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Process: Handmade Soap with BeyondThePicketFence

May 22, 2009

by objecked

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(music by Lineland)

Gwen Neucall of BeyondThePicketFence is not just a soaper, she’s her own scientist and R&D lab. One might go as far as to call her a bathmatician. Well, I would anyway, after visiting Middletown, New York, where Gwen lives with her husband and two dogs and whips up soap from scratch in her home studio.

Gwen was gracious enough (and fast enough) to walk me through her entire process of making her signature Working Woman soap start to finish. Prior to this I knew very little about soap, but I left feeling like an expert. For those unfamiliar to the drill, soapmaking is a very involved and complex process — one where ingredients that are mixed together have to be carefully timed, as well as carefully planned in order to mix properly with one another. I had no idea the level of danger involved in making something that seems so soothing to skin, but there are times in a soap’s early life when the soaper has to wear gloves in order to touch it. It takes a lot of research to dial in a great soap, and soap makers must really do their research as to what ingredients will mix well together and not fail. This results in not only a lot of reading, but also a great deal of hands-on trial and error.

For Gwen, it all started in 1996, when her mom  — desperate to figure out what to do with a large sum of essential oils about to go bad — decided to try her hand at soap making. Gwen walked in on her with buckets of soap, and that was the birth of a mother-daughter business that her mother eventually left to Gwen to run on her own. But I won’t steal her thunder, you can read more about that story in Gwen’s Profile.

Bath and Beauty Showcase | Bath and Beauty Category

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127 comments

  • cottonbirddesigns

    cottonbirddesigns said 10 years ago

    Great article, gorgeous soaps!

  • adoreneko

    adoreneko said 10 years ago

    Handmade soap is divine. Thank you for the intro!

  • magpiefelts

    magpiefelts said 10 years ago

    Beautiful soaps!

  • LaveMeSoapCo

    LaveMeSoapCo said 10 years ago

    Who is that hott stuff in that video????

  • LaveMeSoapCo

    LaveMeSoapCo said 10 years ago

    Oh hey! That is my soap!

  • swanmountainsoaps

    swanmountainsoaps said 10 years ago

    Gwen is not just an awesome soaper, but a truly great businessperson and an awesome friend. Yay BTPF!!!!!!!!

  • BathArtisanSoaps

    BathArtisanSoaps said 10 years ago

    Yay Gwen! Rockin' the video and rockin' the soap! Whoohoo!

  • LaveMeSoapCo

    LaveMeSoapCo said 10 years ago

    i am so proud of gwen i have tears!

  • weirdwolf Admin

    weirdwolf said 10 years ago

    I love seeing this process. Makes me want to become a soapmaker! Or at least buy some amazing handmade soaps from Gwen...

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 10 years ago

    This is cool!! Love those handmade soaps, look sooooo delicious!!

  • BeyondThePicketFence

    BeyondThePicketFence said 10 years ago

    (blushing) thanks everyone! and thank you Eric for a great video!

  • marymary Admin

    marymary said 10 years ago

    What a great piece, I really enjoyed watching this!

  • guymelamed

    guymelamed said 10 years ago

    how awesome is THAT!!!! YOU GO GWEN!!! Hudson Valley Etsyians in the house!!! :)

  • sewlola

    sewlola said 10 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! I am heading to your store now.

  • HomeStudio

    HomeStudio said 10 years ago

    My utmost respect to the handmade soap makers out there. Really incredible to watch the process. I think I'll stick with just being a BUYER of great handmade soaps. Very enjoyable to watch. Thanks for the vid!

  • cloud9designstudio

    cloud9designstudio said 10 years ago

    GREAT ARTICLE! THANKS!

  • millalove

    millalove said 10 years ago

    All fo the work that goes into soap! It makes me appreciate the whole process more AND wonder why it's so reasonably priced!? We should all take advantage of handmade soap!

  • millalove

    millalove said 10 years ago

    of*

  • OliveAndOud

    OliveAndOud said 10 years ago

    Great video! You did a fantastic job explaining it without getting overly technical. Congratulations!

  • SoapScentsations

    SoapScentsations said 10 years ago

    ((((Gwen!)))) you sound great/professional/well versed! this is a fabulous piece! Congrats and many happy sales!

  • copperlilly

    copperlilly said 10 years ago

    Yay Gwen!

  • SoapScentsations

    SoapScentsations said 10 years ago

    The handmade soap world is soooo proud today!

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo said 10 years ago

    Love handmade soap!

  • clodaghmolloy

    clodaghmolloy said 10 years ago

    Lovley feature. Really interesting to see how it is done. Thank you.

