The shop has gone live at Etsy, with six varieties of shaving soap.
I’ve also been updating the website with additional information, links, and a soaping-focused blog.
I have been a busy bee since the last time I posted. I finished up the mascot/logo for Dapper Dragon. I like how he turned out. It’s a bit cartoony, but smooth. Which is what I was hoping for.
I also got some feedback on the lotion bars. It seems like they’re pretty universally enjoyed, and considered to be effective. On the other hand, they are maybe a bit too slippery to just hold in your hand while using on the rest of your body. So I’m considering picking up some sort of twist-up or push-up container before I start offering them for sale.
On the soap front, things are also continuing apace. I have my oils, and my restock of caustics, and I have started making my soaps for the launch. On Friday night, I made my first set of soaps in the laundry room soaping table, or as I have taken to calling it, the Soap Lair. Things worked out pretty well, though I overloaded my equipment and that made everything take too long.
I ended up with three pounds of shaving soap in Dapper Dragon scent.
As you can see, it’s not all pucks. I misunderstood the statistics on my new column mold that I got from my parents for Christmas and ended up with more soap than would fit in it, and in the Pringles can I had set up for backup. (Fun fact: Pringles cans are the same inner diameter as my soap mold, and as many pucks of shaving soap.) So I ended up cramming some of it into the 2oz bar mold I used for the lotion bar. That worked out okay, though, because I just used those to make sample pieces. I’m a little anxious about the pucks, though. They aren’t as regular as I’d hoped. They are the right weight, but making them that way ended up with a combination of hand formed/combined pieces, and smooth pieces cut straight off the log. The nature of hot process soap (especially when dealing with more delicate fragrance oils) means that there are sometimes pockets of air and the like inside where the soap, which is no longer liquid once you mold it, didn’t compact down as much as you might hope.
Last night I cooked up two pounds of Blood Orange soap. Two pounds is a much more reasonable amount of soap in my current equipment. I’ll definitely be investing in some larger cooking equipment as one of my first reinvestments in the business – assuming I break even. I’m torn between a larger crock pot, or a large stainless steel pot & induction heating element.
The way things went this weekend, I think I’ll be making soap just about every day until I’m ready to start selling. And then it will depend on how quickly the soap sells. If we get lucky and catch popularity early, it might continue for a while. Or I might end up sitting on this inventory for months.
Either way, I’m pretty excited by the whole endeavor. Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s been a heck of a ride so far.
Things are really starting to roll, now.
This week I spent a not-insignificant chunk of change on raw materials for my first batch of shave soaps. It ended up in three orders. Fragrance and essential oils from one location, oils from another, and bulk lyes from a third. The first parts (the oils) are scheduled to be here on Tuesday. I’m pretty pumped about it.
My last soap, a hand & face bar with an iced tea scent, is looking good and should fully cured in a couple of weeks.
My soaping oils have started to run low, so today I wasn’t able to make any soap. Instead, I tried out a recipe I found for lotion bars. I used the jasmine/vanilla scent that my wife really enjoyed in her shaving soap. Early impressions are favorable!
I’m not sure what the best packaging method would be for these, but that’s something to consider in the (near) future. For one thing, I’ll need some Vitamin E or other skin-friendly preservative if I’m going to sell them.
The quest for a logo is continuing as well. I have a basic idea of what I want the logo/mascot to look like. As the name Dapper Dragon implies, I want a dragon looking well turned out. In my imagination, he has a friendly, content look on his face, and he’s “smoking” a bubble pipe. An ascot or cravat will probably figure in somewhere as well.
I think I’m getting close with this one.
My soap hobby cum nascent business is gaining momentum lately. I’m getting pretty excited about it. I have a planned launch inventory, though who knows if it will be enough. I guess I’d rather have too little and have to reorder and adjust, than order too much and take a big loss when the line doesn’t take off.
I’ve reserved the doman DapperDragon.com. I’m in the midst of setting up the site using Joomla. The logo is 50% done.
I’ve got an initial scent line-up, too:
Dapper Dragon – An old-school barbershop/cologne smell, with a twist. A blend of citrus oils and canteloupe, combined with smooth oakmoss, and spicy lavandin and black pepper.
Ice Wyrm – Peppermint and rosemary, with a hint of black pepper in the background.
Lavender Lizard – A mix of French lavender and lavandin, with notes of oakmoss and black pepper. (I’m starting to see a trend.)
Jasmine & Vanilla
If things continue to go well, I see the site launching in 4 to 6 weeks!
As I suspected, my NaNoWriMo novel didn’t hit 50,000 words during November. C’est la vie. I has, however, hit more than 20,000, and gotten to the introduction of the central tangle of conflicts that will drive the rest of the story. So I’m pleased, and I’m still making progress.
