You may remember when I resolved to start selling soap online. I made a bunch of soap, and started working out the logistics. But I have some kind of a mental block about it.  I just could not make myself go through with it. (I’m sure this is ripe for some kind of psychoanalysis, but whatever).

So there I was with craploads of nice soap and no place to sell it. When a friend pointed out a local craft fair that was (for a miracle) taking applications, I was like yes, totally. Never mind that I’ve been working like an insane little bee ever since I got back from Italy in August. Freelancing is always unpredictable, but I’ve never seen anything like this before. I do not take days off. And every time I think I’m caught up to the point where my schedule can go back to something resembling normal, I get three more offers of work in the same day. It just keeps happening. Yes, yes, I am so grateful. Really. It is nice to be able to pay the rent and whatnot without worrying about it. (The waves of money are still little ripples at this point, but I’m looking forward to the big payout).

The upshot is, I left the soap labeling until the last night. Plus, the craft fair lady wanted me to make other stuff besides soap- i.e. bath salts and sugar scrubs. I tried that once before, and ended up selling only a very few of them, so I was reluctant. I don’t know if people just weren’t impressed by my sugar scrub presentation, or what. So I figured with only one night to do the labeling, I really ought to just be sensible and skip the whole bath-salt-sugar-scrub thing. Right?

You know that urge to be perfect? I couldn’t resist it. I didn’t want the lady to be disappointed. How stupid is that? Anyway I spent a couple of hours I couldn’t afford making and labeling bath salts, because they’re the easiest. It took a little longer than I expected and I started to feel panicky.

Loading a new toner cartridge in the printer proved too much for me. I ripped into the packaging and tried to replace the thing but I couldn’t bring myself to stop and read the directions properly, because I was in such a hurry. And so I couldn’t get it right. After fifteen minutes D finally took pity on me and helped out.

I counted the soaps to see how many labels of each type were required. I made a list. I got out the special recycled soap-label paper, loaded it in the printer, and started opening the label files and printing them up, some in brown paper and some in buff, for a little variety.

I get about 5 labels per letter-sized sheet of paper, so once they were printed they had to be sliced and trimmed. I bought a little paper trimmer a few years ago, and it is way better than scissors, but it still takes a long time. The paper has to be aligned and steadied very carefully, and it’s not accurate enough to slice more than one piece of paper at once. (It would only lead to tears). So I sat down in the floor with the paper cutter and a DVD of Grey’s Anatomy. (Because we’d already watched all the Doctor Who we can get)And sliced. That bit took about an hour. Ok, I thought, I’m going to get to bed a little bit late, but only a little.

At that point the only thing left was to wrap the bars and glue the labels down. Neatly. Plus brush off the soap crumbs. Because soap crumbs make your soap look icky. Plus dump the soap crumbs out of the plastic bags, because if you don’t they just stick to your soap again. Plus throw away the little cotton balls soaked in essential oils that I keep in the bags. Because if you leave them in the bags with the labeled soap, they make dark marks on the labels. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, gee, I should be done soon.

When I finally stumbled into bed I was thinking the same thing that I think every time I do this: I am never, ever going to do this again.

I gotta say though, I was really pleased with the bath salts. I don’t know how many people actually take baths anymore, but I like ’em in winter. They warm you up, and have the potential to smell nice. If you add a little oil to your salts, then voila! You banish the dry winter itchies while you soak. It’s so much nicer than slathering on lotion.

Moisturizing Bath Salts

– 1 part oil (I used olive, but you could use sunflower, or safflower, or almost anything that doesn’t smell too strong).

– 12 parts salts (I used a combination of dendritic and dead sea salts from this online soap supply house because I have a complex about only selling things that are really worth buying, but probably epsom salts would work just as well).

– essential oil (optional: pink grapefruit is nice)

– extra decorative stuff (optional: I used lavender blossoms, pink kaolin clay, and rosemary powder respectively, but probably there are lots of readily-available stuff that would be nice. Like spices).

Pour your salts into a bowl and add the oil a little bit a time, stirring thoroughly to coat the salts. Add essential oils and/or extra decorative stuff and stir some more. Ta-da! You are a crafty genius.

Felix sez: You’re taking pictures? Let me get in there and clean my butt.

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