  • Vanessa Admin

    Vanessa said 10 years ago

    Oh, that's how soap is made! It had been so mysterious to me until I saw this. Soap is like magic.

  • LaveMeSoapCo

    LaveMeSoapCo said 10 years ago

    haha! yes magically addictive

  • foxandmoon

    foxandmoon said 10 years ago

    Congrats on your succesful piece!

  • zozca

    zozca said 10 years ago

    Very cool BTPF!! Great video!!!

  • PipocaHandmade

    PipocaHandmade said 10 years ago

    Great process piece! Those soaps look good enough to eat!

  • fineartstoneware

    fineartstoneware said 10 years ago

    Well, I just bought soap today-here! from Pinkparchment. so, of course I watched the video. Very interesting to see how another craft is done!

  • edor

    edor said 10 years ago

    hey.. I just whipped up my first batch of soap last night! It is indeed time/attention consuming and a little scary!

  • MyJunkyTrunk

    MyJunkyTrunk said 10 years ago

    I absolutely love handmade soaps! Great article!

  • dennisanderson

    dennisanderson said 10 years ago

    Ive always wondered how to make soap, and now I can give it a whirl :) lol j/k Great video.

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 10 years ago

    Great video and awesome story~ thanks for walking us thru the process of making handmade soap. Facinating~! Great shop Gwen and congrats on making this video for Etsy. Wish you continued success too~!

  • dennisanderson

    dennisanderson said 10 years ago

    Wanted to add, that there is many different methods of soap making. Hot Processed soap is just like cold processed, except for pouring the oils after trace right away, you cook them in a crockpot for 30-45 minutes and the soapbar could be cured within 2-7 days depending on percentages and water discounts.

  • KBShimmer

    KBShimmer said 10 years ago

    Yeah!! WTG BTPF, great job!

  • PacificParadiseSoap

    PacificParadiseSoap said 10 years ago

    Fabulous job Gwen, you make us so proud, you bathmatician! Hope this piece brings you many sales!!!

  • asundrynotion

    asundrynotion said 10 years ago

    Fascinating! I've been wanting to make my own laundry soap & this is just the inspiration I need. Good handmade soap really is the best & most economical in the long run. Thanks for this feature!

  • krugsecologic

    krugsecologic said 10 years ago

    Awesome article !!!

  • trudiedavies

    trudiedavies said 10 years ago

    I really enjoyed that video with my coffee on Saturday Morning. Thank you

  • CatalinaCalderon

    CatalinaCalderon said 10 years ago

    I suddenly want to take a long bath!

  • GalleryJuana

    GalleryJuana said 10 years ago

    handmade soap is the best. thanks for the wonderful read and video.

  • pulpsushi

    pulpsushi said 10 years ago

    Love it! Great job Gwen!

  • sudsbysarah

    sudsbysarah said 10 years ago

    Awesome article and video Gwen, go SAFEteam!

  • bellagracedesigns

    bellagracedesigns said 10 years ago

    Great Article!!!

  • SimpleTraditions

    SimpleTraditions said 10 years ago

    Great job with the video and great job explaining everything. You made all us soapers look awesome!!!

  • anniepoo

    anniepoo said 10 years ago

    yeah soap!!!!

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 10 years ago

    I love all the colors, textures, scents and shapes that soap makers are using. Thanks for keeping us clean with your creative ideas.

  • topsyturvydesign

    topsyturvydesign said 10 years ago

    yum.. soap always makes me hungry :) love this process series

  • Arctida

    Arctida said 10 years ago

    Very cool video! and yummy soaps :)

  • jared Admin

    jared said 10 years ago

    Wow, that was amazing! You really get sense of Gwen's passion and mastery of handmade soap. I loved watching this Process video just now. Thank you so much!

  • jared Admin

    jared said 10 years ago

    And the music was great!

  • Morado

    Morado said 10 years ago

    This is really awesome! Always wanted to know how making soap works. Great job!

  • TianaCHE

    TianaCHE said 10 years ago

    Absolutely marvelous vid! Awesome job Gwen!

  • VedaArts

    VedaArts said 10 years ago

    great video!

  • VintageShenanigans

    VintageShenanigans said 10 years ago

    Am I the only one who thinks these amazing handmade soaps look good enough to DEVOUR??!! I simply can't pick one favorite seller, they're ALL so unique and creative. Guess I'll have to try them all (hee hee).

  • VintageShenanigans

    VintageShenanigans said 10 years ago

    Oh! And what a totally terrific gift to bring to the hostess of a summer BBQ ;) - Or even a friend fresh out of the hospital, sweetest way to help them feel like themselves again.

