Cards, Soap

Boston Voyager Magazine Q&A

Well, my craft room is a complete disaster zone, which means I haven’t been in there in a while. If we’re being perfectly honest, I’ve basically just closed the door so I don’t have look at the mess. Out of sight, out of mind, right?! I know I’m going to have to buckle down and get things cleaned up in there soon though, because I have Mothers Day cards on my to-do list. I also need to get a backlog of unlabeled soaps labeled. Maybe this weekend? Wish me luck, I’ll need it.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you that I recently did a Q & A with Boston Voyager Magazine for their Inspiring Stories series. If you’d like to read it, click here.

It was fun to do, and it’s even more fun to see my story on their website! I still don’t feel like I’m anywhere near as awesome as a lot of the other people featured on the site, but I’ll take it!

Here’s the link again if you missed it:

Enjoy the rest of your week!



Freshwater Studio Soap // Salt Bars

Happy Friday!

Cactus Flower Salt Bars

I thought I’d do something new here, and take the time (once a month, or so?) to highlight a specific soap I’ve made. So today I thought I’d talk about salt bars. They are quickly becoming a new favorite.

Wild Rose Salt Bars

Salt bars are a bit different from a regular cold process soap bar, because they contain a high amount of natural sea salt. The salt added to the bar – whether its grey salt, Himalayan pink salt or another kind of fine sea salt (except dead sea salt – don’t use that!) – is added at a ratio of between 50-100% of the total oils used in the soap. So, for example,  if I made a salt bar using 100g of coconut oil as my only oil, I would then add between 50-100g of salt to the bar as well. Typically, a salt bar will have a high amount of coconut oil added to the recipe to combat the fact that a high salt content in a bar can really zap the amount of lather you’ll get. Coconut oil helps to combat that. But, you can also play around with the recipe and add other oils to the mix. My salt bars contain lots of coconut oil in addition to olive oil pomace, rice bran oil, shea butter and kaolin clay. You can read more about my cactus flower salt bars here. More about the Wild Rose bars here. These bars are 75% salt to oil.

At some point, I’ll post more about the specific ingredients I choose to use in my soaps, and why they’re good for your skin.

Cactus Flower Salt Bars

The thing about salt bars is that the high salt content makes them a bit crumbly coming right out of the mold. But, I kind of love the rough look of them! Otherwise, once they’ve hardened completely, I don’t find them to be very crumbly at all. In fact, salt bars are incredibly long lasting because they are so solid once they set.

The other thing about salt bars is that they’re pretty luxurious. They’re sometimes called spa bars for this reason. Not only are the bars long lasting, but the lather they produce is gentle and creamy, and not drying at all (even though the term “salt bar” might lead you to suspect otherwise)! The minerals contained in natural sea salt means that you’re also giving all that natural vitamin and mineral goodness to your skin. The bars help to lightly exfoliate, detox and purify your skin, and the salt can also aid in allowing the other moisturizing oils in the soap to absorb more readily into your skin. Win-win.

Wild Rose Salt Bars

So, now you know why salt bars are a new favorite of mine! I’ll certainly be making more of these in the future. And the Cactus Flower and Wild Rose bars I’ve made have just landed in the Freshwater Studio Shop as part of the spring soap release.

Wishing everyone a fabulous weekend!



Recent Soap Projects

Hi All! We’re half way through the work week!

Today I thought I’d just share a few photographs of some recent soap projects.

Aqua Splash Bath Bomb

Emerald Indigo Soap

I’ve made several batches of bath bombs and quite a few soaps over the last few weeks! I’ve enjoyed playing around with designs, essential oil blends (my house smells so good!), botanicals like rose, calendula and cornflower petals, and different recipes and soap-making techniques. I also enjoy photographing the end results, too!

Calm Ocean Bath Bomb

Several of the soaps and bath bombs pictured here are currently still available in the Freshwater Studio Shop on Etsy.  There are new soaps headed to the shop in just a few weeks, on March 15!

You can also follow along and see lots more photos like these by following freshwaterstudio on instagram!

Marigold Soap

Wild Rose Bath Bomb

Thanks for stopping by!




Soap from the Freshwater Place // Becoming Ourselves Again


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.

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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!

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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.

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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!



More Soap!

Things have been a little quiet around here lately, but with good reason: I’ve been making soap!

Three soaps
I’ve experimented with soap making in the past, first with melt & pour soap, and then even making my first batch of cold process soap a few months ago. And now I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. I’m still making cards, and have lots of ideas there (though not a ton of mojo at the moment), but  I hope you won’t mind if I share my soap-making adventures here, too.

First cold process soaps

I’m still experimenting with recipes – trying to figure out exactly which combinations of ingredients I like best for my bars – but so far I’ve made a few very different soaps. The best part is that they’re all made with a limited amount of natural ingredients, all of which I can pronounce! This has become increasingly important to me when it comes to skin care, especially because I have some skin sensitivities and allergies that like to cause me trouble from time to time. It also helps that the final hand-made product is just so pretty!

