My Scented Serenity...

Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find the humble musings of a novice Aussie soap and candle maker. I hope you'll join me on my learning journey and feel free to leave comments, give advice and ask questions. I hope to be able to share with you my learnings, and inspire others, as much as so many talented people have inspired me.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Special Soap for a Special Place...

If you've read through any of my other posts on this blog, you would have come across a post where I shared some photos of my (I should say 'our' as my husband loves this place as much as I do!) favourite holiday destination.

Comfort Resort Blue Pacific is located at beautiful Blacks Beach in Mackay, Queensland, Australia and has been our annual holiday destination for more than fifteen years now.  Every year we look forward to getting away, down to Blacks Beach where we can just sit admiring the view of the ocean, right from the resort's beachfront grounds.

It is this place in fact that inspired my very first attempt at a real artisan soap, a soap that carried a theme and depicted something that everyone would recognise at first sight.

After I had gotten quite a few batches of cold processed soap under my belt as a beginner, I felt it was time to start spreading my creative wings so to speak.  This is pretty usual for me.  I often get started in a new craft domain and it isn't long before I'm done with the beginner's kits and looking for a greater challenge! 

So I set out to really test my new soapmaking ability by venturing to create something that represented a place I really love.  And I have to say, I was absolutely amazed at just how pleasing the end result was!

 
 
 
The greenish-blue of the ocean with the deeper swirls reminds me of exactly what we see when we are sitting and relaxing on the beachfront.  The white caps represent just how choppy the ocean can get along our coastline...especially when it is cyclone season and we are subjected to some wild storms.
 
To this day I've been able to closely replicate this design each time I make it with varying swirl patterns and only some slight variation of sea colour.  Some days the water is a little more green than blue, which is pretty close to what one sees with their own eyes on location.
 

 
 
When it came to naming this particular soap, the choice really wasn't difficult...in fact there was absolutely no question what it had to be called.
 
Introducing...
 
~ Blue Pacific ~

 
 

 
Not bad for my first real attempt at a true artisan soap! 
 
Now this little beauty, one of my absolute favourites still to this day, resides happily in the bathrooms of the perfectly located beachfront units at Comfort Resort Blue Pacific!  Guests can experience a little piece of PKM Creations Blue Pacific handmade artisan soap for themselves each time they stay at the resort. 
 
 
 
 
How truly fortunate I am to have found this little piece of paradise!

It's Alive!!

Since starting my new business in the last quarter of 2012, I've been slaving away in the quieter times trying to create my own website.  With our presence at the local markets established and literally a hundred-odd gift boxes floating around our vast country, this was a task that really needed completing.  But, if you've ever attempted this job yourself, you'll understand that it really isn't something to be done in just a couple of hours.
 
Added to the fact that website development is in itself an onerous task, my compulsive, perfectionist nature slowed me up a little more than I could really be comfortable with.  But, with a slower start to the year, I had the perfect opportunity to really knuckle in and get it done.
 
So on May 18 2013, I was finally able to hit that "PUBLISH" button, and have my website go live.
 
The release of PKM Creations represents the culminaton of more than two years worth of planning, decision making, risk taking and plain old hard yakka.  This is now my new career.  A far stretch from teaching primary school children yet a real accomplishment in its own right. 
 
 
 
PKM Creations Website 
 
 
 
I hope you'll stop by and check it out, and let me know what you think of my latest creation.

 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Another Christmas Marathon!

I know, I know...way behind in these posts!  So much to catch up on!
 
I realise I started this year with a post that reflected my progress towards creating a business from my hobbies.  Obviously I didn't get very far with my recount of what happened following September when my new business, PKM Creations, started to make some local appearances.  Well, I hope to catch up a little in this post.
 
I have mixed feelings about the time I chose to kick things into action as far as launching a new business goes.  Instead of easing my way into things, I seem to always take a head-long plunge into the deep end! 
 
As you know, I started participating in some local market days and school fairs as a way to get my products out at a local level.  This was working a treat but at that particular time of the year (September onwards) everyone is starting to gear up for Christmas and of course, one can't be neglectful in terms of special offerings to suit the occasion.  So it was that not only was I just venturing out with my meagre range of products as a new business, so too was I trying to fit the bill by establising something special for Christmas.
 
So, my endeavours focussed on creating gift boxes or pamper packs for Christmas.  Little did I realise I'd soon be in the throes of some major production work!  Yes, that meant...another Christmas Marathon!
 
