This Month's "Featured Artist", Suzanne Alexander, comes to us from Ohio. She shares with us the moves around the country that her husband's work has taken her, her career, & her passion & creativity for MP soap making.
Super Soapers: Tell us a little about yourself.
Suzanne Alexander:Along with crafting soaps and more under the name of Suzy's Soaps, Etc., I also am a third grade outreach teacher for the Huntington Museum of Art in West Virginia, across the Ohio River from me in South Point, Ohio. Over the years, I have been an elementary school teacher and librarian as well as a freelance writer. For eight years, I wrote a weekly book column for the “Kokomo Tribune” in Kokomo, Indiana. Due to my husband's job, I have lived in five states since we were married 38 years ago and have had a variety of positions in the education field. Now I am pursuing my creative side with my work for the museum, some freelance writing and photography as well as my soap making.
SS: How did you get started in soapmaking?
SA: I always have loved creating with my hands, from cooking to crafting to gardening. Over the past few years, I began to see some beautiful and unique soap molds in craft stores and thought that I would like to try soap making someday. Then I met Linda Mays through a local writing group and discovered that she also had an interest in soap making. We both decided to pursue this interest and do some research. Linda found cold process soap making was for her and I determined that I loved melt and pour soap making. However, we still get together occasionally to do some related soap projects. We are good cheerleaders for each other.
SS: Do you CP or MP, & why?
SA: I prefer MP soap making for a couple of reasons. First, I love all the soap molds available for MP soaps. I find them hard to resist and have quite a collection of soap molds now. I almost feel I could start a “soap mold museum!”
Second, I like MP soap making because I can custom make soaps for people. They can choose any one of my molds as well as the color and fragrance or essential oil that they would like. (As with most soapers, I have quite a collection of fragrance and essential oils, too.)
SS: What inspires you most?
SA: It is hard to choose what inspires me the most. However, I would have to say that I am inspired by the soaping blogs I read (am an avid follower of the Soap Queen blogs and this blog) and books (especially “Soapy Love” by Debbie Chialtas.)
Also, I find inspiration in the molds I discover. For example, I came across a mold in the shape of a foot and knew immediately that it would be perfect for a foot scrub soap with shredded loofah in it. It has become a popular soap of mine.
SS: Do you consider yourself an artist?SA: Yes, I definitely consider myself and all other soap makers artists. We all use the elements of art in our soaps from color to texture as well as many of the design principles. I enjoy looking at all the artistic soap creations from the Super Soapers group members.
SS: How has soapmaking changed your life?
SA: I must admit I am watching a lot less television which I think is a good thing. I am just too busy making soaps.
Plus soap making has allowed me to explore more of my creative side.
SS: How would you describe your creative process?
SA: My creative process usually begins with a mold I see as well as the colors of the season. When I discovered a guest soap mold in the shape of leaves, I knew it would be perfect for autumn wedding soap favors or even Thanksgiving dinner favors. I then thought about the autumn colors and wanted to combine a couple of them, such as burgundy and gold, in each of the leaves by doing a double color pour. I also experimented with fragrances that represented the spicy, crisps scents of the season. I was very pleased as to how my autumn guest leaf soaps turned out.
SS: What do you benefit the most from other artists in your craft?
SA: I think I benefit the most from the support of other soap artists. The Super Soapers group facebook page is great and so is the Melt and Pour Soap Crafters group on facebook. You can present a problem you are having to the groups and other soap artists quickly try and provide some solutions. We are all wonderful cheerleaders for each other as well.
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, & everyone knows that scent is the major sensory trigger 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).
SA: When I was 7 years old, I lived with my family in Santa Barbara, California for a couple of years. There was a lemon tree and a grapefruit tree in our backyard. I loved picking the lemons and grapefruits and smelling their refreshing tart aroma. I have loved citrus-y scents ever since.
You can find more about Suzanne & her soaps by following the links below: