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Pam Gautreau

Mixed Media / Grand Coteau, LA

Artist Statement

You might be asking yourself how a producer of bath & body indulgences is part of the Louisiana Crafts Guild. Well, what does art do for you? Does it capture your heart? Soothe your soul? Rejuvenate your imagination? That's what Water Oak Farms, Inc does! Our artisan crafted products are formulated to cleanse, soothe & rejuvenate the body & the soul with pure botanical based ingredients that nature's bounty provides.
For centuries, soap had been made with ash(known as lye or sodium hydroxide) and animal fats, usually done outdoors in iron pots over an open fire. The result was a strong, often irritating soap that could go rancid due to the animal fats utilized. The countries that had access to olive oil perfected this process as they were aware of the benefits to their health and their skin by replacing the animal fats with this precious oil. While we respect the old, largely rural, way of making soap, we have chosen to craft artisan products utilizing extra virgin olive oil as the primary base for CAOS, our Conditioning All Natural Olive oil Soaps.
Our soap making process still takes hours of stirring, but, is done indoors due to health regulations & in stainless steel pots.
The CAOS Bath & Body Bars of Water Oak Farms, Inc., are all hand crafted using the cold-process method of soap making. This particular process of soap making is employed so that as little heat as possible is applied to our base oils as extreme heat application can destroy the very healing attributes that our choice of plant oils are known for. Our proprietary base formula for all CAOS Body Bars begins with luxurious extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, and Louisiana artesian spring water. We then incorporate the soul-stirring aromatherapy of pure essential plant oils, herbs and botanicals, along with other skin conditioning ingredients such as avocado oil, shea butter, all depending on the particular batch produced. We pride ourselves on blending our own essential oils for aromatherapeutic blends that are exclusive to Water Oak Farms, Inc. We do not mass produce our products, choosing to make our soaps in small batches to ensure the finest in all-natural olive oil soap.
All aspects of our soap making process are done completely by hand, from the hand blending of our oils to the constant stirring required of our method. Our bars are cut by a soap cutter designed and made by my husband, Brent. All CAOS bars are cured for 4-6 weeks at which time we stamp & hand-wrap our bars with labels that showcase the Water Oak Farms tree logo, which highlights the center panel of a beautifully crafted quilt that was presented to us by fellow artist, guild member & dear friend, Mandie Lucas of www.bayousouls.com CAOS is a trademarked acronym for Conditioning All-natural Oilve oil Soap & the initials of our 4 daughters' names. We are a family owned/run business. I firmly believe that by hand-crafting my products, I am able to offer higher quality. All of my formulas are the result of my years of research and development. Whether you choose our CAOS body bars or our other all natural bath & body luxuries, you are purchasing artisan products that will cleanse, soothe & rejuvenate your body & your soul, naturally free of dyes, chemicals, preservatives & synthetic fragrances.

Biography

I grew up in a rural area of Acadia Parish on a working rice and cattle farm, a self-sufficient farm in which we raised all of our own meat, poultry, dairy products, vegetables, etc. Having been brought up in such an atmosphere gave me a great appreciation for the path I would choose later in my adult life. From that life on the farm to the establishment of my company, Water Oak Farms, Inc. in 1998, I had a “professional” life and started a family, marrying my husband Brent & loving the chaos of rearing our 4 daughters, whose initials make up our trademarked brand name, CAOS-pronounced "chaos"!
I was employed for years in the oil industry as a sales representative. I traveled extensively for that position and part of my job was taking clients to lunch, experiencing many different ethnic foods outside of the Cajun food I was brought up on. The different meals I enjoyed were flavored with many interesting herbs which brought me to planting various culinary herbs and experimenting with them in my own cooking. The more I studied, the more I started learning about the medicinal aspects of some of the same herbs I was cooking with. That led me to take an herbal apprenticeship course focusing on the healing aspects of plants. Being a farmer's daughter kind of brought me back to my roots, so to speak. It soothed my soul to take what grew in my extensive herb garden & making wound healing poultices, cough syrups, cold & flue fighters with nature's medicine.
The lack of available herbs in my area, by now we had settled in South St. Landry Parish, led me to opening a seasonal retail herb nursery in 1998, thus Water Oak Farms, Inc., came into being. We operated this from our home property & later opened a retail boutique in historic Grand Coteau. My personal interest remained with the healing herbs, mainly wounds & skin conditions & that led me to incorporating these herbs into a line of skin soothing olive oil soaps, a soap formula that took a couple of years to research and develop.
The success of my own proprietary formulas and the process I use took precedence over the nursery part of the business.
In September 2007 I made the decision to close the boutique so I could focus more on wholesale accounts & formulating other bath & body luxuries. You can find us & our products at quality art markets/festivals and boutiques where the clientele is expecting a higher quality artisan product.