If you have a favourite bird, cartoon character or a song in mind and want to capture it in soap (and bubbles!), just ask Elena, the soap molder-maker. This artisan is from Moldova, a small country in the Eastern Europe, located between Romania and Ukraine. A cosmetologist by education, Elena cites an example: “My Afro Circus soap was inspired by the cartoon Madagascar 3 and the song that the donkey sings. I love colors, so every time I see something colorful I try to remember it. If a woman is dressed in something colorful, I quickly make a note of colors in my phone, or I ask if I can take a picture of her clothes. More often than not, she is happy for me to click away.”
Elena also derives her inspiration from other soap makers, while keeping true to her brand essence (no pun intended). “At ARTE, I met other soapers, particular the Desert Rose Handmade Soaps. I once liked the look of her lava soap. So we did an exchange. She picked one of my peppermint shea butter soap and I got the lava soap. We did it to try the product and to have some fun!” Way to go, Soap Solidarity Sisters!
Elena started to make soaps out after she and her husband developed skin rashes due to the use of commercial cleaning products. “I discovered a berry nut called soap nut or sapidus mucorrossi. I used it to wash the dishes, bathtub, sinks. I then started to use it for my skin, in the shower. Noticing the disappearance of rashes and the improvement of my skin, I knew I had to stop using commercial soaps and make my own soap. And here I am! ”
Elena prefers cold process and melt&pour process over the hot process and rebatching process. “With cold process, I can control the soap making process from the beginning to the end. I can choose oils and butters depending on the especially designed formula. With the Melt & Pour process, I can use more sophisticated color designs and the soaps fragrance holds better. (The definition of the processes are at the end of the article).”
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Here’s her website.
** Definitions of Soap processes (thank you Elena)
a. Melt and Pour – melt pre-made blocks of soap and add your own fragrance
b. Cold Process – the most common soap making process. Made from scratch with oils and lye
c. Hot Process – a variation of cold process where the soap is actually cooked in a crock pot or oven
d. Rebatching – grinding up bars of soap, adding milk or water, and re-blending them various methods derived from the above.