Everything I Needed to Know

So I’ve blogged before about learning lessons from soapmaking, besides how to make soap. It occurs to me that there are a lot of other lessons to learn (some of us have more to learn than others, I guess). Obviously these are things that I’ve known all along (I’m not a total social misfit), but slamming face-first into some of these mistakes learning opportunities has a way of making everything so clear. So I’ve decided to make it an ongoing series (with apologies to Robert Fulghum): “Everything I Needed to Know I Have Finally Learned While Making Soap”.

Today’s lesson: Share What You Have
The main reason that I ever started making soap was so that I could make gifts for my family and friends. I wanted to share some of my time and effort with them. It’s satisfying to give away something that you feel proud to have made yourself.

But as I set out to learn more about soapmaking, I was surprised to find a community so willing to share an enormous amount of accumulated knowledge. Soapmakers love to talk about soapmaking! So they are always willing to help troubleshoot a problem, offer a tip or gently suggest that selling the very first batch of soap you ever made might not be a good idea.

Much of the sharing that has helped me has been in the virtual world of internet forums and mailing lists. Many large soaping supply companies have mailing lists where customers and proprietors can exchange ideas about specific ingredients or products.

But for a broader view of many soapmaking topics, nothing beats an online forum. These are message boards, where a member posts a question or comment, and then other members can chime in and post replies. It still amazes me the amount of time and information that some soapmakers on these forums are willing to share with others. There is no ulterior motive here: it is purely a “pay-it-forward” kind of mentality. I would not know half of what I do now, without the advice, suggestions and (let’s face it) soaping disaster stories that I have read on online forums. And now it feels so good to be able to be the one answering questions and giving suggestions, instead of just seeking advice all the time.

If you are looking for some help with your own soapmaking (or you feel inspired to join in the share-fest), these are some sites that I suggest: The Dish Forum, The Soap Making Forum and Teach Soap Forum.

And so, to bring my lesson full-circle, I will soon be sharing what I know with students at The Nova Studio, as I begin teaching soapmaking classes there this summer. I am really looking forward to meeting some new people who also love talking about making soap!

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