Not only did I offer to take orders from visitors to our stalls at the various markets, I also had some dear friends and relatives jump on the offer not only for their relatives but as a corporate 'thank you' to clients and staff. 
 
There were some fairly intense days in the workshop (sometimes I find myself referring to it as the sweat shop!!) as I went into mass production for 119 (yes, you read that correctly...no typos here!) pamper packs!  Quite a feat when you have a limited number of soap moulds, candle moulds and very limited space in which to store not only raw ingredients and supplies but also completed product!
 
In the end, I had produced well over 300 candles and 300 bars of soap!  I also had bath bombs, lip balms and sugar scrub cubes thrown in for good measure in some boxes, as well as some glycerine soaps for some of the smaller boxes and those that were themed or geared especially towards their particular recipients.
 
I guess it was a good thing I was confident I could stand up to the challenge! 
 
I'm pleased to say it all ended on a very high note with the challenge met and 119 pamper packs delivered to their lucky recipients well in time for Christmas!
 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
So where did all of these little beauties end up?  All over Australia!  I guess I'm fortunate enough now to say that someone, somewhere, in every state in this vast country of ours, has had a little taste of what PKM Creations has to offer!
 
 
And what did I learn from this little experience?
 
 
Well, good planning is essential...knowing your limits...being confident in your product...having great helpers is always a bonus (!) and being prepared to push yourself  hard to achieve your goals is absolutely necessary.
 
Is this scenario likely to occur again...probably not.  Would I front up for another crack at the challenge if it did...absolutely!
 
I guess we'll just have to wait and see what this Christmas brings!
 
 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Taking a Leap

It seems I haven't managed to keep my promise of becoming a regular blogger...but I do have a great excuse.  Since my last post, things have really ramped up - a lot has happened in such a short time.  But more about that later.
 
So, after experimenting with using goat's milk, I decided I should have a go at a couple of other things on my 'to do' list.  To this point I've only had one attempt at both salt bars and cupcakes, but I know they'll be something I master eventually.
 
I admit I was a little hesitant when it came to making soap cupcakes.  I have never even attempted to ice a cake with a piping bag, let alone using one to pump puffs onto a cupcake made of soap!  But nevertheless, I gave it a go and surprised myself yet again.  My attempt yielded some interesting results given that this was my first attempt at using a piping bag, and having said bag burst at the seam during my piping efforts!
 
~Strawberry & Vanilla Cupcakes~
 
I like to think of these as abstract cupcakes!
 
 

 
 
 
With this experimenting out of the way I launched into preparing a product range to go to the local markets.  I had a huge haul of supplies arrive - both soap and candlemaking supplies - so I was set to go.
 
 


 
 
I spent a couple of months producing, labelling and wrapping to come up with a suitable range and enough stock to kick start my new business.




~Lemon & Poppy Seed Goat's Milk Soap~
Initial soap range

Palm Pillar Candles

Palm Column Candles
 
Soy Mosaics
 
Soy Metro Jars

After a lot of intensive time in the workshop, I had my initial range to go to markets.  A nice combination of luxurious handmade soap, heavenly-scented palm and soy candles and beautiful beaded treasures.
 
 
 
 
Come September, it was time to launch PKM Creations...
 
 
PKM Creations stall
 
Since the first day at the local markets, I've continued to work on developing my range and brand, and have also managed to launch my business page on Facebook.
 
Things were off to a great start, but there was so much more to come!
 
My journey has really just begun...
 
 



Sunday, October 21, 2012

M.I.A & Catch Up!

OMG!!  I just looked at the date of my last post - 28 July!  What happened to August and September?!!
 
I have been MISSING IN ACTION!!
 
Since moving into my new workspace, I've been totally distracted from this whole blogging thing.  I've been having so much fun setting up, arranging and rearranging my craft room that I've kind of forgotten to journal the process.  Oh dear!  I really do have some major catch-up time to log!
 
So, I guess I should fill you in a little on what I've been up to. 
 
If you've read the first post or two on my blog, you would have read about my major side-step from a career as a teaching primary school principal, to basically being self-employed...or at least on a mission to become so.  You also would have gleaned from my posts that I'm a bit of a perfectionist who likes to have things 'just so' and to have things proceed in my own prescribed manner.  I think it's called OCD!!  I'm often told I over-think things and need to learn to just do things without thinking them to death first!  Well, I've been working on it, but I'm afraid it's going to be a rather long and strenuous battle..,with myself!!!
 
