Thursday, December 27, 2012

Soap and Sympathy

I may have mentioned my new hobby? I am learning to make soap. Though any fool, including me, can make lye and fat do the Wild Thing and get something you can wash with, my soaps so far have been..fine. Well: one batch was too soft to use; one unexpectedly turned black (which was kind of cool and spa-y) and one made tiny bars because the ad hoc mold was too big. They suffer from paper crinkles in the sides, insufficient color or general from my lack of experience. When I am dying to make soaps like this:

From The Soap Seduction
and this:

From SVSoaps
and this:
From a now defunct Etsy shop

and this:
From Soapy
My soap looks like this:
See what I mean? It's fine, it smells good, it has some nice qualities...but it's not fabulous.

My head is full of fabulousness, and the wait for my skill to catch up - which might be a long one - is maddening. And then it occurred to me: this is what my students feel like. Their heads are full of fabulous ideas for amazing pottery, and for the nonce they have to be satisfied if it just doesn't collapse. Any fabulousness is almost accidental. They want to know, "What am I doing wrong?" and sometimes I can tell them a specific thing - "Hold your hands like this" - but more often the answer is: Nothing. It just takes practice.

Though I think I am patient enough, there's nothing like standing in someone's shoes to really foster understanding. I think it's good for my outlook, as a teacher.

Of course, it doesn't change anything. For them, and for me, fabulous takes time.


Chris said...

Lori, once again you show your great spirit in recognizing the struggles we all go through in learning a new craft (or relearning an old one as I am with pottery after a 25 year lapse in my practice). Although you are showing us the creme de la creme soaps that inspire you, and they are awesome, most of the best handmade soaps I have ever used look more like the ones you are making.

But you may find as your soaps improve that you have a nice sideline product to market along with your pottery items...

Lori Watts said...

Christine - I admit, I am thinking about selling soaps, if they ever do get fabulous, if only because what will I do with all of it, otherwise? I am also in the process of designing a soap dish with this in mind.