  • zeropumpkin

    zeropumpkin said 10 years ago

    the soaps all look so yummy :P

  • Thistledelight

    Thistledelight said 10 years ago

    Wonderful piece Gwen and well deserved. Love it when the plight of us soapers is truly revealed. Very well done.

  • bedouin

    bedouin said 10 years ago

    thank you for sharing all these great looking soaps YUM!

  • ThreeFive18

    ThreeFive18 said 10 years ago

    i LOVE handmade soap!! wonderful picks!!

  • buttercupbloom

    buttercupbloom said 10 years ago

    that was really, really, really interesting. Great job, Gwen - you explained that so well & gave me even more appreciation for the process of soapmaking! Sweet.

  • vsimonds

    vsimonds said 10 years ago

    VintageShenanigans-- Whatever you do--don't make the mistake of not reading the feedback on every soaper's shop you visit!! There are some deceptively good looking ones--but, if you pay attention to their feedback--you'll avoid any problems. I learned that the hard way!!

  • HansenSoapCo

    HansenSoapCo said 10 years ago

    Woot!!! Way to go Gwen :) Awesome video. You look so cute with your mask and gloves ;) LOL!!

  • lovejujube

    lovejujube said 10 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! I want to learn making soap for a long time.

  • floraldots

    floraldots said 10 years ago

    You gotta love handmade soap. Great article

  • AmourAmi

    AmourAmi said 10 years ago

    I love handmade soap... Great video!!

  • harvestmoonbyhand

    harvestmoonbyhand said 10 years ago

    Really enjoyed watching the soap-making process!

  • AmiVegan

    AmiVegan said 10 years ago

    vsimonds on a crusade against soapies? I love all you soapies! You rock and probably smell awfully nice.

  • aktie9

    aktie9 said 10 years ago

    MMMM I love these soapers. I will be a customer for life! Never going to buy big box soap again!

  • silentlotus

    silentlotus said 10 years ago

    terrific video! i'm not a soaper, but i do love handmade soaps! i also gotta recommend reading feedback carefully- and to take into consideration the source before choosing not to buy due to negative feedback, when all other buyers have left glowing reviews!

  • aBreathofFrenchair

    aBreathofFrenchair said 10 years ago

    *waving to all my soapy friends! Congrats, Gwen, on an awesome soap video!!

  • magglepie

    magglepie said 10 years ago

    Great article and video! Shows all the awesome and hard work you soapers put into your products :)

  • savannahsoapkitchen

    savannahsoapkitchen said 10 years ago

    yay soap!

  • Sudstress

    Sudstress said 10 years ago

    Such a great job on that video! wOOt!

  • LovinHandmade

    LovinHandmade said 10 years ago

    Awesome Video Gwen. I loved watching it! You did an amazing job.

  • HeidisHandmades

    HeidisHandmades said 10 years ago

    Love it!!!!! Awesome video!!!! yay!!!

  • OakenstoneHandmade

    OakenstoneHandmade said 10 years ago

    Wonderful tutorial! Soap Rocks!

  • OliviaClare

    OliviaClare said 10 years ago

    Beautiful soaps! Its like a work of art. Great article!

  • MileEndSoapandCandle

    MileEndSoapandCandle said 10 years ago

    Great to see the soap sisters doing their thing. And nice to hear about the switch to natural colorants. Loved the video!

  • raisinlike

    raisinlike said 10 years ago

    I enjoyed this very much!

  • EllePdesigns

    EllePdesigns said 10 years ago

    wow I love these! Now I can feel better that I have tons of the same thing sometimes. Maybe I should learn to embrace it and instead of a clutterer, I can call myself a "collector"

  • GourmetSoaps

    GourmetSoaps said 10 years ago

    Yay BTPF!! Great video & beautiful soaps!!

  • aktie9

    aktie9 said 10 years ago

    @ Silentlotus: You have a way with words!

  • SIRENALUNA

    SIRENALUNA said 10 years ago

    That was a really nice video! I am a soaper too and I really appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a quality bar of soap. Thanks for representing for the natural soapers. Peace! LaLa

  • LuminousMom

    LuminousMom said 10 years ago

    awesome! I'm a soap maker too (but I dont sell my treasures yet) and I love seeing other peoples work spaces and processes! What a great shop!

  • hobocampcrafts

    hobocampcrafts said 10 years ago

    what a lovely shop! and local to me- thanks for sharing this!!

  • MetroGypsy

    MetroGypsy said 10 years ago

    Fascinating...I always was curious about the artists on Etsy who feature soap work. Nice!

  • CutieDynamite

    CutieDynamite said 10 years ago

    Wow, really cool!

