01-23-2017, 09:42 AM
#1
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
User Info
We often read threads about artisans, which soaps are the best, how we love artisan products etc.

Which makers are considered artisans? What expectations do we have from them?


Which are the differences between an artisan and a soap industry?

Is it the amount of soaps they make each month, the availability, how many people work for this company, is it a man or a woman who knows how to make good soap and nothing more, someone whose soapmaking is his/ her part- time job?

I'm asking because there are some so-called artisans who sell a few thousands of soaps each month, probably more soaps than some so-called soap industries.


It's a term that is often misused.

For example, why Razorock is considered artisanal, while Haslinger is not?

Or, why Saponificio Varesino is considered an artisan company and not a soap industry which makes soaps since 1945?

49 1,999
Reply
 01-23-2017, 10:05 AM
#2
User Info
Interesting question Nick, and I'm looking forward to seeing how guys deal with defining the term.  I started by looking at dictionary definitions of artisan.  According to what I found, an artisan is a skilled worker who makes things by hand.  Output or number of workers are not a part of this definition.  However, making things by hand does place a practical limit on how much one can produce.

I like this definition.  It gives you a simple, clear answer to whether any soap maker is an artisan.  If it's not made by hand, it's not artisan.

Of course, whether it's artisan or not has no bearing on the quality of the soap.

50 6,115
Reply
 01-23-2017, 10:39 AM
#3
User Info
(01-23-2017, 10:05 AM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Interesting question Nick, and I'm looking forward to seeing how guys deal with defining the term.  I started by looking at dictionary definitions of artisan.  According to what I found, an artisan is a skilled worker who makes things by hand.  Output or number of workers are not a part of this definition.  However, making things by hand does place a practical limit on how much one can produce.

I like this definition.  It gives you a simple, clear answer to whether any soap maker is an artisan.  If it's not made by hand, it's not artisan.

Of course, whether it's artisan or not has no bearing on the quality of the soap.
I agree with this statement,an artisan is somebody who makes things or stuff by hand and is not mass produced/factory made with machinery.

2 315
Reply
 01-23-2017, 10:44 AM
#4
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
User Info
(01-23-2017, 10:05 AM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Interesting question Nick, and I'm looking forward to seeing how guys deal with defining the term.  I started by looking at dictionary definitions of artisan.  According to what I found, an artisan is a skilled worker who makes things by hand.  Output or number of workers are not a part of this definition.  However, making things by hand does place a practical limit on how much one can produce.

I like this definition.  It gives you a simple, clear answer to whether any soap maker is an artisan.  If it's not made by hand, it's not artisan.

Of course, whether it's artisan or not has no bearing on the quality of the soap.

Ricardo, thanks. By that definition, we must reconsider which are indeed artisans. I highly doubt that most of the so-called artisans make soaps by hand.

You simply can't make hundreds or thousands of soaps by hand.

49 1,999
Reply
 01-23-2017, 11:47 AM
#5
User Info
(01-23-2017, 10:44 AM)nikos.a Wrote:
(01-23-2017, 10:05 AM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Interesting question Nick, and I'm looking forward to seeing how guys deal with defining the term.  I started by looking at dictionary definitions of artisan.  According to what I found, an artisan is a skilled worker who makes things by hand.  Output or number of workers are not a part of this definition.  However, making things by hand does place a practical limit on how much one can produce.

I like this definition.  It gives you a simple, clear answer to whether any soap maker is an artisan.  If it's not made by hand, it's not artisan.

Of course, whether it's artisan or not has no bearing on the quality of the soap.

Ricardo, thanks. By that definition, we must reconsider which are indeed artisans. I highly doubt that most of the so-called artisans make soaps by hand.

You simply can't make hundreds or thousands of soaps by hand.

Can soaps even be made strictly by hand? We could take this idea to another level, if we truly wanted to. Regardless of how any one manufacturer makes a soap, machinery or some other "device" is most likely used. This definition seems much to vague. I would guess there are very few things that can be completely made "by hand".

I would say that output and the number of workers are the defacto parameters that define an artisan with respect to soap artisans. These are the 2 parameters that I've seen countless times as the definition of an artisan with respect to soaps, razors, brushes, etc.

