Last weekend I attended a meeting on food sovereignty initiatives at the Nipmuc Tribal office. During the meeting, our tribal leader talked a bit about how the tribe is working toward recovering lost pieces of our cultural heritage bit by bit. We do this through language reclamation projects, group workshops and other opportunities that allow all members of the tribe reacquaint themselves with traditional Nipmuc practices after having lost them through the processes of colonization and assimilation over hundreds of years. One thing she said during her remarks really resonated with me; That through this work we as a tribe are “becoming ourselves again.” We’re coming back to who we once were.
In so many was, I feel like that’s what I’m working toward, too. I’m doing this by seeking out ways that I can contribute my talents to my tribe, but also by finding and following my passion(s) in my personal and creative life.
In the last few years, I’ve undergone a period of re-discovery of my own. It’s not necessarily something I want to get into here, but the ups and downs I’ve had in recent months have shaped me tremendously. And now I’m working on coming back to the person I’m supposed to be.
I’ve always been many things: Black, Native American, English, Polish; a librarian, architectural historian, cat mom, artist, daughter, friend. And I’ve always, always been a Maker. Creativity is my outlet. I find the most satisfaction in making things with my own two hands. Whether it’s artwork, cards, DIY wine racks, nail art projects, air plant walls or soap.
So, that brings me to what Freshwater Studio is becoming. On this blog, I like to share a lot of the projects I work on. Lately it’s been cards. When I first started it was DIY projects and nail art. Now, I’ve found a new passion in making soap, and I’m going to be sharing some of that here as well. But I’ll still be sharing lots of cards, too! I’ve actually added separate card and soap navigation pages to the site to make it easier for anyone who’s more interested in one or the other (but I hope you’ll be interested in both!).
And I have a plan for my Freshwater Studio Soaps – cold process soap that I make by hand in small batches. And, the name Freshwater Studio is homage to the place I come from – Nipmuc Country or, the Freshwater Place.
I’ve been plagued by weird skin allergies for years, so making my own soap and therefore controlling all ingredients appeals to me. I know what’s going in my soap and what’s going into my skin and to that end, there are no phthalates, parabens, sulfates, artificial glycols or other unsavory characters in my soaps. Only natural ingredients!
Controlling the ingredients and making sure they are natural and come from sustainable sources means I can also highlight ingredients important to my ancestors, and source them locally when possible(!). I’m on a mission to learn about and use lots of beneficial botanicals, clays and natural colorants in my soaps. By doing this, I’m allowing myself a creative outlet that not only satisfies my need for natural and safe bath products, but also honors my ancestors, in turn helping me to become more me, again.
If you’d like to come along with me on this soap-making journey, you can follow the @freshwaterstudio account on Instagram. You can also check out my Etsy store, where I’ll be stocking soaps and bath bombs as well as cards and gift tags. And as always, keep checking back here for more, too!