then. I happen to enjoy the opportunity that a rebatch presents, so I thought I'd share my method of reclaiming those bits and nibs of soap and turning them into something entirely fabulous and interesting.
  1. Choose your scraps - select compatible colors and shades.

  2. Weigh it all out so that you will be overfilling your mold by about a quarter inch.
  3. Have your mold lined and ready.

  4. If your scraps are not all mixed, you have the choice of selecting which will become part of the background blend, and which will be more prominent. Separate the color/s you want to be more distinct, and save them to add at a later step. If the soap scraps are older or very dry, you may want to mist them with water til they are just damp. Newer, softer soap doesn't normally need any water to start.

  5. handmade soap Savonara

  6. Begin melting the soap. Some use a double boiler, but I prefer to microwave the soap. Keep a spray bottle of water at hand and mist the soap after stirring every few minutes.handmade soap Savonara

  7. Continue melting and misting and stirring til the soap slumps off your spatula like thick oatmeal.

  8. handmade soap Savonara

  9. Now you are ready to add any colored shreds that you left out earlier. This is also the time to add fragrance oil if you need to. When you mix in your shreds, they will cool and thicken the soap so it will need to be heated and stirred again.
  10. As soon as the last shreds are well mixed and any fragrance oil is fully blended, drop by spoonfuls into the lined mold. Push it into the corners with your gloved hands. If the soap seems dry when you glop it into the mold, you can mist it a little with water before the next scoop and that will help prevent the individual scoops from creating a seam that separates later. It may help to bump the entire mold on the counter a few times to get the soap settled. Smooth the top as best you can with your hands. It will look very rough.
  11. handmade soap Savonara

  12. Allow the soap to cool overnight.
  13. Unmold and cut the rough top off the loaf, then cut into bars.

Here are a few different rebatch soaps I've done:

handmade soap Savonara

handmade soap Savonara

handmade soap Savonara

Selfish Tinkering!

Well, in honor of spring and the March theme for the Etsy SoapDish street team, "green", I was playing around with green for my latest batch of cocoa butter scrub bars... except that, after all the other ingredients were measured out I realized... no cocoa butter!! Ack. So, rather than order more and wait, I subbed in some shea butter, knowing they'd be softer than normal but with an ulterior motive, considering how much my skin adores shea butter.... the stuff I buy is unrefined, free trade shea - creamy, thick and super active with good things my skin responds to with joy and comfort. Selfishly, I determined if they are too soft to put in my Etsy shop, I'll just have to keep them all, muwaaahaahaa!! No, I'll keep a couple and hand out the rest to friends, lol. If you made it this far reading all my evil musing, here is a meager photographic reward. Don't drool on the screen. I promise I will order some cocoa butter and make some pretty, yummy smelling scrub bars for my shop, really.

Blackberry Sage scented Shea Butter Scrub Bars


Two new soaps for my Etsy shop

On the curing rack now, slated for listing at my Esty shop

Update: these two soaps are now available at my shop!

Lemongrass & Ground Apricot Seed

Unnamed Fresh Linen fragrance soap


Come on over...

To our new Etsy shop, where you can see what is currently in stock and purchase your choice of items.

Savonara's Etsy Shop