Advice Needed for Soapy Speech

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KristaY

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I've been asked by one of our local gardening clubs to give a short talk on the use of plants in soap. All of the members of this club are also certified master gardeners so these guys really know their plants.

The talk is only 15-20 min and I can go in any direction I want as long as it's related to plants in some way. The more I think about soap making specific to botanicals, the bigger the topic gets. Should I go towards natural colorants, the use of EO's, natural additives like flower petals, seeds, ground nut shells? Should I go back in history and talk about the first soaps made? Should I talk about regional, tradional soap making like aleppo or nablus? Should I talk about the various plant oils used and how they're chemically changed in the soap making process? I just don't know! Since it's such a short presentation I think I need to talk about only one thing, but what?

So if you were going to give a short talk on the subject of soap and plants, what would you choose?
 

Viore

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I would briefly talk about how plant oils are used and changed in the soap making process, then go on to the natural colorants, EOs, and natural additives. It would show the gardeners a way they can use their plants in another product.
 

TeresaT

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15 minutes is actually a long time. Have you ever given a talk in front of a group of people before? It can seem endless! When I give a talk, I usually stick with the things I know well and am interested in/passionate about and build from there. I would explain the soap making process and the chemical changes that occur (assuming they did not know how to make soap). When talking about plants, I would go with infusions, colorants, and natural exfoliants. Explain that most botanicals turn brown in the soap, so using flowers and leaves as additives is not wise. The idea of mixing lavender buds into your lavender soap is great, until you realize it will turn into mouse turds; but sprinkling a few on top is good. I personally could not talk about one thing for 15 minutes unless I was an expert on the subject. I can talk hours on counterfeit vs genuine currency; but, that's what I do for a living.

I would plan the talk out completely in advance and practice it (with a timer) in front of a mirror. If it goes longer than the allotted time, I'd cut it back. If it's shorter than the allotted time, I'd add some stuff in where appropriate. That's what I used to do when I had to give a talk in Church. It makes it much easier and you'll be able to allot time for questions that way.
 

dixiedragon

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Will you have some kind of slide show? IMO, I would focus on things I could show - either photos of the soaps and/or sample bars. So my focus would be look and scent, with maybe the occasional very interesting tidbit.

I would also include information on some kind of simple project they could do if they were interested. For example, a tub tea - rose petals and lavender buds, and powdered milk of some kind (animal or vegetable).
 

KristaY

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Thanks for ideas!

Teresa, yes, I routinely speak in public so I'm comfortable with it. Depending on the venue and audience, I usually find some funny anecdotes to slide in here and there. If nothing else, I know they're listening when I hear laughter. :) But 15-20 minutes will only cover the tip of the soapy iceberg, so I'm going to have to pick my iceberg carefully. :)

Dixie, I really like your idea of tub tea. I know many of them are fanatic about their rose bushes and herb gardens so that would fit in perfectly. Going with that, I could type up a couple of recipes to give as hand outs.

They're also big on vegetable gardens and most have chickens. (I've heard one lady's talk called "Gardening with Chickens" which was fun and interesting). Taking that idea I could head toward using cucumbers, avocado, tomato paste, etc, in soap.

I'm not sure about a power point right now, but I do plan to make soap out of whatever I decide to talk about. I want them to be able to see, feel and smell whatever it is.

I'm on their schedule for the Nov meeting so I still have about a month to decide what to discuss and what to make.
 

lenarenee

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Having given a presentation last year, I agree that filling 15 - 20 minutes is going to be easy.

Picking a focus however is another matter.

I guess I would ask you what the purpose of this presentation is - why were you asked?

And the audience are gardeners - so they like to grow things, eat, stare at or smell the results of their work. What's going to interest them? Maybe how to incorporate veggies and botanical with soap making....carrot or other vegetable purees, infusing oils with botanicals for label appeal, and the limits of using lavender buds, flower petals and etc., because of what lye does.
 

reflection

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this sounds really cool. are you going to have someone record or video it so we can watch/listen too? :)

i have a book i love that takes a very whole plant approach to both soap & body products. you might want to do something similar in mentioning a few herbs that can be grown in their backyards and their various uses in soap/body products and then focus on one plant as an example. e.g. lavender & how it's good for skin issues by being antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, etc, then talk about infusing oils with lavender, mixing in lavender buds to soap or to decorate on top, using it in body products like salves and then finally using lavender EO which can be purchased. it sounds like you might want to do something like that but with roses showing all the ways they can use the rose plants that they grow and you could have samples of each (an infused oil, dried rose petals, rose EO if you have some, rose lotion, rose soap). the book i'm referring to is 100 easy homemade products for skin, health and home by jan berry. i just love this book and her whole plant philosophy, and if you look at the preview you can see some great examples.
 
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Susie

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I think I would give a very short overview of how plants are used at every stage of soapmaking, from base oils to EOs, to colorants. Just the barest overview, mind you. A sentence or two on each use with an offer to do more in depth talks later if folks are interested.
 
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