Behind the Scenes: Production of the Autumn Equinox Edition - Part I

A key part of the Regional Archive ethos is a focus on slow production. The process by which an item is made holds the same level of importance as the final product. As part of each edition, the makers journey will be shared with the Regional Archive community. This would not be possible without the collaboration of the makers and so a great thank you to darsbars for allowing access to your process. 

Starting the journey with the Celestial Equator soap and the Belmont Candle, we are transported to an east-end Toronto studio where Daria (Owner) makes all the products by hand. Equal parts laboratory and warehouse, the space is filled with Daria's laughter and/or the meeting of creative minds. One special guest is a welcome treat on this visit. Paulie, the studio dog. 

Below is a step by step overview of the process and some photos showcasing the different stages of the development of the Celestial Equator Soap and the Belmont Candle. 

Celestial Equator Soap

The process of making soap is methodical and precise with a set succession of steps. Since it includes work with chemicals, it is also one that must be conducted safely and with great attention. 

In recognition of the protection needed to make soap, getting safety gear on is always the first step - long sleeves, goggles, mask and gloves. Once prepared for production the colorant is mixed. 


After the colourant is mixed the lye and water is measured. Precision is key at this step. The lye crystals are poured into a bowl of water. Important to note that it should NEVER GO THE OTHER WAY AROUND. From here all of the organic materials (Shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, castor oil) are weighed and melted, ending with them all being mixed together in a bowl. The next step is to measure all of the essential oils (evergreen, patchouli, ylang ylang).


Once the lye water has reached 120 degrees or lower it is slowly added to the large bowl of melted oils. The mixture is then mixed with a stick blender and once it achieves "trace" (pudding like consistency) the essential oils and colourant are added. 


Once blended together the mixture is now ready to be set in to it's mold. This  sets for 48 hours and is then removed and cut in the 4" x 1" bars. The bars are then set to cure for 3-4 weeks. The final form is ready to be transferred to your shower and enjoyed. 

The Belmont Candle

Similarly to the Celestial Equator Soap, the Belmont Candle features organic soy wax and so the first matter of production always starts with sourcing the wax. From here a glass vessel is prepared for each candle, by deep cleaning and setting the wick in the centre of the glass. 


The essential oil blend for the candle is then mixed. For the Belmont Candle this is coriander, clove, tobacco, leather and oak. Once mixed attention is turned to melting the wax in a large pot on low heat. Once the wax is 135 degrees the scent can be added to the mixture. This mixture is then poured in to each glass vessel and left to set for 2 hours.



With the main part of the candle complete, the wick is then cut to the desired length and it is time to move on to the packaging. All of darsbars stock products come in a beautiful box with a wax seal. Once the wax seal is on the box the candle and the poem that accompanies it are placed in the box. While an evidently easier process, candle production is given the same amount of attention and love as each soap bar. 



One of the greatest joys of working with smaller producers is the very personal nature of production. Our hope at Regional Archive is to continue to provide a personal connection to the items in each edition, through these behind the scenes series.

Next up will be the Celestial Cycle Print. 


All photos taken by the talented Tara Newell