13 Dec

Tea and cake with Storybook Soaps

Make bath time fun with Storybook Soaps! Owner Marissa Villescas chats about craft life in Denver, life-size doll’s houses and what to do when you mess up while making soap.

If you pick up a copy of issue 24 of Simply Homemade (out in shops right now!) you’ll see we’ve got a little feature on how to make your own soap – perfect for last-minute Christmas presents or if you just feel like spoiling yourself a little.

In keeping with this clean theme, we’ve caught up with Marissa Villescas who runs Storybook Soaps – a company that sells gorgeous handmade soap in rather quirky and unique designs. Never seen ice cream soap? You have now!

Feeling crafty

“I know I always had it in me, but it took until I was a teenager for my crafty side to show through. I had a trunk stashed with my supplies and would often go to my room to create. Back then, it was painting on wood, now it’s any craft I can find!

"I don’t recall the first thing I made but I do have a cookie jar lid I made for my husband right before we were married, painted with bears and our wedding date almost 18 years ago. I do still have my trunk, stashed with supplies, just like when I was a teenager.”

Family life

“My whole family’s creative in their own way. My boys love to carve hiking sticks from our adventures in the mountains. My older son is really good on Photoshop and with art in video games. My middle son is the master of stick figures and has a real knack for carving. My daughter picks up on little things that are totally opposite of what I like to do, like weaving and decorating, but it teaches us both something new.

“My husband just creates my giant ideas for me. Last Christmas, I wanted to make our daughter a Giant Cub Condo/Hotel for her stuffed animals, so we did. Sixteen rooms and an attic later, it's a life-size doll’s house and every bear has a unique room decorated to their liking. Unfortunately, it wouldn't fit through the door, so we had to cut it in half to get it in her room.”

Good clean fun

“Living here in dry Colorado, my younger son has eczema and the doctor told me not to use any commercial soap on him. I knew that wouldn’t do after the first mud bath outside, so I went to the library, checked out a book on soap making and learned to make cold process soap that has herbs and essential oils to help his skin. I started giving it to friends and family and my creativity has just taken off. I usually make so much more than needed, I started giving one for one away – one soap donated to a needy cause for every one sold.

“I’m inspired by scent. The fragrance oil I buy helps me dream in colour. Usually at night is when I think of what soap I want to make next. I’m also inspired by nature, the bakery at the grocery store, eating ice cream with my family, camping in the backyard, anywhere I can turn something cute into a soap and ice moulds. Shaped ice moulds are the perfect soap containers.

“The doughnuts, robots, chocolate sandwich cookies, fake teeth, giant marbles, ice cream cones, and gummy bears are the most popular. They’re all happy and happy is what you want to give and receive. I love the cold process soaps – my skin can’t live without the moisture it gives.”

Do it yourself

“You don’t need much to start making soap – glycerine soap, a melt and pour base or any container you can push it out of. Ice moulds, old plastic containers, PVC pipes, or the inside of tennis balls are a great place to start. Essential oils and colours can always be bought in small quantities online, and a glass bowl to melt it in. 

“You have to start somewhere – try getting a few supplies to make a gift.  If you mess up, just re-melt it or stick it in the tub. You can’t make a mistake that you can’t use.”

Things to do in Denver when…

“The community is very embracing of the handmade movement. We have many places that offer classes for many crafts, as well as social places to craft with others, but you should also go and see the outdoor beauty and nature of Colorado. It's really hard to stay inside when we have 300+ days of sunshine a year.

“It is also very inspiring to the creative soul. I always take crafts with me on the go. We go hiking almost every weekend when it’s nice and I always have my craft bucket, my camera and of course my writing book. No matter where we go in the state you find people painting scenery, carving wood, taking pictures of nature, or just out enjoying the day. To me it's handmade happiness. Enjoying where you are and what you do.”

We hope Marissa’s inspired you to go and make your own soap. Pick up a copy of issue 24 of Simply Homemade to see how it’s done!

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