Thursday, October 10, 2013

DIY Cute Pumpkins for Halloween

We will felt a few cute pumpkins for Halloween. Our pumpkins could be great gifts for friends and family. They will look wonderful in your living room or your kitchen as signs of beautiful Autumn and approaching Halloween.

We will need some orange felting wool, a glass of water and a piece of soap, black thread and a needle. We will felt our pumpkins with water and soap so it makes sense to do it on surfaces that don't get damaged by water. A kitchen table should be a good place once it's covered with a water resistant tablecloth. You won't need too much space. The amount of water you will use is minimal.

Take a piece of orange wool and form a ball in your hands. Water your wool and add some soap to it. Now gently squeeze the piece of wool a few times. Start rolling it between your palms. Keep rolling for 5 to 10 minutes adding water and soap if needed.

Once your ball has become somewhat firm and solid rinse it well and let it dry. The goal is to make the ball not too firm so that you will be able to get a needle through it once it's dry.

Once your orange ball is dry it's time to turn it into a pumpkin. Take a black thread and a needle. Start in the middle of the orange ball adding loops around it. Six loops should be OK. At the end it makes sense to add an extra loop to serve as a hanging thread.

It's an easy DIY project that produces a great result. You will have bright and cute pumpkins made of natural materials. They could serve as small Halloween gifts for your friends.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sweet Cheeks sensitive skin natural products

I had a chance to interview Vanessa Mccauley of Sweet Cheeks who lives in Richmond, VA and makes unique all-natural skin care products for adults and children.

How did you start? Trial and error really. I found a recipe online to make body butter. It was okay but not great, so I tweaked it. Over time, I learned the balance. How to get the consistency of feel I wanted. I did it at home for years before I started selling it.

Why did you start? It started with my son. He had terrible eczema. I tried all the drug store lotions the doctor told me to try to no avail. Finally the doctor wanted to put him on steroidal cream. That scared me. So I came home and started researching. I found out mineral oil is horrible for eczema. Every single cream the doctor recommended had mineral oil. So I set out to make a lotion for my son that would help.

Where do you make your items? At home. However, our plan is to convert our detached garage into a workshop because Sweet Cheeks has taken over the house.

Where did you learn how to make your skin care products? Partially online partially by making a lot of mistakes. Sadly, often I had to find out lots of what did NOT work to get to what did. My solid lotion bar probably saw 10-15 fails before I ever got it close to what I wanted. Then it was just small tweaks. However, I suspect now, it is even easier to find recipes and instructional videos on the web.

Is it hard to find a good supplier of the ingredients? For the most part I have one supplier I use for most of my raw ingredients that I love. The quality of what I get is amazing, they are easy to work with, and have a good supply. The thing I have the biggest issue with is essential oil. The price can fluctuate greatly sometimes as can the quality. So I stick with a supplier that has a very consistent quality but that limits the oils I have access to. There are other oils I would love to work with but have not found a supplier that can give me a consistency that I need. I would love if there was a local shop that I could smell the oils that also allowed me to purchase in bulk.

Did you have to obtain any certificates? No and no. I vacillate on regulating the beauty industry. On one hand, what goes into products that go on your skin is so important. Companies have been allowed to put toxic things in products for too long. On the other hand I don't know if regulation will do more to protect consumers than what the FDA's organic labeling did. It is a cost prohibitive stamp that is impracticable for small farms and does little to really produce the cleaner farming practices consumers want. So I don't know what the answer is other then, know the company. What are the company values? Are they transparent in their practices. Look at ingredients. Contact them with questions. A good company should always be thrilled to tell you why they did what they do and how.

Where do you sell your products ? I sell on line and at local shops. My products are available at a few Local Richmond shops such as Nest Antiques, Re Funk It and Orange.