Synthetic biology has ‘two souls’, one focused on engineering new features into existing life, the other aiming to create life de novo. The goal of creating life is arguably far more significant in terms of long-term scientific and philosophical impact. ‘Creating life’ considers the approach to creating life from the bottom up, starting with simple chemicals and taking only inspirations from existing living things. So far, self-reproducing catalytic cycles have been generated that produce molecules of modest complexity from simple precursors. Those working on containment have made self-reproducing membrane vesicles, albeit ones requiring somewhat complex starting molecules. What seems not yet to have been done is to join these concepts.