Friday, October 29, 2010

Meet Mary from Roseberry Bay Soaps

The ridiculously long neglect of my blog has prompted me to get my butt into gear and write a decent post! I'd like to say the large gap between my last post and now is because of some amazingly exciting project but in reality, it's just from general slackness, holidays and lots of orders! I did enjoy my holidays and the orders are great but yes, I am blog slack. Maybe I need a blog personal trainer?

Anyhoo, enough chit-chat, let's get on with it!

I want to introduce you to my friend Mary from Roseberry Bay - Beautiful Handmade Soaps & Luxuries . Mary is the first Australian based soap maker that I met and we became instant friends.

One of Mary's specialities is loaf soaps. I'm always in awe with the precision of her work and her remarkable ability to reproduce such tricky designs with accuracy. My loaf soaps are always a drama. They never turn out quite as planned so I've taken to stopping for a few deep breaths and thinking "What would Mary do"?  Tehehe.

What took your initial interest in soap making?
I have always bought soaps from markets and over the last year or so I noticed more and more of these really lovely and unusual bright soaps.  After buying one lot that had embedded curls, bright wavy layers and beautiful clear colours I thought - I wonder how hard this can be?  So I did what anyone would do - I googled handmade soap and was absolutely dazzled by the information on offer!  I visited all of the forums and blogs and etsy and madeit stores I could find over the next month and realised that this was something I thought I could do!  My daughter had also raised the idea of us having a stall at the local market and M & P soap seemed to fit in with that as she wanted to make lip balms and body butters.  I found an Aussie supplier of the soap bases, colours, moulds and fragrances, placed an order for a “Starter Pack” and off I went!  There was a considerable testing process though - I needed to make sure that the soap was good to use and safe as well as looking “pretty”.
Have you (or do you still) had any other crafty interests?
I have always “dabbled” in craft of some kind.  I knitted and sewed when my children were small and was a professional Calligrapher for about 10 years also teaching Calligraphy at the local Community Centre.  I’ve done cross stitch, tapestry and I bake ... a lot!  
Do you have a “day job” or is soaping a full time venture for you?
Yes I do have a “day job”.  I work at the local Cemetery in sales which is about as far from soaping as you can get!  It’s a great job and you meet loads of lovely people who rely on you to get them through a very difficult time so it is a very nurturing job as well.
Run us through an average soaping day.
I guess there’s no such thing for me as an “average” soaping day.  I can see something that makes me think of soap (and all you soaping addicts know what I mean!) on TV or in the shops and come home from work and start planning what I want to do.  After cooking tea I’ll head to the soap station (my kitchen) and start fiddling around with colours, fragrances and moulds until I have it clear in my head how I’m going to set everything out to get the result I want then ... off I go!  I also try and set aside a Sunday or two a month to concentrate entirely on designing and making soap.  It really is a process than can take a couple of weeks.  I see something I’m inspired by ... spend a little bit of time here and there working out on paper the possible ways to do it ... try and work out any variations that I think may work or look better ... in the back of my mind I’m thinking of fragrances and colours ALL the time ... then off I go!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration can come from many different places.  I look online to see what others are doing and, if there’s something that really catches my attention, I’ll see if there’s a way I can tweak it to make it mine.  There’s nothing worse than soapers who make an exact copy of someone else’s really distinctive soap.  I can be inspired by food - ha ha who isn’t really?  I’m hooked on the Food Network and if there’s something there that has great layering or a different look then I immediately think “Would that be do-able in soap?”  There isn’t a lot of soap information here in Australia so I also check out the blogs from overseas as well as our local ones.  There are some great blogs from Europe which I can’t read (because they’re in a foreign language!) but the soap pictures are fantastic!

Do you have any soaping or crafty idols?
I think like most of us who craft Melt & Pour soap, I am fascinated by the work done by both The Soap Queen (Anne-Marie Faiola) and Soapylove (Debbie Chialtas).  I also love the soaps made by Peter Paiva (  Peter is a Brazilian who makes fantastic bright and innovative soaps - his website is a hoot even if you don’t understand Brazilian!
How do your friends and family feel about your soaping?
My daughter is my “Market Buddy” - she and I go to the Wallan Olde Time Market every month and have done other local markets as well.  She is expecting her first child in January so currently the Wallan Market is the only one we’re doing.  Our son-in-law LOVES the soap and I have to stop him stealing multiple bars every time they visit!  My husband also appreciates having a supply of good quality soaps on hand and both he and my son-in-law absolutely love our new shaving soap.
If you could make 1 really challenging thing out of soap, what would it be and why?
I was in America this year and saw some fantastic loaf soaps with terrific shapes in them that seemed to have been carved out of soap!  One of them was an antique bath with bubbles piled up one end - I think I’d like to attempt something like this.  The patience and steady hand needed to carve a long tube that is “bath shaped” all the way along would be a real challenge!  The reason I’d like to do something so difficult and challenging is so that I can look at it when I finish and say “I made that!”
Do you have a favourite supplier? Why?
My favourite Australian supplier would have to be Aussie Soap Supplies - their bases are just second to none as far as quality goes and they have a great range of fragrances and bits and pieces to add to the never-ending collection!  My favourite International supplier would have to be Bramble Berry ( because their range of colours, micas and moulds is absolutely unparalleled - with the Aussie $ as good as it is at the moment it’s easy to shop online and the prices can be comparable.
Tell us about your first soap making experience.
The very first soap I made was a tricky little angled and layered number with a soap curl embedded in it.  I was so pleased with the way it turned out but, looking back at it now, I can see all the flaws and that it wasn’t really very good!  Thankfully I didn’t know that it used a couple of pretty advanced techniques or I never would have tried it!
Share with us how you felt when you had your first sale.
My daughter and I were so excited!!  This was a complete stranger who liked my soaps enough to buy one - how cool is that??  I think I probably overwhelmed the poor woman with details about the soap base, the fragrance and all of the magical properties of my soap!  She obviously didn’t think I was some kind of soap nutter because she has become one of our regular customers buying up to 8 soaps every month!
What is your favourite base to work with?
It really varies depending on the idea that has captured my imagination at the time!  At the moment I’m loving the Ultra Clear and also the Hemp soap.  Ultra Clear gives you such wonderful brilliant colours and the Hemp is so wonderfully nourishing when you use it.
Do you see yourself trying your hand at CP soap or any other soap making methods besides M & P?
I would love to try CP soaping ... but the lye scares me!  I am waiting to have a decent amount of time to play around with it and really learn how to do it properly.  There’s not a lot of information about it in Australia but I would love to do a course.
Where do you see Roseberry Bay Soaps in 5 years?
I would really like to be full-time making and selling soap.  I would also like to be able to have my daughter working with me and have enough business to support us both!  I would also love our website ( to become more of a sales tool - at the moment people are really just looking at the soaps there and then asking me to bring them to market!  


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