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Posts Tagged ‘Soap Shop’

It has been a long haul.  An entire winter of work and (what seemed like) a very quick summer.

We began wiring the soap studio, the first time the property ever had electricity, in December.  We would arrive early in the day to face -5 degree temperatures, trying to feed a large electrical cable into conduit.  It simply would not bend. We would arrive again later in the evening, again -5 degrees, to find the cable would not flex at all.  We clearly remember the day the temperature climbed to 10 degrees.  The cable flexed.  My husband was standing outside on a 30′ ladder, with me inside the barn (on a ladder almost 30′ leaning against the open rafters).  10 degrees allowed us to fish the electric lines through conduit into the breaker box.  Celebration! We called the power company with no hesitation, POWER US UP!

That was the beginning of transforming the little red pole barn, that used to house a tractor on a gravel floor, to a framed in little red soap house with windows, a concrete floor, a lot of insulation, and beautiful interior white steel walls (and my wish to leave two original wood beams exposed).

We are nearing the finish of the new soap workshoop.  Soon to rearrange the stainless steel kitchen fixtures that I purchased from a Cincinnati school auction 6 months ago to a very workable soap studio!

Below is a section of the front area that we will keep on reserve, with plans to turn into a storefront, open 1-2 days a week.  Too many folks have called in for a visit to the farm/soap studio.  They need to be able to come on down to Annie’s Little Red Soap Shop!

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Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps is not folding, we are moving to flat land.

The red barn, pictured above, will be the new soap shop.  I have a wonderful large room to work from now.  The new shop will more than double that space.  Windows will be added, as well as a floor (likely concrete) for the front porch.  I turn pretty much everything into a county look.  This will be no exception.

The land includes no slopes, no pond, and some lovely paths to walk in the woods.  Abundant pasture for the goats is something I am truly excited about.  I cannot wait to see the herd stretching out. 

Bear with me as we go through this major change.  The shop will be completed first, to ensure there are no breaks in business.  We need to place a home and a barn as well.  It will be a big job, but one I have a lot of patience for.  It has been needed for quite some time!

I look forward to writing to you from under my porch roof, in between soap making.  Listening to the wind, the birds, and other beautiful gifts from nature as they pass by.

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Country Home Crafts Display

This week I restocked gift sets in a retail store where I sell products, Country Home Crafts in Hillsboro, Ohio. 

In July I posted photos of my soap making studio here and here, today I want to share with you photos from the retail shop.  Much to my disappointment the camera on my phone was being stubborn!

Country Home Crafts is a wonderful rustic/country shop.  They make primitive furniture on the premises, made to order, with many pieces on display as well.  In addition to the furniture, a handful of crafters, like myself, place their beautiful handcrafted handbags, candles, and linens.

The top photo in this post is located on the left side of my display.  Notice the Christmas gift tags on the sets.  I am adding a few additions for the holidays to my packaging this year, such as, red and green raffia, Christmas gift tags, and in some cases red or green tissue paper.  Very simple, pretty.  Want a laugh? I am horrible with tissue paper! I am much better with excelsier and pretty bows and ties! When I use tissue paper in a gift set, I stand back and look at my work and wonder, did a 5 year old do that? Not my cup of tea!

The next photo (below) is the hutch I originally started my product display in, and still do. 

 Goat Milk Soap Display

Below is the right side of my display area.  My products are worked in with quaint hand towels, quilted and heritage printed linens, and rustic/country bathroom accessories.  A bit messy in this photo…but the holiday switch over (decorating) is under way as I write.  I love the rustic bench, crates, and enamel dish pans. 

Country Home Crafts Display II

I thought you might enjoy seeing my section of the store.  I have been at this retail location now for 9 months.  It was the first place I wanted to get into, and am very proud to be a part of their shop.  It is rustic, quaint, country, and beautiful.  Love it.

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Part 2 of the Soap Shop Tour…this would not be possible without my dear husband.  Last summer he worked hard to get the new work area prepared.  He shored up the old garage (the roof and walls sagged like they were smiling), insulated, wired, drywalled, sanded and painted, and then he made tables (all are filled with storage shelves), and the list goes on.  I utilize each space in the room, and honestly, I need to move up the walls…space has filled up fast.

The mold and cut table.  I line the wooden molds with freezer paper and the batches of molded soap rest on the table for 24 hours.  Then I remove the soap log from the mold and cut the soap into bars at this cutter.  My husband designed the cut equipment, making the cutter from a piece of stainless steel that he polished.  He insisted on making it, not buying it.  He did well.

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More supply shelves…over the make table…and the much loved microwave!

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The make table.  I always line with fresh newspaper before I begin working.  I keep a large 45 gallon collection bin in the shop.   I also cover the base oil area floor with newspaper (a concrete floor is messy).  As soon as I finish working, I roll up the newspaper from the work areas and toss in the bin…presto, clean up is done!!

I use stainless steel pots for the oils, and as many stainless steel and restaurant quality utensils as I can.  It helps get the job done that much more efficiently.

