Posted on Leave a comment

Studio Renovation Day 13

studio sans partitions
Goodness, do I really have ALL that space?


We’re almost 2 weeks into the studio renovation now. The carpeting and vinyl tiles were stripped within a day, then my contractor and I spent an afternoon marking the intended positions of all the room partitions using a pretty nifty little tool that looks quite similar to this:

Taut line ink marker

It works by pulling a string that’s wound in a spool, through the round chamber that is filled with ink, holding it taught on the ground over the straight line that you want to mark, and then snapping the taut line against the floor, thereby leaving a nice straight line in ink on the surface. To prep it for the next use, the string is simply wound back onto the spool using a little crank on the side of the box. This was completely new to me, so I was quite happy to keep playing with it by helping to mark the rooms!

A few days later the carpenter came and took all the necessary measurements for the partitions and doors, and very confidently told me he would be back in 2 days (i.e. that very Saturday) to begin installing the partitions. And he really did begin work on time:

141019 partition frames

By Sunday morning most of the frames for the rooms were installed. Notice that quite a lot of my stuff is still in the studio–I feel a bit bad for making the workers have to manoeuvre around them and also shift the really heavy stuff all over the floor as they complete different jobs in stages, but I didn’t really have any other reasonable alternative for storage.

I also discovered some (hopefully) unintentional ‘line art’:

photo 4

I made sure that the contractor was alerted to this, and that all wiring must be done in lines that are either parallel or perpendicular to the floor. Still – seeing this crazy thing made me laugh. :p

Now the rooms look more or less like this:

141023 rooms

That’s the washing up room on the left, the weighing and dispensing room to the right, and the mixing and moulding room closest to you on the right. Plastering is being done to smooth out the surfaces of the gypsum boards, and sockets are being added to the walls.

And what did we do about the packaging room, to which I wanted to allow as easy an access as possible? Instead of sliding partitions / doors which would have cost a bomb, my contractor suggested installing double doors instead:

141023 packaging room

They can swing open flat against the partitions, which affords a nice open feel to a room that would have otherwise been really cramped (half the space will be occupied by our shrink wrapping machine). Same function for one fifth of the original price. Sweet!

I’ve bought 18 pendant light fixtures for the electrician to install. Looking forward to my next visit this coming week. 🙂



Posted on Leave a comment

Studio Renovation Day 1!

Friday, October 10th 2014–we’ve officially begun renovation of our production studio! Our contractors are terrific, they came in over the past few days to go over the final details, shift whatever barang (belongings) that I wanted moved to the shop downstairs (including our 85kg shrink wrapping machine and curing racks), and tidied away all the mess I left behind to be tossed out of the studio. It feels GREAT to clear out all the junk from the cupboards and shelves!

We opened up the emergency stairwell, found a good locksmith who replaced all the broken locks and swapped out padlocks.

On Saturday the wrecking crew came in to start removing the carpet tiles, vinyl flooring and the existing partitions. Can’t wait to see what the space looks like on Monday!

Posted on Leave a comment

Updates: October 2014

Goodness, things have been whizzing past me and I haven’t really had time to keep you all informed about what’s happening on our end! Sorry about that. I trust that you all have been keeping well, yes? 🙂

So here’s what’s been happening recently:

Studio renovations to begin on Tuesday, October 7th.

141006 curing rack

I met with our contractor earlier this morning (yes, despite it being a public holiday–I guess we’re both as excited about getting this project off the ground!). We’ve talked about deadlines, aiming to reopen the studio in mid November–so he’s promised to do all he can to help me achieve that target. The total renovation cost is looking to be at around RM45,000, not including some extra fittings like a good water filter and (maybe) a new air conditioning unit (which I’m trying my best to avoid purchasing).

In the meantime I’ve been trying my best to churn out enough stock to last us till November, and hopefully into the Christmas season as well. The prospect of shutting down production for 6 straight weeks is terrifying (I’ve never been without my soaping equipment and essential oils for so long!), but it needs to be done. The upside from this is that I will be forced to concentrate on doing up my filing system and paperwork in readiness for the studio’s reopening, and hopefully also dedicate more time to my poor children who have been going for days without me at home for 80% of their waking hours. My guilt is gnawing away at me. :”)

Christmas Warmth soap on the curing rack!


These turned out to be phenomenally difficult to cut–partly because I left them in their molds for more than 24 hours, and partly because I used a soap recipe that was geared towards hardness and a longer-lasting bar. It took me 20 minutes to get the first slab through the log slicer. 20 minutes of huffing, heaving and pushing with all my might–for a single slab. Lessons learned: either cut the soap earlier if using a hard soap formulation, or opt for a softer formulation. Bumping up the water content should also keep the soap mixture from tracing too quickly, but I would only opt for this if I am certain of having at least 6 weeks of curing time available for the soap.

The end result was worth all the effort though! 🙂 I’m very happy with how they’ve turned out, and the scent is lovely. They have different designs, but all the soap bars have the same, welcoming, warm and spicy scents of clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, sweet orange and just a touch of peppermint. I’ve made 3 batches this year–I hope that will be sufficient.

 Plans for the next 6 weeks

141006 Lucy

I would really, really like to be taking a bit of a breather… So I will, for a few days, so I can recharge ahead of the busy holiday season ahead. The kids are going to LOVE that mummy will be home for more hours in a day for a change! 🙂 Gotta schedule some time to also catch up on a bit of sketching, mending of the kids’ clothes, tending to the garden, thinking about the coming year.

Apart from that there’s all the background, unglamorous administrative work that needs sorting out. I have a couple of new corporate clients to get properly acquainted with, and there’s also the question of hiring a part-time production staff. Finding a suitable candidate will be an interesting pursuit. I haven’t heard anything on my FB feed about people being interested in doing crafty kinds of work for a living (unless it’s to run their own business), so I’m preparing myself to reach out beyond my natural connections to find that special someone (or could you be the person I’m looking for? Write to me!)

How am I feeling?

A little overwhelmed, to be frank. :”) But it’s okay. Nothing that a good night’s rest can’t fix. I’ve found that one of my most effective coping mechanisms when it comes to managing stress is to engage in physically demanding activities like this. What’s yours?