Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vintage Finds and Handcrafted Soap

As I moved into my adult years I discovered my passion for vintage, primitive and antique furniture and other collectables. Show me something very old and I generally go ga-ga over it. When I bought this house I was looking for an older home with rooms that still held some of their old-time charm. I got it, alright, along with the problems that come with it. This old house = money pit, but I love the house and there could be worse things than a work in progress, correct? I am very happy. And very glad this old house is a part of my life.

Some of you already know my passion for soap began at a young age, around 8 years old, when I bought a "ball" of very primitive soap. I will tell that story again some day. I bought all kinds of soap throughout my childhood. Soap was an inexpensive thing to spend money on, thankfully! In my adult years I still bought different soap here and there, but mainly the Yardley variety that could be purchased at the neighborhood drug store. But then...I found it!

It was about 15 years ago when I was shopping in my favorite small Indiana town. I walked into the herb shop. I was admiring the scent of sage, eucalyptus, and other dried herbs, and I saw it. I saw the vintage butcher block table (very similar to the one pictured above) with handcrafted soap stacked on top. And for all of those years (since my high school days) I had no idea what the fragrance was called, but that bar of soap had it. I read the index card next to the soap, patchouli. Patchouli! The bars were not cut in a straight fashion, definitely hand cut, definitely handmade, yellow to tan in color, and smelled devine. The bars were not wrapped. A stack of brown paper bags was provided. I think you could buy 5 bars, get the 6th free. Oh yes, I bagged up 6 bars! My heart was thumping...this was exactly what I had been looking for, and I had just realized it. This was THE soap!

To this day I do not know who made that soap. I know it was good. It was wonderful on my skin. I did not leave it in the bathroom for my kids to use (bad me)! Besides that, as I said a few days ago, patchouli is a love or hate essential oil. I returned to the shop 3 or 4 times a year to make my soap purchase. There was also a soap shop down the path. They sold every kind of soap imaginable. Boxed soap, soap made somewhere else, many looked mass-made, interesting to me...but it definitely did not resemble the rustic handmade soap that I had learned to love. I never spent a dime on soap in that shop.

That is when I decided to make my own soap. That is when I started reading and learning. To this day, I am still on the natural path. I love boxing my soaps in brown Kraft boxes, stamped with my Annie's Goat Hill logo. I love the simple labels. If I could sell you soap over the internet off of an old worn primitive butcher block table, I would.

We all have our own styles, and I appreciate each and every one...but this was the beginnings to mine. I can see it and smell it. And I am crazy about it!

How about you, special passions or talents that you discovered, sparked through something simple, simple as handcrafted soap sold on a worn vintage table?


Jason said...

I like that table! I wish I could find affordable vintage old stuff like that around here. I'd like to "old-up" my place since we kind of built it in an old style.

I have noticed that about patchouli too, love it or hate it....

Alix said...

MONEY PIT: Funniest movie ever.

YARDLEY SOAP: Have a bar of lavender in my bathroom cabinet and will never use it. Now.

UNWRAPPED BARS: Save your money. You never need to box or wrap my bars again.

BUTCHER BLOCK TABLE: I'd have one just like it if I found one and/or could afford it.

Love you M. Your posts always make my day.

Trish's Soapy Blessings said...

Love your story about your "love affair" with soap!
My story (as you already know) is a little more late blooming but just as passionate, I think.
Patchouli...mmmm. I really do enjoy that fragrance although I wasn't sure how well everyone else was enjoying it until recently! It has definitely been rediscovered by the new American culture instead of just the "old hippies" and India.
Long live Patchouli! :)

KathyB. said...

Why yes, spinning and weaving the wool of my sheep is something I would have thought an impossible dream many years ago, and look, I am doing it now!

Old homes are a real adventure, aren't they? I have always loved older homes and we owned one for awhile. Have you seen the show "If These Walls Could Talk " ?

rhymeswithplague said...

I was 7 and in the second grade, newly moved to Texas from New England. At the edge of my school ground was a tiny cottage. One day as I walked nearby I heard the most beautiful sound coming from it: someone playing the piano. The cottage was a teacher's studio and someone was receiving a lesson. I stood outside, transfixed, and listened in wonder. As soon as the student left, I went inside and told the teacher that I wanted to learn how to do that. She talked to me for a few minutes, and I left and continued with my school day. She called my mother and encouraged her to let me begin piano lessons, especially since I had arranged for them all by myself.

Just as your story has a sensory element (the smell of soap), so does mine (the sound of a piano).

rhymeswithplague said...

I forgot to say that I have been a church pianist for the past 55 years.

Jeannelle said...

Mary, I love the story of how your soap passion was born! Amazing how it can begin rather suddenly and blossom into something wonderful.

The old butcher-block table is lovely.....I like old things, too, and have fun trying to figure out ways to use them in the house.

I'm catching up on a couple sorry to hear you had an uncomfortable sinus infection and am glad to hear you are feeling better.

Your office corner looks very pleasant. Best wishes with the business planning!

I may have to try some of that Patchouli soap....I honestly do not know what that fragrance is like.

Lynnanne said...

i admire people who know from an early age what they want and end up doing it... i always wanted to be an airline stewardess... and was told i was too short. i was young (grade school) and the bra-burning ladies hadn't made a stand yet. after that, life got in the way. i'm still trying to figure out what i want to do. in the meantime, among other things, i make my own laundry soap and am attempting to do just what women have done for a few hundred years in this country... survive. heading back into the self-sustaining realm of life and slowing things down a bit. i think i belong here. :)

Tracy Berta-daughter to the King, wife, mother, speaker, writer said...

This was so interesting! I really enjoyed reading how your soap passion began. Thanks for sharing.

I love how God places such different interests and passions in our hearts.