This story begins on a beautiful Florida day in early spring.

The sun is brightly shining; the garden is happily growing.

… and the garden was growing

All is well in the world, except …

Porter beer, red wine, some clay and honey

For whatever reason, I couldn’t wrap my brain around this challenge.

Try as I might, the synapses were not igniting.

I pondered and paced.

I clicked and watched Amy’s video and paced even more.

What did I get? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I did manage to get showered with some guilt because I had accomplished nothing.

Finally, I decided to start with the soap and anticipate the packaging inspiration that would hopefully come to me.

We happened to have an overdue bottle of homemade porter, a very dark, heavy beer.

We also had a bit of red wine that had gone from the drinking cradle to the cooking shelf, so I decided to use both the wine and the beer.

I wanted a look of brown, crimson, and off-white rivers running through the soap. I had made beer soap before, but I had not worked with wine. I could not figure out how to keep everything separate so I made three simultaneous batches of soap. It was a ridiculous balancing act.

I’m sure there is a smarter way to do this. Do you remember that episode of I Love Lucy where she is working in the candy factory and eating the chocolates as they whiz by her on the assembly line? Remember how it was totally out of control? That is how I felt.

Dark Brown Rivers of Red Wine

Usually I read the forum threads, watch some YouTube videos, and click around online before I make soap.

That’s my pattern whether I’ve made that soap before or not. I am not sure why I never bothered to read about red wine. I thought it would turn a dark red color. Wrong!

The other oddity was the tracing behavior.

The three recipes were the same oils, the same essential oils and proportions. The wine and the beer versions acted differently than the white version. I added the clay to the white batch, but I don’t think it ever really did trace. The other two batches (beer and wine) traced slowly, but then became very difficult to pour very quickly. I wound up plopping rather than pouring which affected the design. The next day, the white soap was still very damp. It was odd.

I wanted this soap to have some simple natural exfoliating properties, so I also added a layer of poppy seed, a layer of strawberry seed, and a layer of cranberry seed to create a little natural exfoliation.

Lessons Learned from this soap:
1. Red wine creates dark brown soap.
2. Wine and beer trace at different rates than plain soap.
3. When your brother made the homemade beer, you should probably quiz him about the additives before using it.
3. Thicker layers of seeds [or any layered additive] would have looked better than the sprinkled layers.

Then, came the packaging …

The best thing about the packaging was my great burlap discovery as I had thought about creating burlap bags for packaging. We have a feed store about 7 miles from my house where I just learned that you can buy a linear foot of burlap for 96 cents. The burlap is on a six-foot role so that means I now own a 1’x6’ piece of burlap that cost (with tax) 99 cents. What a deal! Of course, you notice that at the end of the day, I didn’t even use a scrap of burlap, but I sure do know where I can find a lot of it! (Anyone need some?)

Remember that vision I was waiting to magically appear? It didn’t. I tried several different looks, until finally I landed on the one you see in the official photo.

Looking for something different …

My husband, Peter, has always been a fantastic cook, but this year, he has concentrated on ethnic breads and pizza dough, so my neighbor suggested we name this soap and packaging after him. Speckled with seeds, it captures swirls of seeded light rye, wheat, and pumpernickel! Hence, the play on words, Peter’s Panne, with the old-fashioned flour sack look.

Flour Sack Packaging


And so ends this tale of the Rustic Soap Challenge.

With hugs and hearts.

You know I planned that heart right into my design! LOL