Been a while since I’ve done one of these and figured it would be good to get all of the thoughts and changes in one place…
I have been making brushes now for a few months. This is something I have wanted to do since I first started in wetshaving about 15 years ago. This desire prompted me to buy a lathe, where I did succeed in making a few brushes for myself and as gifts for the guys in my wedding party in 2007. I moved on to other things in the “turning” world like pens, bowls, etc. and when I moved to attend graduate school, my lathe became idle for a long period, probably close to 10 years. As some things changed in my life, I started making soap again, which led to Viking being launched in Spring 2016, and my interest in making brushes returned around that time as well, but I was overwhelmed in re-familiarizing myself with how to turn, securing handle materials/knot supply, researching and gathering finishing supplies, etc., so I just took my time slowly acquiring what I needed to get started. Well, as you know, Viking took a nose dive (personal reasons) in late 2017 into most of 2018 when I considered closing the business down, but I made some necessary changes in my life to allow Viking to resurface early this year. It’s been a struggle to get back to where I was in early 2017, but things are progressing well and I’m happy with where Viking sits and the brush making journey.
I feel that my best brush work is currently taking place and I plan to start doing “drops” where I make a group of brush handles available at once rather than posting them one by one on the site as they are completed. I have secured a nice supply of ebonite, all sorts of synthetic and wood materials, and have also started casting my own blanks, so there will be some really cool stuff coming down the pipeline. I have also developed a nice relationship with a knot supplier that makes the best shaving knots in the world in my opinion. There are now several knot options available on the website for your consideration. I plan to offer more synthetic knot options moving forward also.
The brush buying process is broken into two categories – the handle and the knot. If you wish to purchase both, I will assume that you want me to set the knot for you. I will touch base with you after the order to see if you have any preferences on the loft and will then set the knot for you prior to shipping the completed brush. If you want to do it yourself, that’s fine and we will determine that with the post-order correspondence. I am also happy to sell handles and knots separately and welcome those orders.
Custom brush orders are also open, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a conversation started and your custom brush ordered – I’ve had some great interactions with customers and really cool brushes created as a result of the custom process so far!
Keep on the lookout for the first official brush ‘drop’ – it should be happening around 8/12. I will send an email out the the subscriber list and also announce the drop on Instagram and Facebook, so be sure to follow one of those for the information.
New soap containers & formula tweak
I have been on the hunt for a new container supply for a while now and finally succeeded in finding what I wanted at the price I wanted. I have used the blue jars in the past mostly for economical reasons, but they are also decent to lather in. However, I’ve always had my eye on something different, more in line with what other artisans use – the Parkway jars. Those are now in use for Hedeby and Ironside, and as old stock is sold and new made, all soaps will migrate into the new jars. They are wider and more robust, providing more a better ‘in-tub’ lathering experience. They do add a little bit extra cost, which is passed on in the new pricing, but I feel it’s worth it and you are still getting the best value in shaving soap on the market with our great performing soaps. That has been and always will be my goal – to provide a reasonably priced soap that performs with the best in the shaving soap market. I know there are a lot of options out there, but you simply will not find a better value than Viking Shaving Soap. I have extensively researched and tested ingredients and have ultimately found that the KISS model (keep it simple stupid) applies to shaving soap as well, in my opinion. You will find a fairly simple ingredient list compared to other offerings, but I stand by my formula that has received great reviews over the years.
There was one area, however, that I would get feedback regarding that I have changed to reflect that feedback. This is in the area of post-shave performance. Not that it was bad, but did have some room for improvement. I have made a change to my formula to reflect this, and have received great feedback on it so far. I think you’ll be pleased with the new formula – all soaps, old containers and new in the store are the new, 2019 formula for my soaps.
I’ve been asked if there are any new scents on deck for Viking. Yes, there are a few that I plan to release in the coming months. I plan to extend the ‘Scandinavian Country’ series by releasing Norway, Denmark, and Sweden soaps. Will share more details as they are available.
Lastly, I really want to thank everyone who has supported Viking during the high and low periods – it means a lot to me and I couldn’t have made it back without the support. I also want to remind everyone that this is a side venture for me, I have a full time day job in Research & Development in Agriculture, and a family that I love spending time with, so Viking-related business happens for a few hours at the end of most days, so if things seem slow, that’s why, but there’s always something brewing! Please feel free to reach out at any time for a chat, I love discussing anything in the wetshaving realm with customers!
Thanks and keep on shaving! See my Instagram feed below for some pictures of recent brushes, updates, etc.