Friday, 21 August 2009

Teaching soapmaking

Today I taught four people how to make soap. As I shall be moving house soon (Saturday 5th September, to be precise), I am trying to get rid of some things of which I have too much. One of these things is my oil collection. Much as it would be lovely to put them into storage and get them out again next time I want to make soap, I must accept that these things go off and leak, and that storing them is actually not a very clever plan.

I decided to put an advert on my local swap shop, offering to teach people how to make soap. This was in exchange for chocolate, wine, or loan of a tent next time I go camping (next weekend). I got one bar of chocolate, one tent, and one cake. We made two batches of soap, both of which misbehaved in an annoying way. Next time I teach soapmaking I shall have to make sure that I use a tried and tested recipe!

The first batch was a daffodil one. It was supposed to be moisturising. The soap decided to go all oily in the pan, and had to be attacked with a blender until it decided to play nicely. Alas, it did not trace as it was supposed to, and so I couldn't show this stage to everyone. It behaved in the end, though, and did at least demonstrate what soap looks like when it is ready to be poured into the mould.

Alas, during the proceedings one of the local residents decided that it would be a lovely idea to piss into my back yard. He declared that he would laugh if we noticed him. There is perhaps a small possibility that he was somewhat intoxicated. I am very proud of myself: I resisted the urge to hit him with a stick. My guests were also well-behaved, and refrained from pouring caustic soda on the offending item. Tempting, but ultimately likely to get us arrested.

The second soap was purple. Well, it wasn't purple at all, but it will probably be purple by the time it has finished curing. We put alkanet oil in, which is red.* This then turns purple, or lilac, or whatever it wants to be called. It was a bit over-full in its mould, and a bit came out of the top, but it will be interesting to see what it looks like with a forced flat top - normally I stroke it a bit and hope for the best.

The five of us seemed to get on quite well together - I really hope that we can get together at some point in the future and do some more crafty things together. There were some interesting talents within the group, including spinning. I have promised the remainder of my oils to one of them shortly before I move out (I might want to make more soap before I go, but she can have what's left), and we will meet up again at some point in her house to make another vanilla soap. In the meantime, I am thinking of making a soap which uses the oil infused with vanilla that I have had hanging around for an unfeasibly long time. It would be good to use that.

I had a fun time this evening. Tomorrow is sailing and avoiding being thought of as the sort of person who wants to get into a relationship (hopefully not too tricky, but not pinning too many hopes on that), followed by cutting soap, followed by packing, followed by organ practice (which has been sadly lacking recently, but I figure that I should cut myself some slack). Sunday will be a day of church, then lunch, then looking at a potential new house (could do with getting that sorted before I move out of this house), then packing the car, going to the parents' house and dropping off 1/4 of my remaining possessions (only four more trips in which I can do this), then cleaning out their fridge which will be full of rotting vegetables. Yay. Monday will be organ building work experience, day three. This promises to be fun. I suppose that the last two would only count as fun if you like that sort of thing, but it turns out that so far I do. A career I enjoy may be beckoning me...

*To be a little bit more precise, the alkanet oil is actually olive oil infused with alkanet powder. It starts off looking a little like blood, and then goes purplish when it gets put in something with the same pH as soap, whatever that happens to be. I started to infuse this one in the previous house - it has probably been infusing for something approaching a year now.

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