First drop swirl soap

The first in this set of three soaps is a bar made with coconut, olive, palm (sustainably sourced!) and sweet almond oils, shea butter, mica colorant, and what I’m currently calling a “proprietary fragrance blend” (because I blended a bunch of fragrances to get something I like and it now smells fresh and fruity but I’m not yet very good at naming or describing fragrances…). Plus some good old H20.  :)  I experimented with a drop swirl technique for these, and sprinkled a mixture of raspberry and poppy seeds on top.

Blue & fruity soap

I also made this beautiful blue soap with some calendula leaves sprinkled on top. I love the contrast of the two colors! Ingredients for these soaps include coconut, olive,  palm (sustainably sourced!), sweet almond and castor oils, shea butter, mica colorant, fragrance and water. These bars have a slightly citrus-y scent that I love.

Castile soap

The third is a traditional Castile soap which means the only oil used in this soap is 100% olive oil. I followed this recipe. It has an oatmeal & honey fragrance that smells really lovely. I can’t wait to try this one out!

First soaps

My plan is to keep experimenting with recipes and designs and see where I end up. So far I’m having lots of fun, even in the troubleshooting phases!

Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in seeing more posts about soap!


DIY, Soap

Making Cold Process Soap for the First Time

About a month ago, I finally tried something I’ve been wanting to try for ages: making cold process soap! I think I’ve been drawn to soap making not only because of how beautiful artisan soaps can be, but also because they contain simple, real ingredients (and I’ve been known to have several mysterious skin allergies crop up from time-to-time).

Cold process soap making kit

So, I bought myself a beginner soap making kit from Bramble Berry. The kit came with everything you need to make your first batch of soap, including a recipe. The kit did not come with any colorants, however, so I purchased some of those separately to try (go big or go home, right?). The box the kit comes in even doubles as a soap mold, though if and when I do this again, I’ll purchase a proper silicone mold.

Other than the oils, lye, fragrance and other basic ingredients that come in the kit, you’ll have to supply a few things on your own like bowls, a stick blender or other mixing tool, gloves, eye protection, etc. Bowls and gloves I bought at the dollar store on the cheap, and they worked just fine!

Since I’ve been dying to try this and because this was my first time, I made sure to do a bit of research before diving in. I found some soap makers I like on social media and learned what I could from them. Bramble Berry’s blog is a great source for this kind of thing. Their youtube channel, Soap Queen TV, has a lot of great info and tutorials. I am also in love with just about every soap made by Tania of Soapish, and she’s got a great youtube channel and an even better instagram account.

Cold process soap

So, feeling mostly well informed, I got started (and soon learned that soap making is more about trial and error and less about feeling well informed from the get-go)… I mixed all my ingredients and then portioned things out into several bowls and mixed in my fragrance oil and mica colorants (Caribbean Blue and Aqua Pearl) – one bowl had fragrance oil but no colorant.

Cold process soap

I had to work pretty quickly because I got a little overzealous and I think over mixed my soap a bit. So, not much time for process photos here! But I did what I think is called a drop swirl, adding my base soap and then the colored soaps as well. I let the batch cure for about 24 hours and then cut up my bars with a sharp knife before letting them continue to cure for several weeks.

Cold process soap

Obviously there’s some room for improvement here, but I feel really good about the results of my first attempt. And the Cranberry Fig fragrance smells so delicious (though next time I think I’ll find some colors that “match” the fragrance a little better)! The soap lathers really nicely and has a smooth, creamy feel. I definitely see more soap making in my future.


This post is not sponsored and there are no affiliate links here – I just wanted to share my thoughts and experience :)

DIY, Soap

DIY Lavender Soap

DIY Lavender Soap

If you’re looking for a quick and easy homemade gift, soap is a great solution. I made these lavender soap for my bridesmaids to include in the gift bags I gave them the night before the wedding. It’s so easy to make, but makes an excellent gift because it’s home made, which I think always gives a gift a special touch.

You will need:

Goat’s Milk Soap Base (2lbs or more)

Soap Mold (any shape, I chose a simple rectangle)

Bunch Dried Lavender (mine came from my wedding florists’ shop!)

Lavender Essential Oil

Double Boiler (I don’t have an actual double boiler, I just created one by resting a bowl inside of a pot with very little water in it)

Soap Colorant (optional)

Lavender Soap Ingredients


Cut your soap into small cubes and melt it over medium-low heat in a double boiler. Once the soap has melted completely, remove from heat and stir in your colorant (optional), dried lavender (I used about a handful/maybe two tablespoons worth), and lavender essential oil (about 4 drops), and stir. Pour the soap mixture into your molds and let them cool completely. Once the soap has hardened completely in the mold,  just press the mold and the soap should come right out. *It is normal for the dried lavender to float to the top of the soap.

Lavender Soaps

I used the colorant for some of the bars, for others I did not (one I even did half and half). I also wrapped the bars tightly in plastic wrap to keep them fresh until I was ready to gift them. However, because of the organic ingredients (lavender) the soap won’t keep forever, so use or gift it sooner, rather than later.

Radar sniffing lavender soap

Sometimes I think if I could quit everything and make soap, I would (although I say that about a lot of crafty things). I don’t think Radar would mind.

Let me know if you try making your own soap!