⟨ Treasure ⟩

For tranquility and peaceful time

Sphaera soap

Words / Jas Tse
Translation / Fanny Chan

世上最早被記錄下來已出現的肥皂,在西元前八世紀,當時只單純是清潔作用,成分也簡單。曾聽過一些說法,說過敏體質的人不適合使用肥皂,後來知道只因很多市售肥皂也去除了能保護皮膚不乾燥的天然甘油,也加入了對身體無實際作用的化學成份,為了清潔力提高和誘人香氣,好的東西卻被切掉了。但手工皂能保留這些好,會更貼近我們身體需要。

想想,每天真正平靜的時間不多,所以能令人安心的時刻,會想更多一點。Sphaera soap便是如此溫柔誕生。創立人Ali Johnson在她的第一個孩子出生後,便開始自己造肥皂,安心以外,也平衡了育兒的天旋地轉。

The earliest record of soap dates back to the eighth century BC. At that time, soap was made purely for cleansing and the list of ingredients was simple. There is a saying that people with sensitive skin should not use soap; but that is because a lot of soaps on the market have removed the natural glycerin that protects the skin from drying out, and in addition, chemicals that add no positive value to human skin are added. That is to say, good things are taken out for the sake of stronger cleansing power and more appealing aroma. Luckily, there are handmade soaps out there on the market that restore our faith in the benefits of quality soap.

If you think about it, we don’t really have many opportunities to relax in our everyday life and that’s why we yearn for tranquility and peaceful time. Sphaera, a soap brand from New Zealand, was born for that reason — its founder, Ali Johnson, wanted to find some quiet moments for herself after her first child was born. Soap-making offered her a much needed peace during an otherwise hectic parenting life.

Ali本來是一位視覺藝術家與雕塑家,於是皂的形態與包裝,就成了她的另一種創作,像躺在浴室裡的雕塑,簡單耐看的立方,能握在手心,隨沖擦慢慢變成鵝卵石的形狀。

為了在持續生產的過程中減少對環境的影響,原料與包裝也盡量取自紐西蘭當地,並採取冷壓法留住最多養份,為不同的皮膚類型和目的,製作出性質溫和的肥皂。Ali說:「調製肥皂配方,是一門有關平衡的科學。製作肥皂的過程,是很直覺而又深思熟慮的。」如同傾聽身體需要也是一種感性與理性同在,身體訴說訊息時,我們如何適切地反應。

當中有一種成分,是被喚作「Pharmacy of the forest 森林藥房」的Kawakawa,屬當地本土植物,也是毛利人的傳統藥用植物。對於修復肌膚尤其有效,外服內用都好,有強大的抗炎作用,大概是個看家法寶的存在,那從很久以前傳下來的生活智慧。Ali也根據毛利人傳統醫學方式進行採摘,再用作入皂,而樹就在工作室外面生長。

從調製、倒模、裁切、風乾、人手磨出棱角,都在家中工作室完成,對Ali來說,整個過程就像預備禮物一樣。對,是送給身體的禮物。

Ali was originally a visual artist and sculptor. To her, the shaping and packaging of soaps is just another form of creation. Her soaps are like sculptures in the bathroom. Simple geometric forms that can be held in the palm, and as they are used and enjoyed, they will gradually turn into the shape of pebbles.

Sphaera is dedicated to crafting gentle and mild soaps for various skin types and purposes. Their soaps are made using the ‘cold process’ method to preserve the soap components’ gentle cleansing and moisturising properties. To minimize the impacts of its production on the environment, raw materials and packaging are sourced locally from New Zealand where possible. “Crafting a soap formula is a science of balance. The soap-making process is both intuitive and thoughtful.” Communication with our body is also a science of balance — the balance between sensibility and rationality that leads us to respond to our body appropriately.

One of the ingredients used in Sphaera soap is Kawakawa, “Pharmacy of the forest.” It is a native plant that is used by the Maori for medicinal purposes. Good for both external and internal uses, Kawakawa is especially effective for skin repair with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is not merely a gem in the household medicine box of the Maori, but also a wisdom of life that is passed down from the ancestors. The Kawakawa used to make Sphaera soaps are grown locally outside their studio and harvested according to the Maori’s customary protocol.

From blending, moulding, hand-cutting, air-curing, to shaping, the entire soap-making process takes place in the home studio of Ali’s. For her, making a soap is like preparing a gift —  a gift for our bodies.