0 122
Reply
 01-23-2017, 11:50 AM
#6
User Info
I totally ignore it or see it as a negative. I don't see soap makers as artisans. It's basic well known chemistry that has been around for a long time. If they insist or market themselves as that I am just not in that market share. Not banging any maker. Yes I have made my own shave soap. I have also worked on the commercial side of the industry. It's soap...harder to make by the metric ton from an engineering standpoint than 100 tubs with a crockpot. In the end it's just soap. Like it buy it.

3 742
Reply
 01-23-2017, 12:18 PM
#7
User Info
(01-23-2017, 11:50 AM)SteelTown Wrote: I totally ignore it or see it as a negative. I don't see soap makers as artisans. It's basic well known chemistry that has been around for a long time. If they insist or market themselves as that I am just not in that market share. Not banging any maker. Yes I have made my own shave soap. I have also worked on the commercial side of the industry. It's soap...harder to make by the metric ton from an engineering standpoint than 100 tubs with a crockpot. In the end it's just soap. Like it buy it.

I completely understand your ideology. I see other, peripheral reasonings for defining "artisan" vs. "non-artisan". Aside from the strict definition, et al.., a lot of guys take great pride in supporting independent ("artisan") sources, rather than contributing to corporations. An economical / philosophical choice, if you will. 

Scent customization and a broader range of scent choices are also more prevalent in the "artisan" category.

Just a few thoughts on the subject. This thread speaks volumes as to what are commonly defined non-artisan soaps - http://shavenook.com/showthread.php?tid=46536

0 122
Reply
 01-23-2017, 12:26 PM
#8
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
User Info
(01-23-2017, 11:47 AM)Nusquam Humanitus Wrote:
(01-23-2017, 10:44 AM)nikos.a Wrote:
(01-23-2017, 10:05 AM)TheLegalRazor Wrote: Interesting question Nick, and I'm looking forward to seeing how guys deal with defining the term.  I started by looking at dictionary definitions of artisan.  According to what I found, an artisan is a skilled worker who makes things by hand.  Output or number of workers are not a part of this definition.  However, making things by hand does place a practical limit on how much one can produce.

I like this definition.  It gives you a simple, clear answer to whether any soap maker is an artisan.  If it's not made by hand, it's not artisan.

Of course, whether it's artisan or not has no bearing on the quality of the soap.

Ricardo, thanks. By that definition, we must reconsider which are indeed artisans. I highly doubt that most of the so-called artisans make soaps by hand.

You simply can't make hundreds or thousands of soaps by hand.

Can soaps even be made strictly by hand? We could take this idea to another level, if we truly wanted to. Regardless of how any one manufacturer makes a soap, machinery or some other "device" is most likely used. This definition seems much to vague. I would guess there are very few things that can be completely made "by hand".

I would say that output and the number of workers are the defacto parameters that define an artisan with respect to soap artisans. These are the 2 parameters that I've seen countless times as the definition of an artisan with respect to soaps, razors, brushes, etc.

There is a difference between using pots and industrial soap press.

49 1,999
Reply
 01-23-2017, 01:06 PM
#9
User Info
(01-23-2017, 12:26 PM)nikos.a Wrote:
(01-23-2017, 11:47 AM)Nusquam Humanitus Wrote:
(01-23-2017, 10:44 AM)nikos.a Wrote: Ricardo, thanks. By that definition, we must reconsider which are indeed artisans. I highly doubt that most of the so-called artisans make soaps by hand.

You simply can't make hundreds or thousands of soaps by hand.

Can soaps even be made strictly by hand? We could take this idea to another level, if we truly wanted to. Regardless of how any one manufacturer makes a soap, machinery or some other "device" is most likely used. This definition seems much to vague. I would guess there are very few things that can be completely made "by hand".

I would say that output and the number of workers are the defacto parameters that define an artisan with respect to soap artisans. These are the 2 parameters that I've seen countless times as the definition of an artisan with respect to soaps, razors, brushes, etc.

There is a difference between using pots and industrial soap press.