  • ireneagh

    ireneagh said 10 years ago

    Love handmade soap! :)

  • ourfrontyard

    ourfrontyard said 10 years ago

    That video was fantastic....very informative...all natural soap is the way to go. I may never buy store bought again

  • IndigoRain

    IndigoRain said 10 years ago

    Beautiful soaps!

  • BlackbirdsCloset

    BlackbirdsCloset said 10 years ago

    i love to see friends skinyourin and laveme here!

  • Hartleysoap

    Hartleysoap said 10 years ago

    great video

  • AuntNancysSoap

    AuntNancysSoap said 10 years ago

    Good show, Gwen!! :)

  • BodyDelibyShelly

    BodyDelibyShelly said 10 years ago

    I really enjoyed. Handmade is always best!!

  • nomivintage

    nomivintage said 10 years ago

    That was Great!

  • SundraSandrusi

    SundraSandrusi said 10 years ago

    enjoyed watching this!!!

  • SomsStudio

    SomsStudio said 10 years ago

    Awesome video! Enjoyed every bit of it!

  • SpiritedWoodland

    SpiritedWoodland said 10 years ago

    Really fascinating.... What a science! Well done.

  • MoonMaidenSoap

    MoonMaidenSoap said 10 years ago

    GWEN!!! That turned out AWESOME ... what a great vid and hooray for SOAP! Woo hoo!

  • AnniesWearableArt

    AnniesWearableArt said 10 years ago

    It is so gracious of Gwen to share this process with everyone...soapmaking was such a fascinating mystery (to me at least!) It's so great to know now exactly how it's done! Many thanks Gwen and objecked and etsy for your hard work in bringing this to us!

  • LeslyeWrytes

    LeslyeWrytes said 10 years ago

    Wow! I'll never take soapmaking for granted again.

  • Signs

    Signs said 10 years ago

    Making soap is an interesting process!

  • vilte

    vilte said 10 years ago

    those soaps look delicious :)

  • theaxx

    theaxx said 10 years ago

    Ooooooo, I wish I had a bath...... to be deliciously calmed by the yummy products! thea. xx www.forthevisionaries.tumblr.com

  • LathersbyLinds

    LathersbyLinds said 10 years ago

    LOL love to see the soapy love!! This video rocks, i'm glad someone wanted to show how we do it!:D

  • happyhourcn

    happyhourcn said 10 years ago

    very nice

  • sage12888

    sage12888 said 10 years ago

    GREAT!!!!!

  • EJPcreations

    EJPcreations said 10 years ago

    Those pics make me relax just looking at them!! Makes me wish I was home in a nice hot bath.

  • miasophia

    miasophia said 10 years ago

    I've tried making soap....NOT as easy as they make it look, i assure you! I have a pantry with loads of oils on the bottom shelf; haven't been brave enough to try again! I'll just buy it here on etsy...much easier and nicer~

  • orchardfarmsoap

    orchardfarmsoap said 10 years ago

    wonderful! i love seeing peoples work space.

  • pomly

    pomly said 10 years ago

    Very cool. I always wondered about the mysterious soap making process. And wow - right in my hometown!

  • MGMart

    MGMart said 10 years ago

    Loved watching this video,as I was always facinated by soap making!! Thank you :) Marianna

  • stephaniek

    stephaniek said 10 years ago

    Really love that you are into the natural fragrances and colorants! Thank you for sharing!

  • TheFancyLamb

    TheFancyLamb said 10 years ago

    That video was absolutely fascinating! I have a newfound appreciation for soapmakers -- I never realized how complicated the process was! Well done Gwen!

  • museumshop

    museumshop said 10 years ago

    Very creative and fun to watch you making the soap.

  • cajata

    cajata said 10 years ago

    This soap makes me want to jump into the bath and use a whole bar! Yummy

  • MargaretLS

    MargaretLS said 10 years ago

    Not that I don't love all the completely awesome videos on Etsy, but you had to feature soap! I'm such a soap addict. *facepalms*

  • klaradar

    klaradar said 10 years ago

    Love handmade soap!Great video!

  • SudsNSuch

    SudsNSuch said 10 years ago

    Gwen, that video was awesome! Great job walking everyone through the process!

  • riskodesign

    riskodesign said 10 years ago

    Lovely soaps, great video!

  • TwoTreesBelgium

    TwoTreesBelgium said 10 years ago

    Makes me want to take a long soapy shower straight away!

  • alittledream

    alittledream said 10 years ago

    I just love how to videos. I love to see how other artists work in their studios doing what they do best. Great job. More please.

  • Fullearths

    Fullearths said 9 years ago

    Yaay beyond!!!!! soapmakers represent!! you did a great job!

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