I love soapmaking. I can't overstate that enough. I needed soapmaking. This past year has been hard on all of us. I'm a mom of 3 and we are homeschooling through the pandemic. It's not easy. There have been a lot of tears and frustration but we are healthy and safe. On one particularly frustrating day after school was over, I was in my room taking some deep breaths when I turned on YouTube. Usually I watch the news on YouTube but my kiddo had been using my account before me and there was a random soapmaking video they had watched. I have no idea why I hit play on the video, but it changed my life.
I was instantly hooked - not only on the colorful creation of the soap but on the science of it. I love to cook and especially to bake. The science of baking and soaping are very similar; I love the precision of baking and the range of outcomes you can have from just tweaking small things in the environment, like humidity and heat. Or how you can create something completely different just by swapping out an ingredient like baking powder for yeast. I could instantly see that soapmaking works the same way. A tweak of oils here and you have a more lathering soap; saponify at a hotter temperature and you have a thicker more rustic soap; soap at a cool temperature and you get something you can make intricate designs with. When I finished that 30 minute video, I knew I had to make soap!
I ordered a handful of supplies and while I waited I consumed a ton of videos and every e-book I could get my hands on. I couldn't believe how simple the basic process of soapmaking was and yet how complex artists were able to make their soaps. I was intrigued and intimidated at the same time. I have always longed to be an artist but until now I have never considered myself to be one. My ten-year-old self was determined to sing, but I'm not a talented singer. My thirteen-year-old self was going to be a great writer, but I'm not a wordsmith. I tried sewing, pottery, painting, all with minimal enjoyment and mediocre (at best) results. I can't explain to you the feeling when you are searching for yourself and you feel like you are something and you can't find it. I felt like an artist. I felt like inside there was this creative process happening and I couldn't get it out. Not in my voice, not in fabric, not on paper or canvas.
When my supplies arrived, I geared up and carefully measured and mixed and waited. It was so much fun to create the soap base! It was engaging and interesting to watch the saponification happen right in front of me. Once the base was made I poured out small batches of it and played with it. I added essential oil to one, fragrance oil to one, a bit of honey to another and some oat powder to yet another. Watching the results was fascinating to me. And the colors! I love color and creating the color of the soap bars is something that speaks directly to my soul. I enjoy a crisp, clean natural bar but my personal soap style is intricate and bright. I love soap as art. Don't get me wrong - the mom and budget-savvy consumer in me says "make natural soap because it's healthy and awesome." The artist in me says "make that neon pink, add soap frosting and pop a soap mustache on that!"
I lost track of time that first day while I made soap. When I emerged from my new soap lab I was thoroughly hooked. Some people might not understand but I cried after. For quite a while, too. I had finally found my artistic medium: soap. That voice in my soul that told me I was an artist, literally for as long as I can remember, was right - and I felt it. I make soap daily. It's like therapy for me in these crazy times. I am able to shut the door and immerse myself in it. I lose myself in the soap and I am a better mom, wife and person because of it.
I haven't worked up the nerve to tell the YouTube soaper how they changed my life. But I am working on that. I am building my confidence as a soaper and an artist daily. Everyone who loves and buys my work lifts me up a little bit more. When someone tells me they love something I crafted from scratch it's amazing.
If you have a dream - a voice that tells you you're still looking for your calling - never give up. Don't stop looking, no matter how long it takes you. I am creeping up on 40 and just found my calling. Yours is out there, it's waiting for you. Go find it!