Saturday, 25 September 2010

Getting in a lather

In need of a treat and wanting to learn a new skill, I booked myself on a soap making workshop. I got to the venue early, so walked around the back streets of Islington admiring the multi storey townhouses and wishing that people would leave their blinds up/shutters open so I could take a peek inside.

When I got too cold, to the point of not being able to move my hands anymore, I made my way to The Make Lounge. When inside I was invited to put my jacket and bags into a storage area and then come back and help myself to a drink when done. With a hot cup of coffee in hand (but no sign of the biscuits and savoury snacks that were mentioned in our communication) I sat down at a group of tables as other people joined the room.

The tutor was among the last to join us. We wrote our names on sticky labels and stuck them onto our clothes and then had to go around the room and say our name and if we had made soap before. As each person spoke, something dawned on me. I seemed to be the only working class woman in the room. What I mean is ( and forgive me if I am not eloquent enough in expressing myself) is that the women were well spoken, confident and well educated. My feeling of inadequacy loomed over me ready to make me the class fool by saying or doing the wrong thing.

After deciding the groups of fragrances we preferred such as floral, warm, citrus etc we were put into 3 groups to make the soap as a team. The women in my group found it a breeze and were in their element dipping their pipettes and getting to grips with the digital scales and thermometers. Now, back at home I would find this no problem at all but I felt shy and intimidated by these women who seemed to ooze confidence and organisational skills. They were pleasant enough towards me but I felt really uncomfortable. They probably thought the same about me! I really wanted to crawl under the tables and come out when it was over.

I must have enjoyed myself in a strange sort of way as the time passed quickly. At the end of the course I spied some savoury snacks at the back of the room. Drat! It was too late to eat them now.

With my small box of soap wrapped in a towel and continuing to 'cook' on my journey home, I walked up to the station to catch my train. Arsenal were playing at home. I didn't know. As I got into the station having to force my way through the Arsenal supporters coming out, a tall uniformed man screeched at me ' ENTRANCE OVER THE OTHER SIDE!!!!' I didn't realise that he was talking to me until he screeched at me for a second time 'OVER THE OTHER SIDE!!!' 'YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE SO RUDE!' I screeched back at him, being very rude in the process. I think I was feeling particularly stressed after my not-so-much-fun soap making experience.

I now have to wait 24 hours before I can cut the soap into bars and then 4 weeks before I can use it. It does look good, poured in the mould with its sprinkling of lavender flowers. I think I would like to make soap again but in the comfort of my own home, with my own things around me and my own company!

* Just to add, I think that a workshop at the make lounge would be good if you went with a friend or a group of people rather than by yourself unless you have the social skills that I sadly lack!


  1. I'm like you, Simone - I'm really uncomfortable with groups of people I don't know and can be quite shy at times - even at my age!:) It sounds like an interesting course though and you can experiment with more soap making at home and invite the friends you are comforatbale with to come and have a go, too. The lavender soap sounds gorgeous. The station man was thoughtless - we had a really rude woman in the supermarket whilst we were shopping today (long story) - I'm still upset about her now:)

  2. I quite fancy having a go at soap making. Kirsty Allsop made it look easy on her Homemade programme but I guess it's not.
    I know what you mean about going on your own. I own tried a pottery evening class. After two weeks I stopped going as everyone else had a friend with them and I felt left out. On the second one I looked around the room and saw everyone was laughing and having a good time and even though I think I am a social type of person and can talk to just about anyone I felt so alone. I started crying and vowed never to go back.
    Hope you enjoy your soap when you get to use it.

  3. You were brave to go on your own, not sure I would have the guts, well done! Well done for sticking it out too, think I would have gone to the toilet and not gone back lol. I am sure you learnt a lot that you can now use in the comfort of you own home and I look forward to seeing yoru future frothy makes :-)

  4. So when are we going to see the soap you made - I bet it's lovely - I love handmade soaps!:0)

  5. What a shame it wasn't what you had hoped. I do know what you mean about going somewhere on your own without some moral support, not always easy.
    Good for you for shouting at that rude station man!
    I'm sure you're going to have some lovely soap though! :)
    Vivienne x

  6. Oh Simone, I am so sorry you felt awkward. It's hard doing those group things sometimes if you feel a bit out-of-the-gang. Hope it doesn't spoil your pride in the soap you made.
    And for what it's worth, I bet if those women read your blog they would feel in awe and intimidated.

  7. Poor you! A class should be a great learning and freind making experience - mind you, saying that, I am trying to set myself up as a tutor for classes I couldn't afford to take myself! - same with my drumming work, I coouldn't afford to book me!

    You want to get yourself up north for your next course - we are a very down to earth freindly bunch...


  8. Simone just because someone is well educated, doesnt necessarily mean they have any common sense!

    Hope your soap turns out to be just lovely.

    ps. ironing? whats ironing? hehe


  9. What strikes me Simone is that a good teacher should be able to negoriate this so that evryone feels at ease and involved. It isn't enough to just pass on the skills. Well done you for staying till the end x

  10. Sorry to hear you felt so awkward and I totally agree with Summerfete.

  11. Pat yourself on the back... for going and for staying. I understand that feeling. I once took an art workshop. Everyone in there was so far ahead of me in their art skills and I didn't even know enough to ask an intelligent question. Plus, between them they had enough expensive supplies to start a mini art store. There I was with my all-I-could-afford-at-the-time beginner set! Talk about feeling like a fish out of water. Yikes!

    So I spent a lot of time practicing at home before I ventured out to another art workshop. But when I did, I made a point of being friendly and helpful to beginners.. because I remembered how it felt.

  12. Well you are one step ahead of me. I have thought about making soap for about a year but the furthest I've got is jotting it down on my list.Good for you for putting yourself out there and trying new things!


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