Anyway, the plan was, after getting my new workspace created and in effective working order, to start creating and working towards establishing my own little business.
 
Well, that's been happening, but of course, it's not just about creating and maybe selling a few bits and pieces and building things up slowly.  My mental jigsaw just doesn't work like that!  I need to see the whole picture and know where it is I'm headed before laying the first piece down.  So, as you would have guessed, I've not just been working on product development, but of course the whole gamut of things that go with starting a business.
 
However, I won't bore you with a long-winded diatribe of my step-by-step plan to launch my business.  I will however share a few snapshots of my beginning steps...product development.
 
With the plan in mind to use our local markets as a launch pad for my new business, I set out to develop my soap range with a few tried and tested recipes (from my Christmas marathon!) and some new ones.   Funnily enough, I kicked off with something new for me - Goat's Milk.  I actually went back and reviewed my list from a previous post and decided I'd start my new adventure by dabbling in something I had never tried before.  I had been fascinated reading other people's tales about Goat's Milk soap and so decided I'd have a go.
 
Did I mention that I bought my first wooden log mould at Christmas time but hadn't yet had the opportunity to use it?  Well, now was the time.  But of course one has to line it first don't they?  That was another adventure in itself!  Gee how I love YouTube!
 
Not bad for a first try!
 
 
Once that task was out of the way, and all the gear was organised, it was time to suit up and get soapin'!
 


 
 
After reading about others' adventures with goat's milk I was a little edgy about mixing the lye solution and possibly having the ghastly ammonia smell that occurs when the goat's milk overheats.  However it wasn't to be!  Luck was on my side that day and thankfully, with using the milk in frozen form, I ended up with a beautiful creamy texture.
 


So, onwards and upwards!
 
My first-ever Goat's Milk soap  - Lemon & Poppy Seed! 
 



Lemon & Poppy Seed Goat's Milk Soap

 
Off to a great start!  I was so pleased with how this turned out, I just had to try more!  The next effort wasn't quite so great.  In my anticipation to get cracking on another goat's milk soap, I was impatient and didn't quite allow the milk to fully freeze before using it.  With a slushy mix, I attempt another soap but this time my hastiness was rewarded with the bright orange glow and hideous stink from the lye container!  Despite the initial foul smelling concoction, Strawberry Milkshake, complete with dessicated coconut, turned out not so bad. 
 
Strawberry Milkshake
 
As goat's milk is reputed to be good for anyone with sensitive skin, I decided I should have a truly dedicated bar for those who are sensitive to additives such as colourants and fragrances.  So along came a very simple, straight-forward, no-frills addition to my new goat's milk collection.
 
Plain Jane
 
Emboldened by my recent successes with goat's milk, I decided to be really adventurous with my next creation.  With goat's milk, oatmeal and about six tablespoons of organic, unrefined honey, I was really getting into the swing of the whole 'additives' thing!  Meet 'Goat's Oats & Honey'...
 

While this turned out to be a beautifully rich and heavily fragrant soap, I soon came to understand the trials and tribulations of working with goat's milk, and honey for that matter.  I have come to learn about what happens with overheating during the gel phase, and the resulting crumbling that eventuates when cutting the new soap.
 
However, after about three goes at it, I think I have it just right!
 
My first attempt - crumbly bottom but beautiful to use with 6 tablespoons of honey in it!

Modified version with only 3 tablespoons, but no crumbling.
 
 
 
So, I am proud to say that I can now tick off the 'attempt goat's milk soap' note from my list of things to do.
 
I have to say it wasn't as scary as I expected it to be - in fact, I am really enjoying making my little range of four goat's milk soaps.  They are simple, straight-forward  soaps to make but they are so nice to use.
 
Another notch on my soaping belt!
 
This is just the beginning of the list of things I've been wanting to try, and of what I've been up to in my new workshop. 
 
Now I need to add 'become a regular blogger' to the list of things to do!
 
Until the next post...in the not-too-distant-future!
 
Happy suds and bubbles!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Transformation...Complete!

Welcome to my new craft studio...












Now that I have a new workshop, and a great view, it's time to get busy!  Time to get crafting!

With an area dedicated to beading, an area for planning, a spot for relaxing and some serious thinking, and my work table set up for soap and candlemaking, where does one start?  Hmmm, decisions, decisions....