Monday, November 20, 2006


Remember the Rhassoul and Rose soap set? Two little bars of soap, one loaded to the fins with rhassoul clay of the chunky variety; the other, much smaller, overflowing with real rose otto and creamy shea butter. Both appeared hand molded, as if Ana had taken each piece and rolled it between her fingers until she'd created eggs of soapy heaven. And they were stamped ~ back then, no one stamped soap but Ana. Now everyone stamps.

How about the scrubby bar? The big, fat one at 7 or 8 oz, made almost entirely of raw, unrefined shea, scented with spearmint and packed with ground walnut hulls. Man!

Ana defined artisan soapmaking. No one does it quite the way she did.


  1. Sweet Suede2:24 AM

    Oh Sistah you are so right, nobody made (or makes) soaps like Ana did. There are some pretty great soapers out there, but none (as to my limited sampling experiences) have reached Anas level of exellency. Ack - I miss her and I miss the BLM group :-( Lucky us we have LPR and each other though:-)

  2. Ana infused her creations with magic ~ and I'm not talking about vodou, hoodoo, white witch magic ~ just Ana's own special inborn magic that came through in everything she presented. Yeah, I miss her too. I think if she had stuck around and evolved with the natural & botanical perfumery movement, she would have taken the artform by storm.

  3. I miss Ana. It's because of her that people even know what rhassoul clay is...

  4. Anonymous3:58 PM

    Ana is what legends are made from. . .

  5. Is this Anastasia Crabtree?

    Are there any cached interweb records of her work? Because I like to torture myself with things I cannot have...

  6. Alas, all vestiges of her work is gone gone gone. They finally took down her page in the portfolio at Fallen Muse Webworks, even.

    Ana was known for going all out with raw materials and just going with what moved her, not really paying much attention to cost and not terribly concerned with how the products would be received. She had a body butter named 'Gnarly Bitch' if that gives you any idea ;) I dunno if Tonie is here reading, but she reviewed Ana's stuff a coupla times over at

    Ana did stuff with perfumery ingredients, putting them into soap, that made my wallet totally shriek in horror, but that kind of freed up soap from the conventions of 'you need to be able to replicate this stuff inexpensively if you wanna stay in this business'. She got her inspiration from Woodspirit Soaps in part, but totally left them in the dust.

  7. Maggie8:18 PM

    I'm of two minds when it comes to soap - part of me just wants something basic and very gentle, where the focus is on skincare rather than the scent, while the other half wants that to be as indulgent an experience as anything else. I love the idea of someone using soap as a literal medium for olfactory art.

    The closest thing I've seen to that is Voda soaps.

    Why did Aan end up leaving the field?

  8. She not only left the field ~ she left the country.

    I guess where she's living now does not afford her the convenience of selling her products online. Maybe some day she'll come back.

  9. FYI

    Ana published little booklets with her recipes in them I think twice a year. A few people 'out there' have copies, and if they're smart, they'll use them once in a while, for inspiration, of nothing else.

    Ana also taught soapmaking via telephone for $50. Laura Obert-Thorne was one of her students, which is why there's a post here about Laura's work. Her soaps were just as magnificent as Ana's, and she also took inspiration from Woodspirit soaps. Laura came closest to reproducing what Ana did than any other soapmaker whose products I've used. That sandalwood amber soap she made was a knockout ~ but now even Laura's stopped.

  10. Maggie, there's also the possibility of soap being a ritual implement, and I think that's something these gals really tapped into.

    You can be the prima materia that is transformed in some fashion, and the soap can be part of that process.

    But I tend more towards practicality myself in that regard, even. If I'm going to make a ritual-use soap, which I have a coupla times, a lot of effort goes into it besides the ingredients, and that makes me loathe to sell it.

  11. Maggie8:26 AM

    I wonder if she'll eventually come back. I'd love to try some of these soaps. And Laura's (from the other post), as well.

    Sara, I see what you mean about ritual-use soap. Generally I find using materials like absolutes and rare EOs in a wash-off product a little wasteful (in comparison to a butter or perfume), but they are priceless when it comes to setting a mood, be it mundane or arcane.

  12. Anonymous8:23 PM

    Ana was a genius, and it was my pleasure to do business with her for so many years when she made soap for my company in los angeles, the former "glow'.

    i miss her insights about the craft, her oatmeal-mint soap, and mostly the hours long conversations we would have about everything from midwestern family life to bathing in rose-scented water.



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