Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Waldorf Dolls

Last fall I made my first Waldorf Doll from a kit by Amy of Dancing Rain Dolls. I made a purple mermaid doll. A guaranteed hit as my daughter loves all things mermaid and all things purple.

The kit was a great way to make a first doll. Almost everything you need is included and step by step instructions. I found the instructions easy enough to follow and Amy was great at answering questions via email. It was easier than I expected and I'm very happy with the results. The most challenging part was teaching myself to crochet to make the cap for the hair. The pattern didn't have instructions for this. With the help of YouTube, I managed to firgure it out, but mohair is probably not the best material to learn to crochet with!

Ever since I finished, I've been wanting to make another, this time with legs. I am finally getting around to it and I am planning to make two. One for my daughter and one for my son. My son is almost a year and a half and is at that age were he loves to tote around 'his' baby. Luckily his big sister is tolerant and good at sharing but I think it is time for him to have a baby of his own.

This time, I decided to source the materials locally. I found some skin tone cotton knit at a fabric shop and stockinette from a medical supply store. I have some wool left in my stash, but will need to buy more soon. Christina of Bamboletta, makes beautiful dolls and recommends the romeny lamb wool from Birkeland Brothers Wool and Bear Dance Crafts for skin tone fabric and other supplies you can't find locally. Dancing Rain Dolls also sells supplies but the cost of shipping across the border to Canada is just too much.

I am going to design my own pattern as well. I plan to change the neck detail and try a different type of joint for the arms. My daughter didn't like the bulk of the button joint shoulders on the mermaid and she is now arm-less by request. The mermaid was played with and well loved through all stages of construction and my daughter wanted her returned to the pre-arm stage.

Here are a few links I have found. a post with several links to resources, patterns, and tutorials a tutorial for the hand stitching to close the stuff hole (a step I find challenging) not Waldorf dolls, but a free pattern for some great handmade felt dolls

A few more links added May 5, 2009: crochet tutorial an alternate hair tutorial for a different style of wig

Friday, April 17, 2009

'Heeling' Lemongrass Foot Balm

The first body care product I ever made was a foot balm.  My inspiration came from Nezza Naturals's Healing Hemp Foot Balm.  Their balm is a great product but it isn't locally available (I bought it while on vacation) and there were a few changes I wanted to make.

The original product had the following ingredient list: shea butter, avocado oil, castor oil, beeswax, lecithin & lanolin, essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, rosemary & patchouli.

After doing a little research on the internet I came up with the following recipe:


'Heeling' Lemongrass Foot Balm

4 oz shea butter

1 oz mango butter

30 mL avocado oil

30 mL calendula oil

5 mL beeswax pellets

2.5 mL lanolin

2.5 mL essential oils (10 drops patchouli, 8 drops lemongrass, 4 drops tea tree, 1 drop lavender, 1 drop oil of oregano)

Melt butters and beeswax in a double boiler or microwave.  Mix in remaining ingredients.  Pour into clean containers.  This yields approximately 200 mL.  Notes: It takes a while to fully set up even after it seems to be cool.  When warm, the smell is pretty strong, but it is fine in the finished product.



I used shea and mango butters simply because another of my favourite body butters uses these.  I used approximately 30% oil and 70% butter.   Why?  I'm not sure.  There was a lot of variance in this ratio in all the different recipes out there.  I will experiment more with this in the future.

I changed the castor oil to calendula oil for the healing properties of calendula and because I believe it has less shine than castor oil.

I omitted the lecithin as I was unfamiliar with it, didn't think it was necessary, and some is naturally contained in avacado oil anyway.  I may experiment with it in the future. 

Since I had lanolin on hand from when my son was a newborn I put some in.  I doubt I would have bought any as I'm not sure how I feel about the use of lanolin.  Something I need to research.

I chose my essential oils for their antifungal/antibacterial properties.  Plus I love the scent of lemongrass!  I used the blending guidelines of base note (patchouli) 45-55%, middle (lemongrass) 30-40% and top notes (tea tree and lavender) 15-25%.  I doubt the one drop of oregano oil is enough to do anything at all, but I threw it in there anyway.  Here is a resource I found on essential oils, their properties and how to blend them.

Preservatives are not needed in this recipe as it is anhydrous.



The Nezza Naturals Balm has a consistancy more like Vasoline.  My recipe produces a more solid body butter which melts on contact.  Initially, I thought it was too solid, but I have grown to really like it.



I played around a little and tried whipping during cool down vs leaving it.  I also increased the beeswax to 15 mL in one batch.  In the end, I liked the texture of the unwhipped with less beeswax the best.  My only problem is that it is a little granular.  I believe this is from the shea butter and will try to remedy then in the next batch.  I think it may help to cool the product more rapidly (i.e. stick it in the freezer) so that the shea butter doesn't crystallize (I'm not sure if it is actually crystallizing or just clumping, but rapidly cooling may help anyway).  If that doesn't work, I will try replacing some of the shea butter with more mango butter or with a different butter.


I've been using the balm daily and am pretty happy with it.  I was surprised at how easy it was to make and will definitely be making more of my own products.


Update May 10, 2009

Rapid cooling of the next batch did improve the texture and colour.  (Similar concept to hail vs. snow: both made from rain, but the final product depends on if they are frozen rapidly or slowly.)  Making this batch, I realized the granular texture was more likely from the mango butter as the mango butter had that granular appearance before I added it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Muscle Massage Gel

I've been training for a local 10k fun run with a group of friends.  As a treat, I made us a Muscle Massage Gel for any aches and pains after the big day. 

My inspiration was Biotherm's Aqua Sport Massage Decontractant which I really liked but they no longer carry.  It was tough to find recipes for gels, and the ones I did find used carbomer which I couldn't source locally.  Eventually, I came across this recipe for Strong Muscle Skin Gel.  I made a few substitutions and came up with the following recipe.)


Muscle Massage Gel

100 mL water

1 1/2 tsp (7.5 mL) Xantham Gum

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) Cromoist 025 (Hydrolyzed Oat Protein)

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) Muscle and Joint Essential Oil Blend (from Voyageur, contains Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Cajeput, and Camphor)

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) Peppermint Essential Oil

1/4 tsp (1.25 mL) Optiphen (preservative)


If you compare the recipes, you will notice I increased the amount of Xanthan Gum to produce the thicker gel I was looking for.  I substituted Oat Protein and a separate preservative for the store specific ingredient they call NFF Moisturizer.  I chose Optiphen as my preservative because it is paraben and urea free.

I like how the gel turned out.  We'll see what the others think.  The consistency is good, and it feels good massaged on.  The smell is strong and a little medicinal because of the eucalyptus, but I don't think it is unpleasant.  I did experiment a little with natural colorant, but, in the end,  I preferred the gel without any added colour.

The lady (I must get her name next time!) who works at Voyageur is wonderful - very knowledgeable and helpful.  She has helped me choosing ingredients, learn about the ingredients, and make substitutions.  I also just stumbled across this great blog that has tons of very useful information.  For this project, I found this post on preservatives very helpful.

This is only my third experiment making bath and body care products so I have a lot still to learn.  I've got lots of ideas I'd like to try and I am trying to find great resources that teach rather than just supply recipes.

First Post

So I've been crafting and experimenting and gaining a lot of knowledge from the web lately.  There is some great stuff out there but often you have to hunt for it!  In the interest of giving back, I thought I would post a few things here that may be of use to others.