Just Call Me Half-Pint

I have a confession to make, right here and now. There is a part of me that eschews technology. Odd as that sounds from someone who works full-time digitally designing, blogging on the side, and watching TV when she can get a minute to herself. I think it's the constant stimulation, the being reachable no matter where you are, or maybe the way it makes us all so sedentary. There is no peace in the world of technology.

I think that is why my biggest creative outlets are nearly 100% low-tech (with my electric sewing machine as the exception!). Quietly knitting, or doing the other "making" that I do calms the rough waters and reminds me who I am. Buddhist Monks meditate, I press a seam. Same thing in my book.

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a soap-making workshop at Old World Wisconsin. OWW is an interactive historical experience in Eagle, Wis. Here is a blurb from their site:

Journey back to the past at Old World Wisconsin — a vivid re-creation of the working farmsteads and settlements established by European immigrants in America's heartland.

Discover teams of oxen and horses working in the fields, the farm folk preparing hearty meals over wood-burning stoves, and the heirloom plants in well-tended gardens. Stroll through the Crossroads Village and chat with the town blacksmith or the keeper of the general store. Discover the true spirit of early Wisconsin.

The soap-making workshop was low-tech heaven. The entire process was done outdoors over an open fire using tools and materials with which Laura Ingalls Wilder would have been quite familiar. Our instructor, Anne, not only taught us how to make soap, she also told us fascinating facts about life as an early Wisconsin settler. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to explore the grounds and experience the living museum while I was there (soap-making over an open fire takes all day) but big plans are in the works to go back with family in tow. Here are some images from my fun, fun day:

Mixing the lye in vintage glass jars.
Melting the lard over the open fire.
Anne [carefully] adding the lye to the lard.
Hours of stirring, stirring, stirring.
Until this happens.
And then you add the herby-bits.
I got to go home with my own box of soap. It will be cured in a month or so.

The soap we ended up with is powerful stuff. Pretty drying. I will probably be using this batch for laundry. Anne told us how to make modifications to the recipe to make it better suited for skin. It is a really cool process and there is even some talk about trying our hand at this the next time we go camping. I have notions of rose soap...hmmm.



  1. Oh wow, that's some hardcore soap making! ;-). Rose soap sounds beautiful. With dried rose buds on top!

    (Also, it gets less powerful the longer it cures - you might end up with nice soft soap).

  2. Thanks for the tip! And I'm really enjoying your own soap adventures...your blog is so fun :)