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