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Open Studio Tour: Soap

May 26, 2009

by FrucciDesign handmade and vintage goods

In this Open Studio Tour series, we’ll be snooping around artists’ creative spaces to find out how they set them up, when, why…even how often they clean them! We really want to know all about our artists, and maybe get a bit of inspiration!

I’m visiting the West Coast for this month’s Studio Tour, where Hiromi, a.k.a. soap, mixes food-grade unhydrogenated oils in order to make her scented creations from scratch!


What’s your name and what kind of craft do you do?
My name is Hiromi and I make soaps and other bath products from scratch.

What are you working on right now?
I’m making favors for my friends’ wedding, as well as building inventory for upcoming shows and stores. I’ve been doing more colorful stuff lately and always (re)working label and package design.

When did you decide that you needed a studio? How have you set it up?
Almost immediately. Once I started selling on Etsy, I realized I needed space just to store all of the raw materials alone.

I actually converted the space where I used to paint into a space dedicated to soap making. I have a lot of “hidden” space like a converted 6-drawer dresser to store supplies, multiple closets with shelving, and lots of 5 gallon buckets to store miscellaneous items. They’re great for stacking.

Did the studio set-up impact your budget?
The outlay has been gradual as my business has grown. The space hasn’t grown, just all the storage aspects. Some mistakes cost a bit, like when I bought 4 massive rolling plastic storage units which I could roll around to where I needed the supplies. They literally buckled from the weight of the supplies and became unusable.

How big is your studio?
A room plus storage space and some space to work outside (where I handle and store the lye and anything noxious).

Which is your favorite tool?
It’s a toss-up between my stick blenders and silicone spatulas.

Do you want to share with us one secret of your studio?
Half-folding 6-foot tables which can expand work space as needed and for multiple tasks. They store as a 3×3-foot and have handles.

How many hours do you normally spend in your studio?
It varies. I’ve never really kept track. Sometimes for hours at a stretch. On other days, I mostly am designing labels, or doing more mundane tasks, some only time spent to pack orders. If there’s a downside to owning my own business, it is that the mundane stuff interferes with my creative time.

Is there anything you would add to your working space?
My wish list is long. For starters, more space/rooms would be fantastic. More organized storage would be nice too. In my fantasies, I dream of a full lab set up.

If you had to choose one synonym for your studio which one would you pick: atelier, family room, lair, lodge, nest, playroom, retreat, sanctuary, shelter, darkroom, or showroom and why?
None of those seem to fit. It’s my creative workspace.

And last but not least how often do you clean it?
I clean after each session.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I love having the opportunity to create and share nice-smelling products that are gentle on the skin, made from scratch and give others pleasure. My studio time makes me happy.

Thank you, Hiromi! Until next studio snooping, ciao!

If you have an interesting studio or workspace and some tips to share, add your photos to our new flickr pool and you may be next in our Open Studio Tour series! For more on how handmade soap is made, check our Process video with beyondthepicketfence.


  • Wunderkind

    Wunderkind said 8 years ago

    I love Haunt products...and those honey bear soaps! How cute! So glad for these articles....with two little ones there is barely enough time to do my mom-duties, let alone the things I really want to do (ahem, shop) so I love that you find great stuff for busy working mommmy's like me to heart!

  • michon

    michon said 8 years ago

    Great article, looking forward to seeing more studios!

  • LaveMeSoapCo

    LaveMeSoapCo said 8 years ago

    oooh once i move i would love to show off my new studio, vegas style ;)

  • gloilocksandbody

    gloilocksandbody said 8 years ago

    Oh nice! I look getting to peek into other soapers space :D

  • gloilocksandbody

    gloilocksandbody said 8 years ago

    Ahem, I mean, LOVE! Not look. Aghh!

  • adoreneko

    adoreneko said 8 years ago

    Thanks so much for the soap tour! Love all the bath and body products on Etsy.

  • SundraSandrusi

    SundraSandrusi said 8 years ago

    Great article!!!!!!!

  • Morado

    Morado said 8 years ago

    Always wondered how soap was made....i mean what the studio would be like. I love taking a peek into other artist's studios!! Mine is my dining table..hehe

  • BeyondThePicketFence

    BeyondThePicketFence said 8 years ago

    I just got a new stick blender, it was the best present i eve bought myself ;) Great space!!

