Super Soapers: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Linda Mays: I am 51 years old and I’ve been making soap for just under two years. I am divorced and I have no children. I live right outside the city limits of Huntington, West Virginia, USA, with my Persian cat, Peekaboo. I have a few neighbors on one side of me, but two sides of my house border on a wooded hillside, so it’s nice and peaceful where I live. There are deer, foxes, owls, and other critter nearby.
SS: How did you get started in soapmaking?
LM: I was on vacation in the Carolinas and bought some really nice soap at an exclusive gift shop. I loved the fragrance and when I ran out of the soap, I got on the internet to try to find more. I discovered this particular soap had been made by a wholesale company in Raleigh, North Carolina and they sold only to gift shops – not directly to the public. So I was unable to buy more online.
SS: Do you CP or MP, & why?
LM: Nearly all of my soapmaking is CP, although I do a little MP now and then. I have asked myself why I like making CP soap so much better than I like making MP, and I really don’t know the answer. It’s a mystery why I would have such a definite and pronounced preference for CP, and yet not know the reason for that preference. I thought very hard about it again (because of your question), and the closest I can come to a possible reason that I seem to be drawn more to CP, is that I find CP to be more earthy and rustic.
SS: What inspires you most?
LM: Seeing a really cool bar of soap or seeing a video of someone making awesome soap cupcakes or cakes. I just start itching to go into the kitchen and try it myself.
SS: Do you consider yourself an artist?
LM: I totally don’t! I love creative writing and creative soapmaking, but somehow I always think of artists as people who have talents that I don’t – like singing and painting. I can’t do either of those things and I’m always so impressed with people who can.
SS: How has soapmaking changed your life?
LM: Soapmaking has changed my life in several ways, but these are the two biggest ways:
· Another way soapmaking has changed my life is that it has turned me into a small business owner. I have NEVER in my life aspired to be a business owner. I never even aspired to be a supervisor at any of the jobs I’ve had over the years. One of my family members thinks it’s because I have no ambition, but that’s not true - I just don’t have the right kind of personality. I like working quietly at my desk on the computer, minding my own business. I don’t like bossing people around, going to meetings, or speaking in public. That’s why I’m still a secretary and not a boss, LOL! I’m not a risk-taker either, so starting my own business has never appealed to me. But making and selling soap started slowly. It happened so gradually, and without me even thinking about it, and then it somehow turned into a business. There was never any time to be afraid or get nervous. It just kind of snuck up on me. It still seems very surreal to me that I am actually selling soap to people I’ve never met, and they are sending me money that I can use to buy groceries, to buy more soap supplies and to pay my mortgage. It seems like a miracle. A much-needed miracle.
SS: How would you describe your creative process?
LM: When I decide to create a new soap, I start by looking at pictures on the internet of beautiful soap from all over the world. Some of these soapmakers have been creating soap for decades. I’ve been making soap less than two years, so I like to get an idea of what has been done before by other people, in other places, during other times. Some pictures show styles that don’t appeal to me at all. Other pictures show techniques and styles and colors that seem beautiful to me. Since I think there are very few new things under the sun, I see nothing wrong with trying to imitate a style or technique that I particularly admire. I find it to be a great way to learn. Other times I may be looking at a picture of a bar of soap that someone else has done and it sets off a new, original idea in my head that is totally different than what I’m looking at. But some small detail about the soap photo I’m looking at can sometimes cause an idea to jump out of my own brain.
SS: What do you benefit the most from other artists in your craft?
LM: I probably benefit the most from other artists by seeing the colors and color combinations they choose for their soap and soap products. I am color-challenged! I don’t seem to have a natural knack for choosing nice shades of color, or for combining various shades in the same product.
SS: Now for a little bit of fun.
Most soap artists seem to be all about their FO's & EO's, which of course are an important part of soapmaking, and everyone knows that scent is the major trigger sensory known for people. If you could explain which, FO or EO, has triggered the biggest memory from childhood, or the most important time in your life, which would it be & why? (this is optional of course).
LM: This one is easy. I have two things that immediately jump to mind. Although I know I could think of many more, these are the first two that came to me.
Linda is a member of our Super Soapers Facebook group. For more information on Linda, or her soaps, you can go to her website at www.theenchantedbath.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/theenchantedbath.
You can also email her at email@example.com
You can email Misty at firstname.lastname@example.org
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