Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beware of Pseudo-Soap!

A few days ago I was browsing my local "all things imported" store, (which shall remain nameless) and since I had a little time to kill, I worked my way through the imported furniture, imported pillows, imported baskets, imported foods (do you get the picture?), and stumbled into the bath and body section...imported of course!

I thought I'd check out the competition in bar soaps. And first impressions were fantastic: Lovely packaging with colorful labels. Nice, chunky bars with exotic names and intoxicating scents. The price was right...only $6.00 for a 4-5 oz. bar.

But then, I looked more closely. "Made in China" and "Made in India" was the name of the game on these soap bars. And upon even closer inspection, the ingredients contained many chemical names I could not even pronounce. No mention of olive oil, jojoba, or shea -- the ingredients I have come to know that make great, handcrafted soap!

Then, it got even more interesting...

In even smaller print, the label said:

- avoid contact with eyes (O.K., all soap can burn if it gets in your eyes)
- avoid contact with lips (Huh? How am I supposed to wash my face with this?)


- avoid contact with sensitive areas

So, exactly how am I supposed to use this soap? Isn't all skin "sensitive" since it is porous, with a direct path to the bloodstream?

Back to my title. One meaning of "pseudo" is "fake," or "not genuine." And I would go so far as to say that the imported soaps I was investigating the other day were just that. They were compressed, processed chemicals in disguise to look like soap. Real soap I WOULD put on my skin. I'll pass, thank you very much, on the fake soaps -- regardless of where they are mass produced.

Bottom line: Read the labels on the soap you purchase. Where is it made? Can you pronounce or recognize the ingredients? Are there warnings in fine print?

My shop, SoapSense, and many other reputable handcrafted soap sellers on Etsy take great pride in their soap ingredients. We are very conscious about taking care of your skin, and not introducing any harmful elements.

Do a little research, and happy soap shopping!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hand Formed Earwires 101

Ready to shift from manufactured earwires to hand formed earwires in your earring on!

Every beader who tackles earring design eventually gets tired of manufactured earwires over and over again. With the exception of leverbacks, and possibly the twisted wire "no slip" french earwires, it is easy to create your own and give your designs a little more uniqueness! And, it is actually cheaper if you buy wire in bulk by the foot!

You would be surprised at how easy it can be. First, you'll need some 20 gauge or 21 gauge wire. I use sterling silver...always. I prefer dead soft wire, but half hard will also work if you have some extra strength in your hands to bend it.

Then, cut two pieces of equal length, 2-3 inches is a good place to start. Use a pen or pencil to make the uppermost bend, and a pair of round nosed pliers to make a hanging loop and provide any extra shape to the backside of the wire. It is best, and makes for more consistent earwires, if you bend and shape both pieces of wire at the same time. The possibilities are endless!

Then, when you have mastered this and want to go a step further, you can consider a small jeweler's hammer and anvil to flatten portions of the wire. Also, a tumbler and steel tumbling shot with a little Dawn dishwashing soap will polish and harden your earwires in about 30 minutes of tumbling time. Any small nicks or scratches from cutting and bending the wire will also be removed!

Finally, invest in a small rounding tool, often referred to as a cup bur. Use it on the exposed tip of the earwire prior to tumbling to remove any sharpness from the cut edge.

I've scattered some pictures throughout of earwires I have formed. Good luck with yours!

DLPom Handcrafted Expressions on Etsy