I agree, 100%. So, does the manufacturer who uses a massive pot and not a industrial press an artisan? Is this a clear cut example of "hand made"? If this is the case, then many of the current, commonly defined "artisans" on the forums are indeed artisans, according to this comment. I doubt B&M, CRSW, MLS and Mikes are using industrial soap presses......

0 122
Reply
 01-23-2017, 01:31 PM
#10
User Info
People can -- and do -- ascribe their own views and connotations to this word.
I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the manual aspect of the process -- it's the "art" aspect that's the thing for me..

The etymology of the word is based on the Latin artitus, past participle of artire ‘instruct in the arts.’

For me there is also definitely a connotation of individual or small shop, like a cabinetmaker.

8 917
Reply
 01-23-2017, 01:32 PM
#11
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
User Info
(01-23-2017, 01:06 PM)Nusquam Humanitus Wrote:
(01-23-2017, 12:26 PM)nikos.a Wrote:
(01-23-2017, 11:47 AM)Nusquam Humanitus Wrote: Can soaps even be made strictly by hand? We could take this idea to another level, if we truly wanted to. Regardless of how any one manufacturer makes a soap, machinery or some other "device" is most likely used. This definition seems much to vague. I would guess there are very few things that can be completely made "by hand".

I would say that output and the number of workers are the defacto parameters that define an artisan with respect to soap artisans. These are the 2 parameters that I've seen countless times as the definition of an artisan with respect to soaps, razors, brushes, etc.

There is a difference between using pots and industrial soap press.

I agree, 100%. So, does the manufacturer who uses a massive pot and not a industrial press an artisan? Is this a clear cut example of "hand made"? If this is the case, then many of the current, commonly defined "artisans" on the forums are indeed artisans, according to this comment. I doubt B&M, CRSW, MLS and Mikes are using industrial soap presses......

I was just trying to say that there are different kind of devices that a soapmaker uses, as an answer to your comment that soaps can't be made only by hand.

By the way, SV uses soap press, like many others do.

49 1,999
Reply
 01-23-2017, 01:38 PM
#12
User Info
I personally would say most of the soaps are a "cottage industry". Most are buying their components from bigger suppliers and just following a recipe or one they tweaked and modded to get their own distinct soap. Nothing wrong with that, I just don't see it as artisan. 

There may be a few on the scent side of the business if they are are making scents from basic notes, esthers, acids, alcohols, oils and fixatives to make a unique scent like in traditional perfumery.

3 742
Reply
 01-23-2017, 01:49 PM
#13
User Info
To me there are very few, if any, real artisans left.

B&M, CRSW, Caties etc. all use some kind of machine tool to mix the soap base.

Sapo Varesino use huge industrial machines to make their soap.

MDC also use quite large machines to mix their soap base in.

To me Haslinger and Klar Seifen are more artisan made than Razorock for instance. Yet Klar and Haslinger also make their soap base in rather large machines.

Razorock is made at different plants. Not even by the same manufacturer.

24 5,972
Reply
 01-23-2017, 01:52 PM
#14
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
User Info
(01-23-2017, 01:38 PM)SteelTown Wrote: I personally would say most of the soaps are a "cottage industry". Most are buying their components from bigger suppliers and just following a recipe or one they tweaked and modded to get their own distinct soap. Nothing wrong with that, I just don't see it as artisan. 

There may be a few on the scent side of the business if they are are making scents from basic notes, esthers, acids, alcohols, oils and fixatives to make a unique scent like in traditional perfumery.

I don't think that most soapmakers we know are able to produce all the components of a soap on their own. They have to buy them from a supplier. If they do produce them, they're not artisans anyway, since they have to produce very large quantities of soap to make this happen. It's the only way to reduce their costs. This is common to bigger industries.


To my mind, you can't produce hundreds or thousands of soaps each month and call yourself artisan.

49 1,999
Reply
 01-23-2017, 01:54 PM
#15
  • nikos.a
  • Senior Member
  • Athens, Greece
User Info
(01-23-2017, 01:49 PM)CHSeifert Wrote: To me there are very few, if any, real artisans left.

