Thursday, August 04, 2016

Happy 20th Soap Making Anniversary to Me!

When I returned home from teaching the soap class last Saturday, I had 7 orders waiting for me to fill. It seems like that always happens. I'll be home for days on end without a single order, then the moment I leave, boom! I get bombarded. I come home exhausted and the exhaustion continues as I wrap and package and seal and post all the goodies to the far corners. I'm grateful, don't get me wrong, but it's tiring to work outside of the home and then come home to more work. This repeated experience has kind of turned me off of getting a 'real' job. I've done this before, the real job and the dream job at the same time and the dream job suffered immensely due to lack of attention. I'm lucky that now the dream job has somewhat bridged the gap and become the real job. So I guess I should probably stop complaining about it, huh?

I ordered the 8-gallon steel distillation unit yesterday and they've already shipped it. I initially thought I was getting a 10-gallon, but I mixed up the information a bit -- the copper unit was a 10-gallon, but I opted out of that because it required welding and whatnot and I'm not equipped. Maybe I'll get the copper next time, when I expand the distillation part of the business. I also had a heating element added to the unit, but I might not use it all the time. There are some really great stand-up propane burners meant for outdoor cooking that would work perfectly and be less of a pain in the butt what with temperature controllers being required on the heating element -- controllers that are not included in the package but that I have to somehow track down and make work. I'm actually half-owner of the new unit with my long-time sister-friend, Shannon, who grows these stunning rows of white sage, musk sage, and sometimes lavender. We're intent on getting that sage distilled, and then maybe later in the year planting some bulbs -- tuberose and hyacinth -- for enfleurage/pommade/extraction purposes, and maybe some hydrosol. We're also looking at distilling some conifers and maybe some citrus blossoms. Our goal is for hydrosol mostly and essential oil if possible. Oh, and I'm working on getting some distillations of frankincense going -- papyrifera, sacra, and maybe some super rare, super expensive stuff from Socotra; distilled for hydrosol, some oil, and then using the washed resin (sans gum now) for medicinal purposes since the boswellic acid doesn't wash away with the water/distillation process. Basically distillation purifies the resin so that the gum washes away into the hydrosol/oil and leaves the pure resin, which is much easier to work with and contains all the medicinal properties people are looking for. So literally nothing will go to waste with a frankincense distillation. Hopefully I won't blow the still this time as I've done nearly every time in the past when I put frankincense into the pot. The new still will also help with the blossoming spagyrics experiments I'm planning on conducting over the next few months. Wish me luck as I may have just begun a new and potentially bumpy roller-coaster ride obsession.

I've also made an executive decision to create just one perfume a year. One well-worked-out and (hopefully) gorgeous perfume per 12 months as I find when trying to put out too many (unless inspiration hits, directs, demands, and forces something to life) that the work suffers overall. I'm not being lazy, promise. Perfume creation takes so much concentration and mental (sometimes emotional) effort that killing myself year after year with three or four new and mediocre perfumes just isn't worth it. I want the time and expense of creating perfume to actually produce something worthy. Not that my former works haven't been good -- just rushed, maybe, and perhaps not finessed enough, or perhaps I'm just being super hard on myself, as usual, and now I should just shut up about it.

Over the past few months I've been inspired by natural medicinals like balms and ointments and liniments. This takes me way back to the beginning of my journey here with herbal infusions and smelly things, when the focus was more on results than hedonism. I think I'm coming to a balancing point in this gig where I'm combining these elements to create good medicine with good scent.

And one more thing, I realized at the soap class as I was introducing myself that I've been making soap for 20 years, since July of 1996, when I made my first beef tallow and lavender soap. Twenty years. Wow. It seems like yesterday that I filled the house with the rancid stench of boiling bovine kidney fat and enjoyed the texture of a fully cured and curled, semi-beige, hard-as-a-rock bar of cow fat and lavender soap.

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