Sunday, April 03, 2016

Gastroenteritis and 36,000 Milligrams of Vitamin C

So, that's what I've been doing the past two days, lying in bed with a horrendous headache, fever, stomach cramps, and other nasty things. But I have successfully managed to shove down 36,000 milligrams of vitamin C in three days' time in an effort to shut this crap down. And I think it might be working. I still feel a little woozy, but the headache is mostly gone, the feverishness has stopped, the stomach isn't so touchy, and the other nasty stuff has ceased. I'm sure FOOD will help once I get some in as I haven't eaten anything but a cup of soup (literally, 8 ounces) since Friday. On an up note, I'm only three or four more bouts of gastroenteritis away from my optimal weight.

One of my good online friends, Joseph DeLapp, has been named a finalist in the Art and Olfaction Awards. We all get to find out if he's won in May. I think the A&O Awards are perhaps the most legitimate for indie and artisan perfumers than any other awards, namely the FIFI's. Someday I hope to create something I feel confident enough to enter. There is hope. It just isn't going to happen today.

I finally cut the two loaves of tea shop soap -- and discovered that the little red pods (which I thought were weird potpourri things) in the butterscotch tea blend are actually pink peppercorns. Now, why would someone put pink peppercorns in butterscotch tea? I've tasted this tea and it has more of a chai feel to it, so that's got to be the answer. It's another type of chai. Overall, I'm pleased with how these two have turned out. Next week I hope to be working on the other two (or is it three?) tea shop soaps, which will prove a bit easier to manipulate than these two were. Russian Caravan is smoky and dark, and Cinnamon Fig is cinnamony (though very slightly) and dark fruit.

I have this soapmaking class coming up on April 23 and people are already concerned about the price. It's $65 for instruction, and includes a $16 booklet and a bar of finished soap (because the soap we make in class won't be ready for four weeks . . .) I run into this all the time. And I understand it, too, I mean, it has to be worth it in the long run, right? If you're learning because you want to make soap for yourself, you're probably better off reading a bunch of books and watching online tutorials, but if you're interested in starting a business or making lots of soap to give away as gifts to friends, family, and maybe even charities, then an in-person class is the better option. You can ask your teacher questions; a book won't answer, and neither will a YouTube video. And a teacher will show you how to cut through all the mistakes first-timers make. The bottom line is this; if you learn from books and tutorials, you're more likely to spend wads more money slogging through problems than you would had you just spent the $65. I know this from experience. No one was teaching soapmaking when I learned through books, and more books, and dozens and dozens of failed batches of soap. I probably spent $1500 the first year I made soap and didn't have but maybe five or six batches of viable soap to show for it. Yeah, I'm a slow learner, but I am also an avid experimenter, and that may have gotten me into more trouble than was necessary. That first year, I vividly remember spending hours in the garage/studio poring over five or six batches of soap at a time, formulating new scents, mixing different base oils, adding strange herbs, and listening to Dave Matthews, my constant soapmaking companion. I remember thinking I had a nice batch and then trying to sell it to a shop in downtown Clovis, CA, and the lady literally crinkled her nose and held up her hands as if she were being robbed. Yes, friends, they were that bad. Ashy, smelling a little bit sulphuric from all the natural non-eo stuff that was in there (this goes away, you learn, as the soap ages), and they were poorly molded and badly wrapped. Basically, they were crap.

I make great soap now, and on occasion, due to distraction mostly, a poor batch. It is an art and should be treated as such.

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