Design Curator: Two Documentaries for the Artsy Christmas List

Christmas is coming, chestnuts are roasting over an open fire, and the shopping craze has begun. If you want to add something to your Christmas list or need a gift idea for the art lovers in your life here are two documentaries worth buying.

Mad Men fans who have fallen in love with Don Draper and the three-martini lunch will love Art & Copy. The world of advertising is not just the face of every manipulative salesperson, but the brains of brilliantly creative minds.  George Lois, Mary Wells, Dan Wieden, Lee Clow, Hal Riney and others featured in Art & Copy were responsible for “Just Do It,” “I Love NY,” “Where’s the Beef?,” “Got Milk,” “Think Different,” and more. This documentary is not just about advertising, but about inspiration and a dynamic impact on culture and society. Starting from the “creative revolution” of the 1960’s, film director Doug Pray exposes some of the most influential advertising creatives of our time.

If you want to be outraged this Christmas watch The Art of the Steal. This documentary uniquely impacts us, because it takes place right here in our hometown. According to 37-year-old documentary filmmaker, Mr. Don Argott, Philadelphia is the thief.   His controversial documentary relays the story of intrigue, politics, and the art world surrounding an art collection owned by the deceased Albert C. Barnes.

Barnes was born in 1872 and made his fortune in business but kept his focus on collecting Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and early Modernist paintings. In 1922 Barnes set up the Barnes Collection in a unique way. His art was not categorized by time period, school of art or artist, but by aesthetic appeal.

The Barnes Collection is worth billions, and Mr. Barnes made sure to preserve his wishes for the collection in his will. To find out what ensued, you’ll need to watch…

Elizabeth Wann {Writer & Designer}

Melt and Pour Soap-Making: the perfect DIY Holiday project

glycerin soap Looking for a really easy, inexpensive project that will produce a gift nearly everyone loves? Try your hand at melt & pour glycerin soap making. This is distinct from ‘true’ hot process and natural cold process soap-making, which is much more involved and more time consuming. In M&P soaps, you can work on a simple project that will take you a short amount of time. Take advantage of the relative ease and get creative! There are lots of really interesting M&P soapers on Etsy from whom to get some inspiration.  A lot of the fun comes from the molds you choose to use, the scents you add, the addition of botanicals in a clear glaze top, or the creation of fun and interesting designs such as this bacon and egg soap set.

One of the best parts of soap making is the inclusion of natural fragrance. My preference is always to use pure essential oils, which are the natural product of extracting (via steam distillation) the volatile oils from plants. I find synthetic fragrance oils to be cloying and irritating, and often unhealthy because of the addition of chemical fragrance fixatives such as “pthalates”, which have shown endocrine disruption in laboratory testing with mice.

The first step is finding Melt and Pour soap base. And then it’s as simple as that…you melt it and pour it into molds! I prefer to use organic soap base, such as Stephenson’s, as many bases are weighed down with more questionable ingredients such as sulfates, or often irritating chemical foaming agents.

organic melt and pour soap base

organic melt and pour soap base from KandleKaz.com

You will want to use a stainless steel (not aluminum) or enamel coated pot. Put on a double boiler for best results, but I’ve also done fine melting the base over the lowest possible stove-top setting. Just be sure not to walk away too long, as you don’t want the soap to come to a boil.

Stirring melt and pour soap base

Stirring melt and pour soap base

DIY Directions:
1. Melt 2 lb block over low heat. (Stir with a utensil designated for soap making.)
2. Once melted, remove from heat.

Adding essential oil blend to melted soap base

Adding essential oil blend

3. Add fragrance to desired strength. I prefer about 60 – 100 drops essential oil to 2 lbs soap. If you add too much fragrance it will affect the quality of the soap.

Added colorant to soap base

Add colorant to soap base

4. Add some colorant if desired. You can buy soap chips from suppliers or use natural powdered herbs such as turmeric, which creates a lovely butter to deep orange color, depending on how much you use. You can also try regular old food coloring.  Stir well until blended.
4. Pour into molds and allow to cool completely before popping out (an hour or two).
5. Wrap in cellophane to protect the glycerin, which is prone to “sweating” when exposed to humidity. I prefer to shrink wrap soaps, as they are best protected this way!

Variation:
1. Melt clear base in one pot and an opaque base in another. Add fragrance to both when removed from heat.

soap poured into molds

2. Pour a thin, clear layer into your molds and sprinkle some herbs or blossoms on top (lotus, chamomile, calendula, and rose, or lemongrass are all nice choices)
3. Once that is somewhat cooled down, pour the opaque base into the mold.

white base being poured into mold

white base being poured into mold

4. Cool, pop out of molds, and wrap in cellophane.

soap wrapped in celophane

Resources:
From Nature with Love (melt and pour soap, essential oils, fragrance oils)
Essential Wholesale (essential oils)
Bramble Berry Soap Soap Making Supplies (everything, including molds)
Sun Feather Natural Soap Company (everything, including molds)
organic orange soap scented with cardamom and other spices

Post written by Sarah Powell, proprietor of natural bath, body, and herbal product business, Lilith’s Apothecary.