  • beautifulbridget

    beautifulbridget said 8 years ago

    I absolutely LOVE the handmade soaps offered on Etsy!!

  • satellitedaisy

    satellitedaisy said 8 years ago

    soap makes me happy!

  • SimpleTraditions

    SimpleTraditions said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing soap! You shop looks awesome!

  • BodyDelibyShelly

    BodyDelibyShelly said 8 years ago

    Great all handmade soaps. I use the basement for storage and kitchen to make my wonderful products.

  • KisforCalligraphy

    KisforCalligraphy said 8 years ago

    I love "soap"!!!!

  • elizandaxel

    elizandaxel said 8 years ago

    This is great! I love seeing the artist's actual studio! :)

  • SarahLynneDesigns

    SarahLynneDesigns said 8 years ago

    Awesome! I love Soap's goodies and I am addicted to her Orange Clove Vanilla sent!

  • copperlilly

    copperlilly said 8 years ago

    What a great soapmaking space!

  • Fishstikks

    Fishstikks said 8 years ago

    Love the peak into your space, how fun!! I agree those little honey bear soaps are adorable!! I've always had a hard time resisting the need to buy TONS of the fabulous soap I see here on etsy. You soapers are fabulous!!

  • AlchemicMuse

    AlchemicMuse said 8 years ago

    Thank you for the studio peek! I especially love seeing other soap spaces :)

  • BlackStar

    BlackStar said 8 years ago

    woohoo soap! great read~ xoxo

  • HarrietsHaven

    HarrietsHaven said 8 years ago

    I've always been fascinated with soap-making. They always look so yummy! I also love this series and seeing how others set up their creative spaces!

  • HansenSoapCo

    HansenSoapCo said 8 years ago

    Wish I had my own space, or even my own shop. Ah to dream ;)

  • susiesattic

    susiesattic said 8 years ago

    OOOH so nice ( If my work room was presentable , I could show you how to make stamps but its not, I don't let anyone in there :) to be organised oh well . glad to see someone is :)

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the tour and insight into " Soaps " studio space, great products too.

  • aBreathofFrenchair

    aBreathofFrenchair said 8 years ago

    Great interview!! Her soaps look delicious! *omg, those honey bear soaps are adorable!

  • 2ReVert

    2ReVert said 8 years ago

    LOVE LOVE LOVE Hiromi's SOAP!!! It's so smooth and soft and it lasts forever! Love it. Thanks so much for sharing your workspace... I enjoy seeing the inside. xo, 2ReVert PS... the smells are wonderful as well. :)

  • ventichai

    ventichai said 8 years ago

    great article, love the look of the soaps:)

  • IlluminatedPerfume

    IlluminatedPerfume said 8 years ago

    Love having a peak into the different studios. What a fabulous idea!

  • beCoy

    beCoy said 8 years ago

    Love seeing where other people work. Great!

  • beadstyle

    beadstyle said 8 years ago

    Lots of soap selections....really cool! :)

  • stamp

    stamp said 8 years ago

    I love seeing how people work. Great article, I look forward to more.

  • allisajacobs

    allisajacobs said 8 years ago

    Love this series idea, I'm intrigued by it all. Thanks!

  • injeanuity

    injeanuity said 8 years ago

    Very interesting tour - thanks!

  • BGBJewelry

    BGBJewelry said 8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing the tour, and love all the yummie selection afterwards!

  • soap

    soap said 8 years ago

    yay, I got that batch of favors out :) The third photo shows the block before I cut it down to what's in the 1st pic where I start stamping halves. :)

  • EmbraceItDesigns

    EmbraceItDesigns said 8 years ago

    Really neat to read about. Thanks giving us a peak into your creative space.

  • zeropumpkin

    zeropumpkin said 8 years ago

    so cool

  • LisaCoutts

    LisaCoutts said 8 years ago

    I love the chance to peek at creative spaces! Lovely soaps - I felt like I could smell them.

  • mybirch

    mybirch said 8 years ago

    Wonderful Article! Makes me want to go soap right now!

  • vivilian

    vivilian said 8 years ago

    this is so great!

