This feature highlights all the crafties in Maine who don’t necessarily have a physical shop or an online presence other than Etsy (www.etsy.com) which is like an online open craft fair that allows users to sell vintage items, handmade items that are modified, as well as unique, (sometimes downright wacky) handcrafted art.
Hazelnut Vanilla Coffee Latte - Cold Process Soap with Cocoa and Shea Butters
This Maine-made soap looks so good, the kids won’t mind you washing their mouths out with it.
This olive oil-based cold process soap starts with lots of olive oil. I then add coconut oil, palm oil, soybean oil, jojoba oil, safflower oil, cocoa and shea butters. This makes a super moisturizing and wonderfully lathering bar of soap. As for the scent, I made this soap from real, fresh-brewed coffee in both vanilla and hazelnut blends. I have also added real ground coffee and vanilla. This makes a nice exfoliating bar of soap as coffee is known to be great for eliminating odors and combating cellulite. I then topped this soap off with a light sprinkling of ground coffee.
I got introduced to making handmade soaps by a friend and became instantly addicted to it! My favorite types of soaps to make are made from beverages. I find myself standing in the tea and coffee aisles of my local co-op, just looking at everything and imagining what kind of soap they would make. I do the same thing with beer and wines. I also hoard all types of organic herbs and essential oils to include in my soaps. This Hazelnut Vanilla Coffee Latte soap you see here is one of my absolute favorites. I make my own homemade café au lait and I wanted this soap to look and smell similar, with thick, frothy milk on top. Hopefully I have captured that real-life likeness in this soap and others that I have made.
To find this product on Etsy look up listing #62488452
Yvonne Smith is well known as a coffee roaster for Rock City Coffee (and in fact, was a presenter at Pecha Kucha this past month) but after having guessed the “How Well Do You Know Midcoast Maine” photo contest correctly, she decided to put The White Hot Spotlight on yet another creative hobby of hers—winemaking.
About Yvonne: I moved here 13 years ago and this is what the Midcoast has taught me: I can’t imagine living anywhere else; careful what you say because people will pee their pants or spit out their drink very easily around here. Things can get crazy fast, but a good crazy.
Q: Besides coffee roasting, you enjoy wine making. Tell us how you got into it.
A: I started after I moved to Maine and mostly make an old farm-style blueberry wine. My partner had started working for this couple that had a big blueberry farm. They gave me the recipe and the blueberries the first year. It took me a couple of years before I realized this was an older recipe—it may have even come about during Prohibition. Everything in the recipe calls for items that will boost the alcohol content. I started researching and started collecting wine-making books. I now understand where to change the recipe to enhance the flavor, but reduce the alcohol content. I love reading the old recipes—those people were inventive.
Q: What are your secrets?
There are so many different ways to make wine—fruit wine, grape wines. Some are fast and only drinkable for a couple of months—some take a year before they go into the bottle and then age for another year before you can drink them. The only grape wines I do come in kits, so for the fruit wines I usually go and pick the fruit as it’s fresh, mash it up with sugar or honey, add water and yeast, then wait for Mother Nature to work her magic. Or as the Brew Chem 101 book instructs, “let the yeast eat the sugar and poop out alcohol.” I always loved the line, and often use when explaining about brewing.
Q: Is wine making soothing after a day of coffee roasting or is it more difficult?
It is soothing. I mean, my first rule after I make sure all the ingredients are on hand, is to open a bottle of something. Relax, enjoy. I am doing it for myself, and I can spend several days out picking fruit, which can involve spending time with friends, just getting ready to make wine.
Q: Do you do wine tastings for your friends?
A: Yes, friends have tried it, but at one point I had a crappy roommate who was an alcoholic and drank all my wine—so nobody got to try it! Mostly, when I have wine, I will bring a bottle with me to any function that I am invited to. Most of the fruit wines I make are sweeter—my personal preference. So I usually open them for dessert, but they’re also good for Sunday brunches. The blueberry wine is best on hot summer days, when you don't have to go anywhere, just sipping it over a little ice. It totally changes the flavor to something that is really refreshing.
Camden resident Lisa Tapken has a weird fascination with light bulbs. They intrigue her. She collects them. She is technically a bulb collector—and yes, there is such a thing. She does not put any of them over her head and say “I have an idea,” however. This is the story behind her obsession with light bulbs.
Light bulb Assembly [photo: 1]
It all started with this big one in the middle. I found it at an antique place in New Hampshire. I loved its shape and the filaments inside. It was so delicate. And they all just started happening after that. After I found the first one, every time I’d go somewhere I’d just started noticing light bulbs in a way I hadn’t noticed them before.
Bird In Bouquet [photo: 2]
I started looking at these Aerolux Tube Light Bulbs online. There were some that were hundreds of dollars and they had all different logos inside them. But there were a few of these featuring what’s called “bird in bouquet,” which are essentially birds surrounded by flowers. I was so surprised when I first plugged it in. I didn’t even know it would light up.
Rose [photo: 3]
I just became addicted to these Aerolux bulbs and this one I bought through an artist’s site. I just loved the metal within the bulb. And when it lit up, all these colors popped out. I started researching them and found out how they were made. I think this one might be from the 1950s. They’re starting to make reproductions now, but I can’t imagine they’d be as beautiful as these old ones.
Lightbulb Man [photo: 4]
As you can see, I have an addiction to lamps. I used to live in a converted sail loft and I designed a whole wall of shelves 30-feet long with outlets behind it for small lamps. I’d just flip a switch and the entire shelf would come on. Anyway, the whole thing with Lightbulb Man is that I saw him in some junk store and it made me laugh. I brought it home and rewired it. I added the screw cap (the threaded base of the bulb that secures it to a lamp) and I gave him his light bulb head. Eventually, I’m going to make little lamps like night lights that plug into his tummy.
The Killer Convo
This blog is a is a killer roundup of all arts, entertainment, brewery & distillery, food trucks, happy hour happenings in the Midcoast Maine. Feel free to email me anything about Midcoast arts, entertainment & the creative economy.