Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Favorite Fun Soaping Books!

Hiya, Wonder Turtle fans! Wally the Wonder Turtle and I thought it would be fun to put together a list of our favorite soaping books, so here goes! If you've ever thought about soaping, these books are a great place to start. And if you're already a soaper, hopefully these will be useful for you, too!

The very first book I bought on soaping was Marie Browning's 300 Handcrafted Soaps: Great Melt & Pour Projects. When I was first embarking upon my own soaping adventures, I walked into my local bookstore and was lucky enough to find this book sitting on the shelf. I thumbed through it and felt absolutely giddy about the possibilites. Plenty of gorgeous photos adorn nearly every page, and Browning's overview of melt-and-pour soap crafting and designer techniques gives even the newest of newbies the confidence to give her recipes a go. This book will give any melt-and-pour soaper a solid foundation to build upon.

Another beautiful book devoted to melt-and-pour soaping is Debbie Chialtas's SoapyLove: Squeaky-Clean Projects Using Melt and Pour Soap. This book is also a joy to look at. Chialtas takes melt-and-pour soaping to a whole other level, and her soaps are impressive works of art. In this book, she reveals how to make your own little works of soapy art through detailed instructions for 25 projects. There are tons of full-color photos in this book, too; not only do you get to see the finished product, but you see photos of each step in the process. When you look at one of Chialtas's soaps, you may think, "I could never make something that looks like that!" But Chialtas says, "Yes, you can, and I'll show you how!" Full of tips, tricks, and inspiration, this is a book that novices and experts alike will find extremely useful (and fun!).

Even though I am a melt-and-pour soaper, I wanted to read up on how soap is made. The Natural Soap Book: Making Herbal and Vegetable-Based Soaps by Susan Miller Cavitch gives an excellent overview of the cold-process method. She goes into the chemistry of soap (did you know that soap is actually a salt?), the ingredients involved in soapmaking, and several recipes. A handy glossary is also included. Even if you're strictly a melt-and-pour soaper, it's good to know how soap is made. You never know when a customer will ask you a question about the soapmaking process or how an ingredient listed on your label contributes to that process -- it is far better to have an accurate answer than to say, "I don't know"! Plus, the soapmaking process is rather fascinating, and this book may inspire you to give the cold-process method a try!

Okay, The Directory of Essential Oils by Wanda Sellar isn't a soaping book, per se, but it has lots of useful information about essential oils. If you're thinking about fragrancing your soaps with essential oils, this is a good place to start. Although you won't find usage charts or calculators here, you do get a good overview of more than 80 essential oils, their aroma profiles, their uses through history, their properties, and any precautions or warnings about the essential oil. Blends are suggested, too, for each oil.

Ready to take the next step and sell your soaps? Check out Maria Given Nerius's Soapmaking For Fun and Profit. The first section of the book, the "For Fun" part, introduces you to soapmaking and describes cold-process, melt-and-pour, and hand-milled techniques. Part Two is the "For Profit" section. Nerius discusses pricing, selling, and marketing your soaps. Series Editor Barbara Brabec also includes "A Mini-Course in Crafts-Business Basics" toward the back of the book, and it gives you a crash course in the legal and financial issues of having a small crafting business. (Brabec also has written many books about small crafting businesses, so take a look at her other books, too.) Although this book was published in 1999, it still has good info and will point you in the right direction.

I know this post is about books, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Bramble Berry's Anne-Marie Faiola's Soap Queen blog and Soap Queen TV as must-sees. The Soap Queen blog is full of soapy recipes, inspiration, and advice; head on over to Soap Queen TV's video episodes to see Anne-Marie demonstrate how to make soap and other fun projects from start-to-finish.

This is just a start -- there are so many wonderful books and resources out there, but these make my short list of favorites.

What do you guys think? What are some of your favorite soaping resources? Do you have any titles you would recommend for soapers and entrepreneurs? Wally and I would love to hear from you!

Happy soaping, everybody!