James River Soap Wash Station
soap, driftwood, steel, porcelain, cotton rag, water. Soap ingredients: James River water and mud, Hog Haven Farm and Sno-Cap lard, Reedy Creek Apiary beeswax, acorn oil, honeysuckle, dandelions, redbud flowers, violets, crabapple blossoms, paw paw flowers, grass, buttercup, vetch flowers, river birch pollen, eastern cottonwood pollen.
In addition to being cultural identifiers and beautiful features of the landscape, rivers are the great carriers of our waste. Urban rivers create interesting intersections between human life and wild life. They create specific ecological habitats for riparian plants and animals, and simultaneously provide people with commerce, energy, industry, food, and water. All at once, our rivers are dirty and clean, dangerous and beloved, natural and unnatural, wild and controlled. Making soap from a river is a way to confirm these complex relationships.
The guide was compiled to encourage others to directly engage with their environments through the process of making soap. By combining an educated awareness of watershed issues with traditional skills, the goal is to promote a deeper human connection between material, place, body, and the natural world. Learn how to forage and dry plants, source local fats and oil, render animal fat, press oil from acorns, make hot process soap, and improve the health of the watershed.