Friday, July 27, 2012

Hanging Soap Boxes

I'm calling this new soap tote a Hanging Soap Box, due to its 3D shape and boxed corners. I also changed the closure so they have a notched flap and a tuck strip instead of velcro.  Less sewing!

Hanging soap box with 3" diameter soap
I created a new section on my website for them:
They are not currently available on Etsy, only on my own website at this time.

I'm only using the square cutout mesh for these at the moment. The squarish font for the silver-colored soap decal was selected to coordinate with the square mesh. Unity within the design!
Front view, closed

Back, closed, showing closure system
Side view

I like how the drying mesh is held out and open so as to be easier to receive the soap.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I have been busy in my studio making a bunch more soap totes. I have a new design that I'm excited to launch, as well as a new online venue to list with. When the meshes are cut out, a lot of confetti-like chads are left over. I once thought to bag it and sell it as reusable confetti, but I didn't really want to bother with doing that.   

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shampoo Bar

Well I always wanted to learn how to make soap. For my first attempt, I made a lemongrass-scented shampoo bar with a recipe from Also pictured is my latest design for the soap tote, designed with thicker, larger soap bars in mind.

My goals for soapmaking are twofold. One is to have soap to sell along with my soap totes. I think that would make a neat, all-in-one gift. Just add a bow! Plus the "packaging" is reusable after the soap is used up. 

Another goal is to learn how to make soap and shampoo bars suitable for use on the guaifenesin protocol. I was bored with the soap options available to me and decided to learn how to make soap. Standard soapmaking oils like coconut and olive oil have to be changed to ones that don't have salicylates, as they are absorbed through the skin, blocking the effectiveness of the guaifenesin.   For those who are interested, the allowable oils are corn, rice, rye, oat, wheat, and soy. Not allowed are common soapmaking oils like olive, castor and coconut oils.  The protocol works for me  -- I've been on it and benefitting from it for 4 1/2 years now -- and I'd like to keep it working by using only the allowable oils.  But if you put forth that question on a soap making forum, you get more than a few dissenting opinions, I'm just sayin'. However, I will continue to heed this warning "Salicylates are readily absorbed through the skin and intestine when introduced from medications and supplements including plant oils, gels and extracts. Individual genetics determine ease of blocking but all patients should assume a high level of susceptibility and take no risks." So, I will be doing some experimenting to see if I can make a shampoo bar that has only the allowable oils.

I had some bloopers with my first batch of soap. My soap got stuck in the PVC pipe mold, but released a day later. Soup can + rubber mallet = splat! Overall it was a successful experiment.

SKU numbers

I'm preparing to get my products onto an additional online venue. They want SKU numbers. SKU stands for shop keeping numbers. This is going to require some thought as to what scheme I'm going to use.

So I logged all of my products and I'm thinking about that. Since all of my products look unique unless they are made of a solid color tarp, they will each need unique numbers.

On this spreadsheet I put pictures onto the description by formatting the comment code to a picture. When I mouse over the cell, I see a picture of the product.

Update: well, they stopped responding to my emails. If an ethical business does that, are they still an ethical business?

Tarp Cutting test

I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but it makes sense when you are testing a vinyl to do a cutting test to see how many passes it takes before the vinyl is cut all the way through. It is such a pain when the cut is incomplete because you have to put a lot more time into the piece to get the pieces (chads) out, and then that can leave a fibrous hole.

The photo shows results on a test tarp for one, two, and three passes. In this case, the 3-pass cutting test is the best. No hanging chads like in a Florida election. Some tarps you can get lucky and only have to cut once or twice to get a decent result. This is with the highest pressure, fastest speed and deepest blade depth.

If I was going to cut a bunch of items out of the same piece of tarp I might experiment with the other settings such as speed. But I usually get bored working with just one color and I go by my experience.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Making a Shampoo Bar

I thought I would try my hand at making a shampoo bar. It seems to me that a soap tote plus a shampoo bar would be an ideal gift-giving combination. I was able to find the oils I needed for the recipe I'm using at Community Natural Foods in Calgary. 

I'm going to use a proven recipe for now and I'd like to develop different soap recipes later. I am on the guaifenesin protocol for fibromyalgia and I could not use this kind of shampoo bar long-term, because common soap-making oils contain salicylates and they block the action of the guaifenesin. So another goal down the road is to make soap and shampoo bars that are sal-free.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hanging Soap Box design

I have been thinking lately about how to make soap totes for thicker soap bars and shampoo bars.  This because I have been thinking that perhaps the soap tote needs to be sold along with a shampoo bar, making the combination a slam dunk for gift giving and travel.  And shampoo bars are made thicker in their shapes, I am observing. I'm even looking into shampoo bar recipes to make and sell along with the soap tote.

One of my early Soap Tote designs was a boxy shape. I have decided to revisit that design, and I'm nearing completion of that task.  I used the tips in this tutorial to get the box corners instead of sewing a bunch of pieces together like I did before.

It will feature a boxy shape for both the upper part of the bag and for the drying mesh. As you can see in the photo, the mesh bag is held in an open position, which makes it easier to drop the soap into after use.  I'm happy with the proportions and I'm ready to start producing these for sale.

Adhesives for Cricut Expression Cutting Board

After some time, the cutting mats for the Cricut Expression loses its stickiness. Here are my favourites for restoring adhesiveness so that the vinyl stays stuck to the cutting mat.

The UHU brand of glue stick works for vinyl. I apply it all over the cutting sheet and smooth it out with a putty knife. When it dries the adhesiveness can be reactivated with water.  (UHU doesn't work for cutting paper though, the paper will undesireably stick to the mat.) I tried another brand of glue stick from the dollar store and it didn't work as well for vinyl tarps, so I prefer the UHU brand.

The other adhesive I like is Aleen's Tack-it Over & Over. This adhesive keeps a tacky surface for a long time. I don't know if is good for cutting paper with the Cricut Expression, since I don't use my machine to cut paper. (In fact, scrapbooking is one of the last crafts on earth I would ever be interested in. I did it for my kids using digital photographs and microsoft Word for when my babies were small, but after that, no way!)

New Closure on Soap Tote

On my last custom job for a client, the design I used had a "tuck strip." That's what I'm going to call it because I don't know if that type of closure has a formal name.

It occurred to me that this type of closure would work on the Soap Tote. So I gave the traditional model of soap tote a makeover, tinkering with other elements as well. Now it has even less sewing but the same basic design. More efficient for me to make, and perhaps a better and neater way to close it up, since the more sewing, the more potential to sew crooked or have my sewing machine decide to be all sensitive and oversew or some such thing.