Get to Know
Hello, my name is Bonnie Klisiewicz Bartley. I am a soapsmith, like blacksmith, silversmith, coppersmith. I make soap.
I live in Altoona in Central Pennsylvania. The area is abundant in natural beauty. My home is located on 5 wooded acres, atop a hill in the heart of the breathtakingly glorious Allegheny Mountains-thus, the inspiration for the name Allegheny Hearth Soaps. I was born in Altoona and have lived here my entire life. It was a wonderful place, to raise my three sons, who are now adults. I plan to remain in this warm and welcoming place for the rest of my life, I can't imagine living anywhere else.
When we moved into our home in 1975, the property was completely outlined with mature pine trees. The first autumn, our yard was covered with pinecones. I picked 21 bushels and decided to make pine cone wreaths as Christmas gifts. Several people who were gifted with the wreaths asked to purchase them for their family and friends. Through the years, the requests kept coming. The store where I am employed was generous enough to allow me to place my floral arrangements and artwork for sale. 25 years later, I still work there. My soap cart offers my wares to our customers.
Soap making is one of my passions. I find great satisfaction in formulating products that pamper the skin and care for my customers. Working with the many aspects of the craft, I am able to be a mad scientist as well as an artisan. I am inspired by nature: my garden, the spectrum of colors, the textures, the herbs and flowers, the trees, the fragrances - all of creation. I also draw inspiration from my customers. They are the greatest. Many of them are so kind to take the time to write me notes and emails thanking me for the results they get from using my products. They sing my praises to their friends and neighbors, which grows my business. I am grateful to them and dedicate my efforts to them. I am always mindful of the many generations of craftsmen who have passed along their skills.
I strive to work for the advancement of the craft by honing my methods and techniques. I willingly mentor the next generation of artisans. I do demonstrations and presentations at symposiums and gatherings and I actively participate in soap making forums.In all aspects of my life, I am known for my organization and attention to detail. That attribute greatly contributes to my success in my family life, career, business and volunteer work. I manage my time carefully in order to meet the demands of a busy life.
I am a self taught artisan. I take advantage of every opportunity to learn all aspects of soap making. I read books, attend classes and conferences, I belong to organizations dedicated to the advancement of the craft and I converse with other soap makers to exchange ideas. I purchase my supplies from many vendors, searching the markets for the finest ingredients available. The internet has been wonderful. I made my first soap in 1979. The only oils and butters were limited to what was available in local supermarkets. Now I can revel in delights like shea, mango and cocoa butters, coconut, palm and avocado oils. Essential and fragrance oil selections are astounding. My studio shelves are filled with enticing amber bottles that I can blend to my heart's content. Colorants safe for cosmetic use are also readily available. I dance for joy when the delivery truck brings a new box filled with new delights, begging to be concocted into something unique and original that is sure to thrill my customers.
I have a well established local customer base. It is at the request of my customers, who are always asking if I have a website that I have decided to branch out to on line selling. I want Artfire to serve as an electronic catalog for my clientele, and to offer my awesome products to the rest of the world!