At the February Great Bend Garden Club meeting, member Alice Young introduced Rebecca Ford who gave a fascinating introduction to the art of soap making. Her inspiration and mentor was a sister at a convent in Wichita whose homemade soaps provided funds for a church mission project.
Eager to try it herself, Rebecca began to research and to experiment. Over the last couple of years she has continued her research, perfected her skills, increased her varieties and types of soaps and expanded into making lotions, lip balms, bath and toilet “bombs” and decorative molded soaps.
Her presentation to the Garden Club included an emphasis on the necessity for using safety precautions such as goggles, gloves, a face mask, and an apron as one of the dangers in soap making is the use of lye in the ingredients. Other equipment she uses include large stainless steel bowls, a Swedish stick blender, wooden molds, freezer paper to line the molds, a cutting box, and a scalloped-edge hand cutter which creates the trademark edge to her soaps.
The ingredients in her soaps vary but generally include a hot process mixture of one of two types of lye plus water or other liquid such as milk. That mixture is ultimately cooled and mixed into a cold process mixture consisting of an oil such as olive oil or coconut oil and then the essential oils and other interesting ingredients which give the varieties of soap their scent and texture.
The timing of the mixing and temperature of each of the mixtures is the key to the success of the pouring and molding. The soaps remain in the mold and are insulated for 24 hours before they are cut into individual bars. The finished soaps are cured for four to six weeks before they are ready for use.
Her trademark Artisan Soaps and other products can be purchased at her shop located at 2914 Broadway Ave. on Saturdays from 9 to 5.
At her shop you can find a variety of soaps with fragrances such as gardenia, lavender, lemon, mint and even chocolate; to soaps containing ingredients used for their cleansing properties such as a coffee grounds and oatmeal; to those containing healthful properties such as Saponified olive oil for sensitive skin and tea tree which seem to help keep mosquitoes at bay.
During the Garden Club business meeting, 17 members answered the roll call. President Nancy Swafford and rose garden committee members Alice Young and Mary Kummer led discussions on a possible decorative fencing purchase for the rose garden and the removal from the center of the rose garden of an inoperative fountain which has been vandalized.
Fruit cups and chocolate covered pecans were served by Sharon East. The next Garden Club meeting will be held on March 19 at 10 a.m. in the Barton County Extension meeting room with Becky Dudrey giving the program and Fern Thompkins as hostess.