Introduction: Rams Wool Soap

Wool is a wonderful fiber. It can be used to make clothing, bedding. It is also used in artistic pursuits. In this instructable it will be used in soap. This project began with the creation of a beer. Brothers Brewing Company made an oatmeal stout and called it Ramswool. That's when the wheels started turning, and the idea of making a soap incorporating both the beer, and wool from our amazing purebred Romney ram Ramses was born.

Supplies

Four lbs melt and pour soap base

Patchouli essential oil

Flaked oatmeal

A bottle of Brothers Brewing Company Ramswool oatmeal stout

Rams wool roving

Hammer and pestle

Cutting board

Long knife

Large wooden spoon

Large microwave safe vessel to melt soap base

Soap molds

Step 1: Acquire Wool

Well, I guess I could have gone out and bought some wool. That just isn't the way I do things. Meet Ramses our magnificent Romney ram. He's also a great dad.

Step 2: Remove Wool

I've watched my sheep being sheered for years. It looked easy enough. You just flip them over into a sitting position on a clean surface. They become quite docile in this position. Problem is getting them in this position takes a lot of practice. I was pretty much spent by the time I had achieved this feat. But I had won the argument with the big fella, so ahead I went with the rest of the job. Starting with the belly, being careful not to cut him, I worked away. My back was on fire by the time I had his belly done. I'm not as young as I would like to believe, this was killing me. The trick now is to work down the side tipping the animal just enough to shave up to the top of his back. There is unfortunately a point, where the animal isn't in that docile position any longer. When he decided he had reached that point I was no match for him. Of course, when he decided it was time to get out of my hold, my hand was in the wrong place. The sheers are quite sharp! The rest of the procedure was completed, with one gloved hand so as not to bleed on the wool. Also we remained standing. So what takes our regular sheering guy about 5 to 8 minutes, took me close to an hour. Not doing that again!

Step 3: Prepare the Wool

After washing and drying some of Ramses locks. They needed to be combed out. Wool combs and hackles are used for this purpose. My set uses two combs and a fixture clamped to a table. One comb is set into the fixture, wool locks are pushed onto the teeth. This is the hackle. The other comb is used to pull the fibers off the hackle. You lightly comb the tips of the fibers, pulling them off the hackle a bit at a time. As you do this any bits of organic matter fall to the floor. Small bits of fiber also fall off. When the hackle is empty, you swap the comb and hackle positions and do it again. After three or four times the fibers are nice and aligned ready for the next step.

Step 4: Make Roving

The Diz is a small tool with a hole in it designed to pull fibers into a roving. You just keep moving it back and forth as you pull the fibers through the hole. The object is to make a consistent density of wool rope. I roll them into bundles and set them aside as I continue combing.

Step 5: If You Weren't Making Soap

If you weren't making soap, you could spin the roving into yarn.

Step 6: What to Do With the Yarn

If you did spin the roving into yarn, you could spend hours learning to knit toe up socks in the round. That way your feet would be toasty while you made rams wool soap.

Lets go do that now.

Step 7: Lets Make Soap

Gather the ingredients. We will need to grind the oats roughly. 2 tbsp for each 1 lb batch.

Step 8: Melt the Base

Cut the soap base into smaller pieces. Microwave in one minute intervals stirring gently after each. We don't stir to quickly, we don't want to create bubbles.

Step 9: Prepare the Mold

While the soap is being microwaved, prepare the mold. Cut pieces of roving the width of the mold. Pull them apart slightly and place two layers into the mold.

Step 10: Mix Ingredients

Pour in the ingredients. The 1 tbsp of patchouli and the 2 tbsp of oatmeal first.

Step 11: Now the Beer

We have to work quickly now. The beer is cold and we don't want the soap to start to set. Once 1 tbsp of beer is added, stir gently avoiding bubbles, but mixing well.

Step 12: Pour

Carefully pour the contents into the mold. Go evenly making sure to get the entire bed of roving covered. Distribute the bits of oatmeal as evenly as possible. Once poured ,lightly adjust the oatmeal with the tip of the spoon if needed.

Repeat this entire process with the other three blocks of soap base.

Step 13: Enjoy

Now that the work, is done set the molds aside to cool for 24 hrs.

One benefit to this recipe is, there is enough beer left over for the soap master and helper to enjoy a glass.

Step 14: Remove From Mold

The next day remove the soap from the mold. Gently pull the mold sides away from the soap. Flip the mold over and press around the bottom. You can see the release happen on a clear mold like this. As you press, the block lets go and you see a color change as it does. Eventually the block drops and you can remove the mold.

Step 15: Mark and Cut

With all four blocks lined up evenly, We measure and score them for cutting. I have a long butchers knife for this process. I use a clean part of the knife for each cut. Between bars the knife is washed so it makes a clean cut. You can see the rams wool fibers peaking out of the cut edges. As you use the soap, these fibers will felt together. The wool acts as a built in washcloth. When the soap is gone you will be left with a little felt scrubber.

Step 16: Wrap and Label

The paper we are using to wrap the bars with came from the family homestead. It was used to wrap the news paper back in the 50's and 60's when I was a kid. My mother meticulously folded them and put them in a box in the basement. Thanks mom. We are offering the bars for sale at Brothers Brewing Company so we also made our own label. We totally ripped off their logo. I don't think they'll sue the mother.

Fiber Arts Contest

Participated in the
Fiber Arts Contest