Our featured artist works in a medium different from most - she creates soap - and she is working in Barbados in the West Indies. Come and meet Amanda -
Briefly describe what you make?
I create handmade soaps and toiletries with an emphasis on using natural materials sourced from my homeland Barbados, the Caribbean and Africa.
What mediums do you enjoy working in most?
I love the cold-process technique for soap-making – the patience and precision required before the finished product is realized. I also like to use high quality natural soap bases sometimes because they can allow for a little more creativity, and you can also experiment a bit more with the more expensive essential oils when using soap bases. Essential oils can sometimes get destroyed by the heat in the cold-process soap-making. I love using natural ingredients in all of my soaps - such as essential oils, floral concretes and also sugar, tea, gourmet chocolate and coffee. I am constantly looking for new and unusual ingredients for my products.
How long have you been creating craft?
The soap-making for a little over five years. But I can remember as a child always trying to make something. Me and my sister would create our own little characters and story magazines at home with paper and pencil.
How did you get started?
I started out wanting to make candles. While working a 9 to 5 my soul was just yearning for something creative to do. While researching candle-making I came across a recipe to make soap. I gave it a try, loved how it came out and was hooked. I still have a piece of that very first soap I made – a pure olive oil soap. I am completely self-taught. I read a lot of books and articles on soap-making, experiment a lot, and also do a lot of research.
Where does the name of your shop come from?
At the moment my shop is self-titled.
What would you most want people to know about your work?
That each of my products really do have a soul and a history behind them. I use primarily natural ingredients in my products and the labor, talent and resources that it takes for various people around the world to cultivate and harvest some of these raw materials is humbling and inspiring to anyone who gets to use and create artistic products from them. Also I would never offer the public a product that I made unless I absolutely love it myself first. I test everything on myself and I am very choosy!
What words of advice do you have for other artists?
Don’t be afraid to experiment and be different, I sometimes have what starts out as a crazy idea for a product – but eventually I can work on it and it becomes something unique, rather than outrageous. You will know in your heart when you have got it right.
Also don’t neglect the business side of your craft. Dedicate as much time possible to your marketing, accounting and so on. Also try to network with other artists - the support and advice you gain can be invaluable.
Wonderful! Come and see all of the great things Amanda has to offer at her shop!
And did you know that I am running TWO SHOPS - Come and visit me at
Q Branch Ltd.