Crafting has been a part of Tammy’s life as long as she can remember. In her family crafting has been passed from one generation to the next. Her great grandmother taught her grandmother, her grandmother taught her mother. Tammy was lucky enough to learn from her grandmother, her mother and her aunt. As a young girl, she was introduced to crocheting, knitting, sewing, ceramics, and a host of other tasks. She spent her first twelve years on a small farm in Hartville, Ohio with her mother and grandmother. Tammy’s aunt and uncle lived next door.
A love of gardening and the outdoors was also a great part of her life. By the age of eight she was collecting eggs from the chickens and selling them to the neighbors for fifty cents a dozen. There were horses on the farm and she had a Shetland pony. Thus began the love of critters. In the summer when she was young, Tammy would take all her stuffed animals outside and play zoo. When helping in the gardens, she would collect worms to keep at ‘pets’. Tammy learned gardening from her mother and knew how to do flower and vegetable beds, as this was a part of daily life.
Life changed when she moved from the farm to a cozy home on a small lake. Most activities were in and on the water during her teen years. Right before her senior year, she met her future husband. It truly was love at first sight. They are still married thirty four years later.
When Tammy turned eighteen, she married Charles “Skip” Pope. Less than a year after they married, he joined the military, and life became a great adventure. For the next phase of life, there were many moves. Skip and Tammy were blessed with two children. Their son Aaron is twenty seven; he is an electrician and lives in a log cabin next to their farm. Christina is twenty five, and married to Andrew White. They presently live in Columbia, Missouri: as she is a senior in veterinary school at University of Missouri.
While raising children and moving around the country Tammy never stopped doing various crafts. She used the skills she learned as a youngster to make their house into a home. When the children were young, she was at home with them. Tammy was into crocheting, sewing, macrame, and especially ceramics. It was also a time when there was financial assistance needed in the home. What a joy to marry the love of crafting with a way to bring financial gain into the home. Soon she was doing the local craft shows with her ceramics. This kept up for a few years.
It wasn’t long before the children were very involved in school activities and sports. So life took another turn. Days and nights were spent meeting the needs of the children. Doing various crafts and learning new skills was on the back burner for a bit. Tammy took some classes and read books to increase her knowledge in crafting. She knew that some day she would return to this passion.
Before she knew it, the children were grown and starting out on their own life adventures. Now a new chapter in life begins. Through several events Skip and Tammy are able to buy a small farm. They live in the Cato community which is on the Pulaski-Faulkner County border. As they pondered the future, they made a plan to put Tammy’s love of crafting to work.
This is the point when she had to make a decision on which craft she would settle on. Tammy has a true love for gardening, animals, and homemade soap. Well, an herb garden was planted, a green house bought, and the many critters purchased and housed. Presently they have two horses, about sixty chickens, five dogs, two cats, ten French Alpine dairy goats, three angora goats, and a very sweet llama to guard them. The chickens are producing eggs for sale; the dairy goats are producing milk, which is being used to make cheese, yogurt, ice cream and soap. The angoras and the llamas are producing fleece. We are attempting to find a market for these things.
The love of homemade soap is the next item to be addressed. Tammy had been purchasing it from various crafters. She really wanted to try her hand at it, but had a healthy respect of the process involved. So, she spent about a year doing research and studying to see if this was something she could do, and would love doing. There were searches for high quality oils, spices and other needed ingredients. Many of the herbs used in the soap are grown on the farm. Well, the creative side took over. Soon she was testing recipes and working with various oils, fresh goat’s milk, herbs, and spices. At last a basic recipe was created. From this recipe, with a few variations, she has been able to come up with more than thirty scents. There is a joy in each batch that is created. All of the soap is made in small batches in the farm kitchen. Each bar is hand cut and trimmed. After the drying process, each bar is wrapped in fabric, much like a gift ribbon, and then a tag is tied on.
Next she began looking for a nice crotchet cotton wash cloth to use with the soap. Well…none were found, so Tammy found some high quality cotton yarn and a pattern which facilitated great cleansing. The washcloths are also easy to rinse and launder well. Tammy and her customers are very pleased with the results.
Since starting Homemade Soap by Tammy Sue’s Critters, Tammy has been pleasantly surprised with all outcomes thus far. She has found some niche retail outlets. Her soap is in a local health foods store, a specialty nursery, a florist shop, an exercise facility. She is a participant in several online markets, farmer’s markets as well as numerous craft shows.