Monday, 20 August 2012

Wintergarden Design Market - August 2012

The market is held upstairs in the gallery
I had a wonderful market at the Wintergarden Design Market on Sunday. Most of these were taken early before the customers were around

Watch out for more information, as they are thinking of having a pre Christmas market in November.

The cafe downstairs was flat out all day.

I struggle to fit everything on a six foot table as I'm used to working a larger outdoor site.

Handmade glass cufflinks.

Wonderful Australian hand felted wool.

Busy with a customer.

One of a kind upcycled dresses.

Crocheted sea creatures fluttering in the breeze though the window.

Smiling stall holders

Chainmaile by Maille Fantasy eery single link in these is joined by hand.

More information on the market can be found through

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Point Lonsdale Market

I grabbed my camera to take along to the Point Lonsdale Market today. I needed a couple of shots of my stall for a couple of market applications and didn't have current ones. Point Lonsdale market is a mixed market with a load of locally made and grown products.

While I was there a snapped a few shots of the market early in the morning while everyone was setting up. I thought I'd share a few of them. Watch out in the next month or two the Point Lonsdale market will be moving back onto the original grounds and the indoor stall holders into the new building. I'm rather exicted about that.

Some of my soap photos.
 A few of the stalls setting up. Local honey, olive oil, fresh bread and lots more.
Delicious rhubarb has been so good this winter. I love rhubarb and apple crumble
The biggest fruit and vegetable stall of any of the markets I do.

Happy stall holders setting up.

These guys have lots of unusual herb plants and lots of spices and herbal teas to buy.

What more could any little girl want new clothes for their dolls.

I couldn't resist taking a shot of all these colourful flax plants at one of the many plant stalls there.
 Colourful shoes I love this bright yellow tent. It makes me smile every time I see it.

There are lots of clothes at the market too. This bright red cloak took my eye.

Fresh bread my family love the Turkish bread from here.

Indoors in the school. If you haven't ventured indoors you should sometime. Today there was handmade cakes, fudge, local artists, handmade candles, cards, my soap, teddies, jewellery and more inside.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Soap - To Package or not?

Every now and then I get asked why do I package my soap at all.

This was one thing I tossed up when I first set up my business. Legally all cosmetics have to to have the ingredients available at point of sale. 

One of the things I always wanted was to have the ingredients listed fully for allergy sufferers, to be able to check if they were given my soap as a gift. This meant I needed to attach the ingredients to the soap somehow. So for me totally naked soap wasn't an option for this reason alone.

Simple cigar bands made out of paper or light cardboard are the easiest way to do this. I initially trialled cigar bands when I started selling soap. But apart from the fact that as soap continued to cure and shrink a little the bands would become loose and fall off - very annoying. This option also offered little in the way of protecting the soap from the environment.

Simple protective packaging cellophane bags
 with paper labels
I'm now using genuine cellophane bags (not the "cello" polypropylene bags that are often sold) to enclose the soap in. This packaging protects the soap from the environment extending its life. This packaging is produced from cellulose so is from renewable sources. It's totally biodegradable. It is allows water vapour to move through it preventing soap sweating. But cellophane excludes the passage of oxygen into the soap preventing oxidation and degradation of the soap over time. The scents also don't pass through the packaging well either so the soap retains its scent much longer.

How can packaging protect the soap?

1. The correct packaging helps retain the scent in the soap a lot longer. Essential oils and other fragrances are comprised of volatile chemicals (natural or otherwise depending on what is used to scent your soap). You can smell them as the chemicals are gradually evaporating from the soap. I found that the packaging I'm using now means the soap retains it's scent about 3 times as long as unpackaged soap. The downside is that it's harder to smell what the soaps scent is like through the packaging

2. Oxidation.
Soap is made from fats and oils and like these may eventually oxidise or go rancid. This may take weeks or many, many years depending on a large number of variables.

These variables includes which are oils used in manufacturing the soap. Those that have a short shelf life in the kitchen have a shorter shelf life in the soap too. I've avoided short shelf life oils in my soap for this reason.

Some additives or contaminants can increase the problem, iron and some colorants may do this. Choosing the colours carefully and using distilled or rainwater (my choice) instead of town water is useful.

Added antioxidants can help prevent oxidation the most common additive in commercial soap is the chelator ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA). This works well but has some potential environmental issues to to its stability in the environment. I don't use EDTA or any other added antioxidants preferring to avoid oxidation other ways .

How dry the atmosphere is. Free moisture sitting on the surface of the soap in warm humid spots will promote oxidation. I'm talking about stored soap not soap in use, where there is a fresh layer of soap being constantly produced. Packaging that soap can sweat in accelerates the problem.

Light can accelerate the process.

BUT the one thing that absolutely must be present for oxidation to take place is oxygen. So packaging that excludes this is ideal.

3. Colorants fading.
Whether or not to use light excluding packaging is an interesting one. I'm not as I like to be able to display the swirls and colours of the soap I produce. But it does mean that eventually some of the colours I use may fade if exposed to bright light. Indigo, annatto and paprika extracts will do this.

4. Personal hygiene.
True soap is actually a very, very poor medium for bacteria to grow on. However having soap packaged means that if it is being handled in a retail environment that it's not ending up covered in grime and viruses that might otherwise be deposited there.