Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Finding my way

This could just as easily refer to my new experience of learning to blog as much as making soaps and potions. Big big thanks to my lovely, talented friend Pixie Sue/ Poppie at for suggesting that I start this blog and for being so encouraging too. Not to mention for being a willing tester for my experiments with whipped shea butter face creams.
I'm sure that the more I blog the more I'll learn.
When I started making soaps I quickly became hooked on finding and sourcing ingredients and moulds. For me it is still as fascinating as the making. When you're fussy about what goes into the stuff you're going to put on your face and body it is vital to know the origin of the ingredients.
The decison not to use anything artificial was easy, realising that a standard 10ml bottle of Lavender essential oil was not going to stretch very far when it came to perfuming my soaps was less so. It was also expensive.
I knew  very early on that I'd hit on something that I loved doing. I knew that I wanted to make more than just the odd batch of soap so with the help of a friend I found a supplier who could do beautiful Lavender oil in 100ml bottles. Buying this was was cheaper too so I was off to a good start. Their catalogue was like a treasure trove of exotic smelling oils.
I was still working in the wholefood store which was a great resource, when I needed a decent quantity of beeswax The man who sold us his local honey came through with a sweet smelling block weighing about a kilo at an excellent price. I discovered that Asian grocery stores were the perfect places to buy all sorts of base oils, not to mention having an excellent range of  Rose & Orange flower waters, more herbs and spices than I could dream of and lots of other fab things I saw as potential ingredients. They were cheaper than a lot of cosmetic supplies companies too.
Another challenge was finding the moulds to shape the soap. No piece of tupperware, plastic packaging or juice box was safe. Again the Wholefood store came up trumps as their weekly yoghurt deliveries arrived in plastic trays that could turn out six beautifully hexagonal soaps. They didn't last long but I felt happier reusing something that would have otherwise had to be thrown out. When things took off I invested in some purpose made moulds but I still use pringle tubes to mould my circular soaps, as you can see in the picture. People pass on the empties for me to clean and use.
The first bath fizzers I made used a small pot of bicarbonate of soda and a packet of citric acid from the pharmacist. These days my bicarb comes in 12 kilo sacks, which greatly amused my neighbour when she came to borrow a spoonful. The garden has herbs and flowers that become ingredients. A friend has taken up beekeeping and brings me the most wonderful beeswax. The essential oil bottles multiplied as did the bottles, jars and boxes. Where was I going to put them all?   Well that's another story...

Monday, 19 October 2009

How it all began and the question that everyone asks

Welcome to my Blog.
My name is Lorraine and I'm the creator of Old Pit Potions. A range of handmade, all natural bath & beauty products. I started out making soaps & bath goodies at the beginning of this century. makes me sound stately and venerable doesn't it?
A friend had bought me a book on soap making as a present and I was too busy working in a job that was not good for me to do anything other than look through the pages but I dreamed of making some of the beautiful bars pictured there.
Two years down the line I was happily working in a wholefood store filled with the sort of wonderful goodies that looked to me like they'd be just the thing to turn into soap. So I loaded a a basket with things like raw honey, organic oatmeal, goats milk & Lavender essential oil. I bought Coconut, Almond & Extra Virgin Olive Oils and turned my kitchen into a soap factory for the day.
Some weeks later I had what looked, smelled and lathered like very good soap indeed. Guess what everyone got for Christmas that year?
It didn't stop there. I just wanted to make more and more so that's what I did and that's where things got interesting, but that's a story for another time.
Right now I'm a few years down the line and I'm surrounded by bath fizzers & salts, massage melts & oil blends. Body and face creams, perfume spritzers and bars and bars of soap. Not to mention the wonderful materials I need to create these goodies.
Oh and the question that everyone always asks is "Why Old Pit Potions?"
The name raises a few quizzical eyebrows and a few chuckles, especially from some American friends who think that it's all about the underarms.
The truth is that the labels started as a really nice joke. I did a swap with my lovely neighbours, who wanted to give my soap as gifts alongside their delicious Sloe Gin. They came up with the label Old Pit because we live close to the site of an old coalmine. As a Miners daughter I loved the name and the picture and so the label stuck.