Well we did it. The kids and I moved things around, created a space and organised the gym equipment in the garage into something approaching usability. We did this just before we rushed out the door to look for cheap, second hand, wooden picture frames that we could transform into paper making frames. Because I can’t just keep making soap constantly, much as I’d like to. Already I have a huge wire basket in my office, filled with Lemon Tea Soap and round cakes of Cinnamon Soap, coloured a reddish-pink with paprika oil. Then on the stove-top, large, rose-shaped cakes of Pure White Soap, sit on a wooden plate and next to them, the same soap but in a simpler, round shape. Stamped with my first acrylic stamp.

Tucked away in the laundry cupboard, I have the first and second soaps I made. The Peppermint and Eucalyptus and the Pure Oatmeal. 

So you see, if I make any more I’ll run completely out of space. Luckily there are only a couple of weeks to go before my first one is cured and ready to use. For other people to use. Because I’ve actually already started to use it and I completely love it. It makes my skin feel luxuriously soft and smooth and it lathers and bubbles so satisfyingly in the shower. The only change I’ve made in subsequent soap recipes, is to the proportions of oils, to reduce any ‘squeaky-clean’ sensation after I dry my skin. Altogether though, I’m completely hooked.

So. Paper making. I was looking at wrapping and packaging, with a view to Christmas gifts and things and I came across some eco-packaging, which I liked the look of. From there to DIY paper making was only a few clicks of the touchpad and I was fired with enthusiasm.

We stopped at an art shop, where Zac chose an air-drying clay set to play with and then at a couple of Op shops (charity shops) and bought some cheap wooden picture frames.

Later, we all sat on the tiled floor and, while the kids made clay figures and stories to match, Andy and I hammered and glued window mesh onto the backs of the frames. After I’d removed the glass and backings of course.

I used super glue and was careless…. I glued my finger and thumb together in the ‘OK’ position and then could not pry them apart. At first it was funny, oh how we laughed, but panic ensued when I truly couldn’t unstick them, not with methylated spirits or vinegar. Andy suggested hot water but I burnt my fingers and stopped quickly. Then he suggested cutting them and I decided not to listen to his advice anymore, though I did pick up the scissors….

In the midst of all of this and while we were still laughing, albeit with an edge of desperation in my case, Zac quietly went to the bathroom and filled the basin with warm water. He came and got me, and with much gentle and earnest reassurance, led me to it and instructed me to submerge my hand. I knew it wouldn’t work, hadn’t I already tried hot water?, but I was touched by his care, so I did it. Then he turned on the hot tap. “It’s going to be okay Mummy, just tell me when this gets too hot, alright?” I nodded, smiling at my beautiful, beautiful boy and then, lo and behold, it worked! He was so proud and I was relieved.

It was too late to make paper by the time we’d finished making the frames and having dinner but, before I came to bed tonight, I shredded some paper and put it in a bucket to soak and pulp overnight. I’m using white paper for this first experiment but after this, I’ll be recycling all sorts of paper. I can’t wait!

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