HSCG Member Spotlight: Master Certification Recipients

HSCG Master Certified Soapmakers

Are you exited? Because WE’RE excited! I must say that I do love the fresh smell of ambition in the morning…

For those who may not know, one of the many Member Benefits of the HSCG is the opportunity to partake in the Certification Program.

 Long story short,  there are  3 levels of certification: Basic, Advanced, and Master.  Each available in either the CP/HP -or- the MP category, and each a bit more difficult/involved than the last (and no, you can’t just skip ahead & start at the Master level. You are required to start at the bottom, and pass you way up!)

The Master Certification level is the third and final level of Certification that an HSCG Member can achieve.

Comprised of 4 separate parts & allowed up to 2 years to complete it, this test is not for the faint of heart, people.  Just think of it as the SAT’s of HSCG soapmaking certification.  The Master level was implemented in 2012 to further evaluate the knowledge & experience of the soapmaker, along with their ability to research & investigate new areas, & expand the awareness of the handcrafted soapmaking community.  

If you were able to join us in Indianapolis, IN this past April for the annual conference, then you had the pleasure of helping us congratulate the very first 2 HSCG members ever to be awarded the HSCG Master Certification: Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry Inc., & Jackie Thompson of Gaily Rebecca Soaps!

HSCG President Feleciai Favroth presents Anne-Marie Faiola with her Master Certification award at the 2015 HSCG Conference.

“Completing the master certification has brought me the confidence in knowing that Bramble Berry and I can complete even the most daunting of soap challenges. We also gained much applicable knowledge in regards to lye production and transparent/melt and pour soap production.” ~ A.M. Faiola 

Having started making soap when she was 16 years old, it’s no surprise that this evolved entrepreneur was one of the first to complete this process.  However even with so much experience & success, when asked if she learned anything new that she might not have otherwise known before deciding to take the Master Certification, Anne-Marie gladly shed some light:

          “…There were many things! To name a few: the history of lye production, the chemistry of melt and pour and what the components do, how cream soap differs from something like bath whip, as well as the production methods for these items that could be applied to house made items at Bramble Berry.”

HSCG President Feleciai Favroth presents Jackie Thompson with her Master Certification award at the 2015 HSCG Conference.

Jackie Thompson, most well known for her adventures & experiments with liquid soapmaking,  was also kind enough to answer a few post-certification questions for us!  When asked about the process as a whole & whether or not she would recommend it to another soapmaker member, her answer was resoundingly positive:

“Of course I would recommend and have recommended other soapmakers complete the Master Certification! If nothing else the Master Certification creates a feeling of accomplishment as well as the understanding there is still so much more to learn.  It also gives the soapmaker a chance to understand the avenue of expertise they are especially equipped to focus in their soapmaking journey…beneficial for the soapmaker as well as the soapmaking community.”

(To read the entire Q&A with these lovely ladies, click here!)

So what are YOUR thoughts? Are YOU an HSCG Certified Member? What do you feel that you got out of the Certification process? We want to know! Drop us a line in the comments below to share your Certification story!

Soap + Mold: Happily Ever After

She’d been salivating over it for months (years, maybe?) and finally, it was here. No more odd-sized bars cut from shoe box molds.  No more fighting with freezer paper or struggling to precisely line makeshift molds.  She dove into the newly delivered box and unwrapped a brand-new silicone lined mold.  Admiring its fine, shiny, perfectly square edges, panic set in…

How much soap would fit in this bright, shiny new mold?

Soap in Mold

Photo by Flickr member Judi Cox. Used under a Creative Commons License.

If you’ve ever found yourself in this situation, you’re not alone.  Figuring out how much soap will fit in a mold, like Marie Gale might say, is not complicated, but it is very detailed.

Now, you can easily use an online calculator (here, here, here)  to size your soap recipe to your mold, but just in case you desperately need to make soap when the power’s out, here’s an explanation behind the math.

In order to figure out how much soap will fit your mold, you first need to figure out the volume of your new mold.  Assuming your beautiful, shiny new mold is a rectangle (or a square, which is technically also a rectangle), this is easy.  Measure the inside length, width, and height of your mold in inches.  Below, we’ve made up some numbers so that you can follow the calculations.

Step 1: measure inside dimensions of mold >>

Inner length of mold, in inches 10 in

Inner width of mold, in inches 3.625 in

Inner height of mold, in inches 2.25 in

Multiply those numbers.  This gives you the volume in cubic inches.

Step 2: Calculate volume >> Length x width x height =  81.56 in3

Unfortunately, I don’t know many soapmakers working in cubic inches, so let’s convert cubic inches to ounces.  One cubic inch equals 0.554113 ounces, so we can multiply the volume by 0.554 to convert from inches to ounces.

Step 3: Convert volume to ounces >>  81.56 in3 x 0.554 =  45.2 oz

You’re almost there.  You have volume in the correct units, however, you need to convert from volume to weight (ounces are tricky that way).  We know that one volumetric ounce of oil does not weigh one ounce.  For many vegetable oils, one ounce of oil at room temperature will only weigh 0.9 ounces.  (This is referred to as specific gravity and yes, this number is a gross generalization.)

Step 4: Convert volume to weight >  45.2 oz x 0.9 =  40 oz

Congratulations, you’ve estimated the total soap volume that will fit into your mold. (Insert a happy soaper dance here, along with a fist pump of soapmaking victory, if you like.)

If you are making a cold or hot process soap and want to estimate just how much oil to use, Member David Fisher has an easy to follow guide.

Have you ever made way too much or too little soap to fill a mold?

Back to (Soap) School

Welcome to September.  The days are slowly shortening, summer’s gradually winding down, and school is back in session, which makes this a perfect time to ponder continuing your education.  You don’t have to stop learning just because your formal schooling has ended.  In fact, many soapmakers don’t discover their passion until well after primary and secondary schooling is a distant memory.  No matter how you like to learn, we have some suggestions to further your soapmaking education that we think will float your boat and fit your style:

3/366 - Back to School

Photo by Flickr member thebassoonist12. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Like your learning jam-packed into several intensive days with hundreds of like-minded soapmakers? Check out the annual HSMG conference.   Next year’s is in Raleigh, North Carolina and 2014’s is in Tucson, Arizona.  Register now to take advantage of early-bird pricing and member-only installment plans.

Enjoy furthering your skills with a friendly cross-country competition? Bramble Berry’s in the midst of a natural colorant challenge for cold process soap while Erica Pence of The Bonnie Bath Company and Bath Alchemy Lab has started a fast and furious color palette challenge for every soap medium.

Happy curling up with a book? See some of our recommended books and get a member discount in the HSMG bookstore, while supplies last.

Prefer to read online? Pore over the Journal archives and Handmade, Wholesale Supplies Plus’s new online magazine.

Youtube fanatic? Wholesale Supplies Plus and Bramble Berry post lots of videos to teach you everything from ingredient fundamentals to fancy new techniques.

Want to see it demonstrated? Check out a class from a teacher near you.  From candy-like confections to body butters, classes addressing a range of cosmetic and soapmaking skills abound.  The HSMG site has a steadily growing list that allows you to search for certified soapmaker teachers.

History buff? Peruse Essential Depot’s vintage lye pamphlets and trade cards from Lovin’ Soap’s Amanda Griffin while really delving into the past with Marie Gale’s guide to 300 years of Natural Soap and Cosmetic Recipes.

However you choose to continue your education, here’s hoping you have a spectacularly edifying September.

How do you keep learning?  Do you have a favorite resource?