  • mojospastyle

    mojospastyle said 8 years ago

    this is a great idea to see workrooms. It nice to see where all the magic happens. Great for organization ideas. It really makes to want to buy soap because I felt like I was in on the process. Great pictures! Love it!

  • BluCille

    BluCille said 8 years ago

    Wow, that looks really neat.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 8 years ago

    So nice!

  • MirthQuakeClothing

    MirthQuakeClothing said 8 years ago

    Looking at this makes me hungry! If only they were edible!

  • Art2ArtColorado

    Art2ArtColorado said 8 years ago

    This was great to read! Thanks for the peek into the cool world of Etsy soapers!

  • akaCINDERS

    akaCINDERS said 8 years ago

    What a dream, to get out of my living room and into a studio!

  • SeattleSundries

    SeattleSundries said 8 years ago

    Great tour! I love seeing how other soapmakers work!

  • younghairlove

    younghairlove said 8 years ago

    you have to stop to try to make ME do soaps beacause i would just simply make a huge mess, spend lots of money AND END UP EATING IT AND AT THE HOSPITAL.

  • younghairlove

    younghairlove said 8 years ago


  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 8 years ago

    I had no idea about the soap making process, this was fascinating. There are so many wonderful soap makers on Etsy!

  • SpiritedWoodland

    SpiritedWoodland said 8 years ago

    What a cool story! I totally enjoy the behind the scenes studio stories. More please... It's addicting - just like the FAB soaps on Etsy!

  • pinkdandyshop

    pinkdandyshop said 8 years ago

    Those honey bear soaps are super cute!

  • SoapScentsations

    SoapScentsations said 8 years ago

    oh, lovely shop! Is there ever enough storage!?

  • soap

    soap said 8 years ago

    There's NEVER enough storage space! :)

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 8 years ago

    Very nice article

  • EJPcreations

    EJPcreations said 8 years ago

    Great article!!! Such a noble craft!

  • CutieDynamite

    CutieDynamite said 8 years ago

    Love looking behind the scenes! Great article!

  • FluteTeacher

    FluteTeacher said 8 years ago

    I love handmade soaps!

  • bijougirldesigns

    bijougirldesigns said 8 years ago

    I love seeing people's studios! Great article.

  • TheCraftyRagamuffin

    TheCraftyRagamuffin said 8 years ago

    I always love reading about other soapmakers and their processes. For now I make soap only for myself and as gifts because it is a process that I could gladly give over my life to! I learned how to make soap from a really incredible woman who was generous enough to share her secrets. Thanks for sharing this article!

  • shoofly

    shoofly said 8 years ago

    This is great, soap makes my favorite soap on Etsy!

  • turtlemountaingifts

    turtlemountaingifts said 8 years ago

    Wonderful products, they look simply delicious... Thanks for sharing

  • SpaTherapy

    SpaTherapy said 8 years ago

    Awesome article! Love seeing how other soapers organize their soap rooms!

  • pinkboxstudio

    pinkboxstudio said 8 years ago

    it would be cool if we could upload pix of our workspaces/studios on our profile page- we all love looking into other artists spaces as much as we love the products that come out of them!

  • soap

    soap said 8 years ago

    Aw, thanks everyone!

  • glorygifts

    glorygifts said 8 years ago

    I love handmade soaps! Such a luxury! Yours look lovely!:)

  • SpaGoddess

    SpaGoddess said 8 years ago

    Simply Gorgeous!! I love reading about people's creativity;)

  • Lunatiger

    Lunatiger said 8 years ago

    I always love to learn how an artisan works at their crafts. Lovely! ^_^

  • tiinateaspoon

    tiinateaspoon said 8 years ago

    It's so lovely to get a peek into Hiromi's creative space. I can't wait to get more wonderful lotions and potions from this lovely lady!

  • alittledream

    alittledream said 8 years ago

    Wow such beautiful soaps waiting to be cut. Great article and I LOVE to see other work spaces. You can NEVER have enough space. My husband gave me a whole room, but it is still not big enough. I have things crammed all over. Ack, need more, always more. lol

  • candiceashment

    candiceashment said 8 years ago

    Very impressed with studio and product!

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