On the soaping front, things are going well. I have shaving soap samples out to a few people that agreed to test for me, and a few more lined up. That’s pretty exciting for me, and it looks like early 2014 is still a realistic goal to open up shop. I’ve also been focusing a bit more on face/hand soap, with an eye toward extending that part of my product line.
This has involved learning some things about cold process soap that I didn’t know before. Such as, the temperature of your ingredients really does make a difference. Not so much because of functionality (it will create soap either way) but because of the rapidity of trace (setting) and the “gel phase” process. I made a batch of soap for cold process and combined them when the oils and lye were both pretty hot. It traced rather abruptly and started a gel phase right away. Usually you have to insulate a soap and leave it overnight for that to happen. (Or make it by hot process.)
So, I ended up with a functional but messy looking soap:
I have a nice new silicon mold now, and plan to try making a hot-process batch. I think that HP soap that is done in a shallow container like the one I received this week will be easier to handle than the tall cylindrical molds I had been using.
Oh, and the Dapper Dragon himself is starting to take shape!
My nascent soap-making cottage business, Dapper Dragon Soaps, is building up a head of steam as I get ready to start offering products for sale.
The first thing to go up will be shaving soaps. I’ve pretty much gotten my formula down, just waiting to hear back from some product testers before I pull the trigger and start making pounds of soap.
Shower/face/hand soap has a bigger lead time. Cold process bars are just prettier, not to mention that I’ll probably amuse myself with colors and the like that I wouldn’t want to gunk up a brush. But CP means 4-6 week (minimum) time before they’re ready to use. I also want to either build or buy a loaf mold so I can have actual bars of soap. I think people would like that.
I’m aiming for Q1 of 2014 to launch. I had hoped I might be able to get something going before Christmas of this year, but it just didn’t work out that way.
After a week of “curing” (actually just drying) on my desk, the third version of my shave soap was solid enough to handle without becoming a mess. So, I took the ugly-looking top slice and plopped it in a bowl for some testing.
It made a nice, slick lather quite easily, and the blood orange fragrance oil has a very nice scent when lathered. I also left the lather in the bowl for 30 minutes while I played with my daughter and got dinner ready. It fell a little due to gravity, but didn’t collapse and was still quite slick.
I shaved with it this morning, and it worked quite well. My lather this morning might have been slightly less slick than I’m getting from my V2 soap (which was made with pure KOH), but I’m going to use it a few more days before I make any determinations.
I hope to pack up soap samples for people that have volunteered to test for me this weekend, and put them in the mail on Monday.
Guess I’d better get to work designing a logo, huh?
I haven’t been very active here since this summer, but I have been keeping busy. Fatherhood and a full time job will do that for you, regardless of your creative efforts.
Thankfully, I haven’t been idle on the creative front, either.
My wife is a potter, photographer, and knitter. She is selling her work over at LadySea Creations. Since I’m already conversant in HTML and CSS, and have a decent idea of design, I’m the webmaster and site author over there. It’s a pretty good creative outlet. I have always enjoyed programming for that reason. (I’m writing server side scripting in PHP.) Creative problem solving, followed up by translating those ideas into a structured language. It’s a fun challenge, and not entirely dissimilar to writing structured poetry.
I have worked a bit more on The Apprentice, and also a couple of short stories. It’s not as much progress as I’d like to make, but fatherhood and work continue to be very intense. My hope to write on the laptop or paper while being Parent on Deck hasn’t really worked out. The littlest munchkin is just too active, too curious, and too smart. She requires more attention now, not less. I’ll likely be hosting a story or two here in the near future.
I’m still really enjoying soap making. The last soap I made didn’t work for the house because I had forgotten that my wife’s tree allergies involved cedar.
The next thing I made (that worked) was a soft shave soap with shea butter. It really came out great. The lather is very effective, and the shea butter leaves the skin feeling marvelous afterward. I was trying for a lemon-lime scent with a touch of peppermint, but the peppermint oil was much stronger than I realized. I ended up with basically a pure peppermint scent.
Currently I am curing a stiffer version of this soap. I also plan to try a hard version. Whichever I like best will become the basis for my shave soap line. That’s right, I’ve decided to try selling soaps. I will call the brand Dapper Dragon soap, and sell it alongside Sonya’s pottery at Ladysea Creations.
I intend to make bath and facial bars as well. Hopefully I can include some in the products on display when Sonya does local craft sales.
This is one realm where I haven’t kept my hand in this year at all. I’m not really happy about it, either. But there are just too many things to do, and not enough time. However, I have checked out the newest Krita for Windows. I really like the way it works. It is similar in many ways to MyPaint, but since it uses the KDE libraries, it’s not affected by the Gnome/GTK issues that killed tablet functionality in MyPaint for Windows and GIMP. And it’s open source!
That’s the state of my creative life these days. Look for more, and more frequent updates as I get these projects rolling.