It’s humbling to admit that sometimes we don’t know what we are making until we sit down and look at the plants and materials we have gathered. Then the ideas flow.  Admittedly some ideas work. Some ideas don’t. When they do work…well we love the results.

Here’s a glimpse at our “idea machines” works as we work through new soap ideas:

First we gather materials. This pumice came from a hike into the Rio Grande Gorge to fish. As we waded in the icy waters of the river, it came to us that the silt from the shore might make a great exfoliating addition to a mechanic’s soap.


The pecan shells and tallow are from our grandmother’s farm in East Texas. The lemons from Angela’s Austin garden and the prairie sage from Aine’s garden in New Mexico.

Once we have everything collected, we sit down and brainstorm. Putting smells next to other smells. Sometimes we have to walk away to think or clear our noses. After shifting, deliberating, smelling, changing ideas, we commit to a plan. Our grandmother used to say “a good gardener has to kill a few plants to learn how to garden.” That’s how we look at each idea. Some ideas have to die, so others can be great. Here are the soap ideas that “lived.”

All the day’s work. The pumice we collected from the river we used in the two middle soaps. We combined the pumice with an oatmeal stout ale to make these great smelling but exfoliating mechanic soaps.  Not bad for a day that started random materials and no ideas.

Written by esr