Thursday, November 14, 2013

Photographing White Lotion Bottles

This morning's project was a new picture for my Etsy banner and Facebook page. The struggle has been that I usually photograph on a white background. That worked well for my other Etsy shop, Mulberry Junction, but not so well with my white lotion bottles.

In the picture below you can see how I do my photography for most of my products. I built this light box with some carboard boxes, white fabric, white paint and spray on glue. I use it next to the window you can see in the picture and then add light with my halogen work lights. 

Today, as you can see in this picture, I pinned green fabric to the backdrop to make my white jars and bottles stand out more. I added some color with calendula flowers and threw in some peppermint and a comfrey leaf, all herbs I use in my lotions and balms.

Any thoughts on improving the picture? How do you make your online pictures stand out? Do you have any photography tips to share?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What is Castille Soap

This is the batch of Castile soap I'm in process of packaging right now. Castile soap is a simple soap that is made with olive oil. Although the history of Castile goes way back, it is believed that the soap was first made in Castilla, Italy. This makes sense when you understand that in that area they grow olives and have easy access to the oil. Evidently at a time when the rest of Europe was using rendered animal fats to make soap, the soap in this part of Italy was made from olive oil. Eventually it became the popular soap for the rich all over Europe.

The nice thing about a soap made with olive oil is that it's mildness. This fabulous oil has many properties that should make it an oil of choice, not only in the kitchen, but for our skin. Because of it's mildness it is a perfect soap to use for babies and others with sensitive skin. The squalane in olive oil helps it absorb easily and quickly into the skin. The high content of oleic acid  gives olive oil humectant properties, meaning that it pulls in the moisture from the air. The oleic acid also help the skin to regenerate. Overall it's an amazing oil for the skin.

Soap made from olive oil makes a fine, creamy lather. If you expect large bubbles, you may be disappointed. But if you want a gentle soap that pampers your skin, it doesn't get better than Castille.

The soap that is pictured above also has goat milk added in place of the water. This makes it even more luxurious. 

What properties do you like in a bar of soap? Feel free to comment.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Castor Oil Bubbles

When I re-batched the soap I talked about in yesterday's post, I learned something.

I needed to add the oil I'd forgotten to add when I first made the soap. I was initially going to use avocado, but had recently read something that reminded me that castor oil helps give great lather. When I read this it reminded me that years ago when I made shaving soap that was one of the key ingredients. So just for fun I decided to see what would happen if I added half castor oil as the superfatting oil and half jojoba.

Do you see the bubbles above. This was what happened after I poured the soap in molds and filled the crock pot with water. What a fabulous lather.

Now I can't wait to use the soap.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Saved Soap Batch

Several months ago I made a batch of soap and forgot to put the avocado oil in at the trace stage to superfat my soap. This is a pretty important step if you want a soap that is mild and not lye heavy. I don't really want to be making "Grandma's scary lye heavy soap". The sad thing is that it smells so good and I'd love to try it.

Frustrated I left the batch to cure, not knowing how I was going to fix the problem. At some point I decided it would probably work to re-batch it by melting the soap down with some water and adding the missing oil into it. Yesterday I tried it. I grated the bars of soap into the crock pot, added water and the missing oil and patiently stirred it for a couple hours while it melted to a liquid consistency. 

Once it was all mixed together I let it cool and harden til it was a good consistency to mold with my hands. Then I formed it into a ball around a rope. I just molded it with my hands. I also tried pressing the soap into a mold with the rope in the middle. 

The ball is kind of fun, but I quickly decided to remelt it and pour it into molds. The bars look and smell great (Cool Water fragrance). I'm looking forward to trying it out after they cure and harden again.

I'm crazy about the Cool Water fragrance. Do you have a favorite fragrance? Share it with us.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Growing Comfrey

Comfrey is one of my favorite herbs to use in my herbal balm. It is known to help regenerate skin cells, making it a great plant to promote healing. The caution with comfrey, or any product containing the plant, is that you must be sure a wound is clean before using it. You wouldn't want to promote healing and find that you had healed contaminants into the wound. 

I've struggled to grow comfrey as nice as at our previous home. I really think it is a struggle to keep it with enough water to thrive. So this year I have tried something new with the comfrey. I took my small struggling plants from the front yard and figured I'd plant them in the garden, in a spot where I new I was watering the plants in the grow box consistently. There was an open spot of ground right next to the grow box that was getting watered and it seemed worth trying.

I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that my struggling little comfrey plants has divided into many new plants. So instead of three plants in a new spot I have about ten. And they are doing so well in their new home with all that space and consistent watering.

I'm pretty excited to make some great herbal balms with some of these leaves.