Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Folkways invests Leisure time in soap



Amy Stout Leisure’s bachelor’s degree was in art, but it’s a safe bet it didn’t encompass all the things she does now.

“At Ozark Folkways, I’m currently weaving rugs to sell,” she begins. “I’m also a potter and teach pottery classes at Ozark Folkways. We’ve made leaf platters and creative toad houses, [and] there’s a leaf platter class scheduled for August.

“I make lotions and have just created a shampoo bar recipe that will be ready soon to add to the soap I sell at Ozark Folkways,” she goes on. “I like to sew creative things. I decorate the trees on our driveway with gnome doors decorated with woodsy items. I like to crochet and am learning to knit better. I like to make things for the garden and make rock walls and walkways.”

Then she adds as an afterthought: “I minored in vocal music, and my husband and I sing together for church, shut-ins, the VA, Fayetteville [Farmer’s] Market, at the Winslow market Saturday mornings and at Ozark Folkways.” Dave Leisure and Dan Dean lead Squirrel Jam, the popular monthly musical jam session in Winslow.

At this particular moment, Leisure — who retired to Winslow with her husband — is focused on soap making because she’s teaching a class on it Aug. 10 at Ozark Folkways, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, development, instruction and celebration of regional arts and crafts.

Leisure says her mother made lye soap while she was growing up in northwestern Oklahoma, but “I never learned her recipe.” It was, she recalls, unscented.

“I didn’t get interested in making soap until my husband tried it right before we were married,” she continues. “He picked up some beef fat from a local butcher and heated it to extract the tallow. (I imagine my mom did the same thing.) He said it smelled bad and took a long time.

“On our honeymoon we found a book on all vegetable herbal soaps by Sandy Maine,” she continues. “It looked very simple, and I loved the herbs and fragrances you could add, so I decided that I would make my soap animal friendly with only vegetable oils. It doesn’t go rancid, and it doesn’t change the scents.

“After trying a few recipes and doing research on oils, I developed my own and have been using the same recipe for years. You can customize it by adding herbs, scents, swirls, or colors and get creative with packaging.”

Leisure says she doesn’t “think I’m really telling any secrets when I teach the class. There’s many great books and websites that explain the process. I believe the people that come to the class just want to see someone go through the process and ease their fears on working with lye,” which she admits is caustic and can be harmful if not handled properly.

In the class, she says, students will make a batch of soap using the same book the couple found on their honeymoon.

“It has ingredients you can get at the local supermarket with three oils, lye and water,” she enumerates. “You mix the lye with the water in one container and heat the oils in another. After they cool to the same temperature, you mix them together and stir and stir until you get a trace. Then it’s ready to pour into a mold. That sits for three to four days, then you cut it and let the bars cure for about six to eight weeks. Then it’s ready to use!”

Leisure says she finds soapmaking rewarding — and she thinks her students will, too.

“Besides making what they came for, there’s always one objective for my classes. We will have fun doing it!”



Intro To Soapmaking

WHEN — 9 a.m.-noon Aug. 10

WHERE — Ozark Folkways in Winslow

COST — $40

INFO — 634-3791

FYI — The class will refer to “The Soap Book : Simple Herbal Recipes” by Sandy Maine.

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