B&M, CRSW, Caties etc. all use some kind of machine tool to mix the soap base.

Sapo Varesino use huge industrial machines to make their soap.

MDC also use quite large machines to mix their soap base in.

To me Haslinger and Klar Seifen are more artisan made than Razorock for instance. Yet Klar and Haslinger also make their soap base in rather large machines.

Razorock is made at different plants. Not even by the same manufacturer.

I agree, Claus.

Like you said, Razorock company is using contractors.

49 1,999
Reply
 01-23-2017, 02:51 PM
#16
User Info
The term encompasses more then just soaps.

32 6,460
Reply
 01-24-2017, 04:03 AM
#17
User Info
(01-23-2017, 02:51 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: The term encompasses more then just soaps.

Yes, which just complicates the matter even more. I still see the strict definition vs. the loose or commonly accepted definition as the heart of the matter. The loose definition seems to be clearly accepted: a small number of workers, small batches, etc.

There are tons of definitions that have morphed and became mainstream or common. A bastardization of the good ole days....

0 122
Reply
 01-24-2017, 05:17 AM
#18
User Info
I consider an artisan as someone connected to their product like a baker, carpenter, soap maker, or a chef.  A cabinet maker will use power tools to produce furniture, a baker will use a mixer or an oven but the bottom line they are there making their product.  I think the line starts to blur when the product moves from small to medium scale, in house production to a more industrialized production.  When the soap owner moves the production off site and contracts production to a third party and now becomes a commodity - it has lost that personal connection.  One disclaimer to this however is that I know some vendors have production overseas due to shipping restrictions of certain products but these are not in large scale factories.

I build furniture and consider that an artisan trade.  I use power tools but in the end it is my hands running over the surface of the wood before I apply a finish - a physical and some could say an emotional connection.  It would stop being artisan when I contract a factory to build a design or if I expanded to the point I am building only one part of the product and someone else is finishing it or upholstering the final product.

Just my two cents....

4 465
Reply
 01-24-2017, 06:55 AM
#19
User Info
(01-24-2017, 05:17 AM)Cincinnatus Wrote: I consider an artisan as someone connected to their product like a baker, carpenter, soap maker, or a chef.  A cabinet maker will use power tools to produce furniture, a baker will use a mixer or an oven but the bottom line they are there making their product.  I think the line starts to blur when the product moves from small to medium scale, in house production to a more industrialized production.  When the soap owner moves the production off site and contracts production to a third party and now becomes a commodity - it has lost that personal connection.  One disclaimer to this however is that I know some vendors have production overseas due to shipping restrictions of certain products but these are not in large scale factories.

I build furniture and consider that an artisan trade.  I use power tools but in the end it is my hands running over the surface of the wood before I apply a finish - a physical and some could say an emotional connection.  It would stop being artisan when I contract a factory to build a design or if I expanded to the point I am building only one part of the product and someone else is finishing it or upholstering the final product.

Just my two cents....

Very nicely put!

8 917
Reply
 01-24-2017, 07:10 AM
#20
User Info
(01-24-2017, 06:55 AM)Rory1262 Wrote:
(01-24-2017, 05:17 AM)Cincinnatus Wrote: I consider an artisan as someone connected to their product like a baker, carpenter, soap maker, or a chef.  A cabinet maker will use power tools to produce furniture, a baker will use a mixer or an oven but the bottom line they are there making their product.  I think the line starts to blur when the product moves from small to medium scale, in house production to a more industrialized production.  When the soap owner moves the production off site and contracts production to a third party and now becomes a commodity - it has lost that personal connection.  One disclaimer to this however is that I know some vendors have production overseas due to shipping restrictions of certain products but these are not in large scale factories.

I build furniture and consider that an artisan trade.  I use power tools but in the end it is my hands running over the surface of the wood before I apply a finish - a physical and some could say an emotional connection.  It would stop being artisan when I contract a factory to build a design or if I expanded to the point I am building only one part of the product and someone else is finishing it or upholstering the final product.

Just my two cents....

Very nicely put!

Seconded.

0 122
Reply
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)