There is a great story behind each of my handcrafted soaps and what inspires me to design each soap, but one that stands out the most is the story behind my Texas Pecan Soap.
“The Other Place/The Bottom”
Since the late 60s, there has been this special piece of land in my family called "The Bottom" or "The Other Place". It's tucked away about 35 miles north of Houston in the Sam Houston National Forest separate from the land my grandparent's live on, hence "The Other Place." Each grandchild and great grandchild has had the privilege of riding with grandpa in his truck down a long, winding dirt road that leads to complete tranquility.
The front entrance sits high on a hill and is a wide open spacious pasture for the cows to roam free and at "the bottom" are ponds for fishing.
Beyond the ponds is another pasture, but at one time was rows and rows of pine trees that were hand planted by my grandfather when I was a child. Every 15-20 years, he plants these pine trees to be used as lumber when they are mature enough.
Among all of the beauty of the winding road, fence line and throughout the pasture are some 200 pecan trees that have been meticulously grafted by my Grandpa Kenneth.
I have even had the pleasure of having him teach me to graft a tree or two - a memory I can never replace and will always treasure.
Grandpa's candid selfie as he said, "What in the world are you doing?"
Grafting is a technique to join parts from two plants so they grow as a single plant. During the spring months, twigs with buds from a good fruit producing pecan tree can be clipped to used to graft a tree or they can be frozen, which will make them dormant until they are ready to be grafted.
Once a tree is grafted, then comes the hard part..waiting. Just like life lessons, good things come to those who wait. In a month or two, the grafted tree should start to heal and grow together, and approximately 1-4 years a grafted tree will start to sprout fruit.
But 200 grafted trees!? Why so many? It's the pure joy, accomplishment, hard work and best of all, rewards! BUT sometimes a tree just don't take off and there are so many obstacles to consider. It could be uncontrollable mother nature and even if the graft union did not stay intact. So it can be a roll of the dice and you wait and pray for it to take off!
We grafted my pecan tree in 2014 and it's located on the long driveway at the entrance of my grandparent's house. Each time I visit, I slow down long enough to check on it, talk to it and admire it.
Pecans grow during the late spring or early summer. During the early fall months, it's time to harvest and you will find grandpa sitting under his covered patio shelling pecans. He lays them out to dry in the Texas sun, packs them in freezer bags to store in the deep freezer for all to enjoy. There's nothing like going to grandma and grandpa's and leaving with a fresh bag of pecans for the road!
Keeping the Memory Alive
One summer I brought home some of his freshly shelled pecans and saved 8 pecans to make a soap mold of them using Mold Builder Liquid Latex.
Using a small, shallow cardboard box, approximately 4”x4”, I glued the pecans to the bottom and poured the mixture to cover the pecans about ½ inch. After 24 hours, I removed the cardboard box and the mold is good to go!
Melt and pour or cold-process soap can be used to make the pecan soap embeds. Check out my basic cold process soap recipe!
I now have a constant reminder of where I come from and the time spent with my grandfather, by making Texas Pecan Soap!
I love this story Ashley.