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The weigh area.  Each ingredient in a recipe is weighed precisely as it is manufactured.  And each piece of mail is weighed here as well.

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Buckets and bottles of base oils…used for lotions and soaps.

Soap Shop Tour 016This is the oil heating area (when not using the microwave).  I have a back up camp stove on top as well.  To the right is lye/milk cooling for the soap I was preparing to make during the photo session.  I keep the lye/milk in an area where splashes do not cause damage (and believe me, I splash).  Notice, I keep the lye mixture sitting low enough so that if it were to splash on me, or if it were knocked over (I hope not), minimal injury or damage would occur. 

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This is my lotion storage area.  I do not hold a large stock of lotion products because I prefer to ship them out fresh, or nearly fresh, with a “best used” date of one year from the manufacture date.

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Several people have asked me about the soap room/studio…so I am going to provide a guided tour.  I took a string of photos that circled the room perfectly…however…wouldn’t you know, the worst photo of all was determined to load up first! So…with a sense of humor, we are going to start the soap room tour with a photograph of a freezer.  Ha ha ha!

This is a commercial freezer that stores bottles of goat milk for upcoming kid goats, frozen milk for soap (pre-measured), and has just a little room left for me to use when I need to cool oils in a hurry (when soap crafting).  The blue boxes contain my sterile bottles, pumps, sample jars and bottles, lids, and jars.  On the top right is my light box, used as a make shift photography studio.  You can barely see it, but I have a thermometer hanging on the shelve.  For product preservation, I closely monitor the temperature of the room (74 degrees), and I have a de-humidifier sitting along the wall as well (set at 65 percent). 

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This is my curing rack system.  Notice, it is not very full at the moment (which is scary to me).  Because I am out of storage room, I have been putting soap storage boxes on the shelves as well.

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This is my original “filing” system for storing soap bars (numbered and separated by scent/type).  My storage boxes are beginning to spread throughout the room (part of the need to cut down the varieties to 25 soaps!).

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This is where I intended for the soap shop tour to begin! When you come in the door this cabinet is the first item to your right.  The original use for this cabinet was to display completed products on top and to store fragrances in the bottom.  Again, the soap boxes have spread out all over parts of the room (I refuse to buy more shelving)!

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The bottom of the display case is where I store many of my fragrance and essential oils.  I generally stock about 75 fragrances.  The pattern these days is fragrance purchases in no less than 8 ounce bottles, generally bottles that weigh a pound.  So…similar to the soap boxes, this area no longer holds all of the fragrances.  Fragrances and essential oils must be stored in a cool area, away from fluorescent and direct (sun) light.

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And this photo was to end the tour (yes!!!) at the shipping/thinking desk.  This area houses the most important items, like, my coffee pot, CD player, etc…seriously, the area holds recipes, office supplies shipping materials, labels and my trusty planner goes with me everywhere I go when I am at home working (and that is seriously)…you can call this area my office away from my “real” office.

I hope you enjoyed the tour…please sit down with a cup of java…so we can chat a spell.  🙂

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How is everyone? I am fine, great, happy…even though I still cannot arrange the photos within my blog again today…I am being tested!
I worked today…yes…I know, it is Sunday. The husband went to visit his tutor for assistance with an exam that he is re-taking this week and I decided to catch up a bit more in the soap shop while he was out.
I love the photo of the new Yuzu fragranced goat milk soap. I think my phone took a good shot of it. I took a new mug shot for the lotions. I’ll work on it again. Gone are the kraft labels. As much as I would have liked to make them work they simply had no stickability (I made that word up, it might exist though). Uh huh.
Lotions are my focus this week. Even though I leave the lotions on the website, they never show a back order, I can tell you, especially this week. I was sold out! Very few bottles remained. But I like ’em fresh, so that is how they go out whenever I cannot replinish the entire supply. But…my goal is to have the supply completely refreshed by Wednesday, all 10 scents.
I have been doing some cleaning and organizing as well. See the planner on the desk? It is working! The corner in the photos is my shop “office” so to speak. I have a real office in the house, where I am sitting now. I am considering moving my old PC into the shop so I can hook up an unused printer for labels. But…I am sort of (hmmm) out of room. The husband has suggested that I begin using a part of his wood shop for storage. He says he is going to have to build a new building. Nooo…nooo….and noooo.
Since I took you for a visit into the shop today. I thought I would show you what I was listening to as well. The CD is called Church In The Wildwood, Volume II. I think it was put together specifically for the Cracker Barrel stores. There are no vocals, the instruments are: hammered dulcimer, autoharp, guitar, fiddle and mandelin. Beautiful! Peaceful. I listen to many different kinds of music. If you knew what I was playing in my truck this week you would think I was reverting back to the early 70’s. So I will leave that up to your imagination.
Is anyone else having problems with posting photos, specifically when you post more than one, does Blogger still allow you to move the photos within the post? Starting yesterday I have not been able to. It looks rather dorky to me to post 3 or 4 photos in a row with no verbiage. But that is what I will do until I get the problem resolved.

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