Winners Announcement for July Challenge Club

Our challenge for July was presented by our guest teacher, Joanne Watkins of Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps. As an artist who is adept in acrylic paint techniques, Joanne showed us one of the fluid acrylic pour methods using a straw. The results can be quite stunning as you will see from the winning entries, but we also discovered that this technique can be a bit dangerous if precautions are not taken. Even with warnings about safety, several of our members ended up with lye burns. For this reason, I will not be offering the tutorial for sale, and hereby notify you that any attempts to re-create this technique are done at your own risk.

The challenge was divided into the juried and voted categories once again this month. Bramble Berry sponsored the juried category and participated in choosing our top three winners as well as their Sponsor’s Choice winner. Other members of the jury included Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking and myself. Those who entered the juried category were scored according to their adherence to the technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, presentation, and overall aesthetics. For this challenge, all entries had to include a photo of the wet soap in the mold as part of their social media or blog post. Everyone who entered this category will receive personal feedback from me about their soaps. As usual, it was a difficult challenge to score!! After all five jury members scored their top 15 choices, we had to discuss the final outcome, but everyone came to agreement on these top three winners:

Grand prize goes to Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana for her Muskmelon Mania soap! This is Teri’s second time in a row to win the grand prize in the juried category, and it is well deserved. The jury members were impressed with Teri’s tenacity to get her soap to look how she wanted it, and her ability to control the force of her breath to create the design without getting the colors muddied as they had been in previous attempts. She was also able to create a beautiful even texture in her soap without added air bubbles (very difficult with this technique), and her photography and presentation of her soap are also outstanding:

Muskmelon Mania by Tree Marie Soapworks

Congratulations to Teri for winning a $100 gift certificate from Bramble Berry!! Be sure click on the photo to see all of Teri’s attempts on her Facebook page.

In second place we have Janelle Peck in Idaho, and I couldn’t be happier for her! She has been participating in the challenges for over three years and this is her first time placing in the top 3! For this challenge, Janelle created an amazing Charcoal Nebula soap with impressive lines and colors, keeping her soap batter fluid throughout the pours, and presented her soap in a very unique and beautiful way:

Charcoal Nebula soap by Janelle Peck

Janelle’s prize is a $75 gift certificate from Bramble Berry – yippee!! Click on the photo of her soap to see her process on her Pinterest Board, and then check out the rest of her challenge club soaps HERE. You can see her progress as a soapmaker, but she’s always shown a lot of talent!

Third place goes to Linda Irawan of Moia Soap in Indonesia who has placed in three out of four challenges that she has entered! Her Blue River soap is a gorgeous display of moving waters, and stood out as a very unique design to the jury members. She used four different shades of blue micas along with some activated charcoal to create the monochromatic ripple effect:

Blue River by Moia Soap

Linda wins a $50 gift certificate from Bramble Berry! You can click on the photo to see more images of this soap, including the wet soap in the mold on her Instagram.

Finally, Kelsey B from Bramble Berry has chosen Nicole Lankenau of Nicole’s Artisan Soaps in New York to receive their Sponsor’s Choice prize! Nicole’s Blowing Autumn Tree soap won the hearts of everyone in the Bramble Berry office! Kelsey says, “This soap immediately stood out to me. First I saw the bright colors, then I noticed the intricate tree design. It’s amazing how Nicole’s Artisan Soaps was able to create the trunk, leaves, and sky in the background using a straw. Excellent job, the whole Bramble Berry office loves it.”

Blowing Autumn Tree by Nicole’s Artisan Soaps

Nicole wins a $25 gift certificate from Bramble Berry! Click on the photo to see her process photos on her Facebook page, as well as videos HERE and HERE.

For the voted category, the winners were chosen by the votes of all our members this month, and sponsored by Symphony Scents. Congratulations goes to Shayla Gauthier of Black Gold Soap Co. in Alberta, Canada for winning Grand Prize with her Rainbow Fyre soap! Shayla has participated in several challenges, and this is her second time to place in the top three. For this month’s challenge, she did an excellent job of re-creating a rainbow tie dye effect in her soap:

Rainbow Fyre soap by Black Gold Soap Co.

Shayla’s prize is a $100 gift certificate from Symphony Scents! Be sure to click on the photo to read her blog post about her inspiration and how she created the soap.

Second place goes to Sarah Corey of Sweet N Charming Soaps in New Mexico – and she placed in the top 3 last month also! While she struggled to keep her soap batter fluid until the very end, Sarah’s soap is still a gorgeous display of vivid blues and greens which she has aptly named Luminous Mirage:

Luminous Mirage soap by Sweet n Charming Soaps

Sarah wins a $75 gift certificate from Symphony Scents, and you can check out her blog post with process photos of her soap by clicking on the photo.

In third place we have Jamie Reddinger of Lathering Lotus in Pennsylvania! Jamie is a long-time member of the challenge club, and this is her first time placing in the top 3 – I’m so proud of her!! Ironically, she also won the three-month registration door prize that I contributed to the Pittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering last month! She did an excellent job of creating her fabulous Autumn Dreams soap:

Autumn Dreams soap by Lathering Lotus

Jamie’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Symphony Scents, and you can see the wet soap in the mold posted on her Instagram if you click on the photo above.

Finally, Lori Kimble of Symphony Scents has chosen Kelley Conway’s Fruity Fusion soap as her Sponsor’s Choice winner! Kelley’s company is The Corner Handmade in Massachusetts. Lori says, “This soap has a great color combo and the tutorial showed a nice fluid soap to create the patterns. The cut of the bars shows all the layers and patterns throughout. Plus, she stepped out of her comfort zone to do this technique!” Congratulations, Kelley!!

Fruity Fusion by The Corner Handmade

Kelley wins a $25 gift certificate from Symphony Scents!! Click on the photo to read more about Kelley’s soap on her Facebook page.

Don’t miss the rest of the entries, and the announcement of the top 10 in the juried category located here:

Juried Category

Voted Category

Next month we get to have some fun with the Intaglio technique that Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap has developed. Registration opens on Monday! You can sign up for August only, or throw in September as well for a discounted rate. Here are my practice soaps:

Intaglio practice soaps by Amy Warden

My soap for the video tutorial is made – just needs to be carved!! I will update the info on the Current Challenge page as soon as I get them finished up. Sponsor information and tools needed for this technique are already posted there.

Sign up to be notified as soon as registration opens, if you haven’t already:

Sir Soapy’s Interview with Me

Sir Soapy is a website dedicated to helping new soapmakers create handmade soaps with all natural ingredients. Sir Soapy himself recently requested an interview with me. You can see the full interview HERE. He asked some really great questions! Check it out!

He has also interviewed Anne-Marie Faiola from Bramble Berry and Amanda Gail from Lovin Soap, if you’d like to read those also.

Announcing the Winners of the Ombre Challenge

For the month of June, the Soap Challenge Club worked on perfecting ombre techniques in cold process soap. Ombre is the gradual blending of one color hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark or dark to light – or even color to color. Members were given the option to choose any technique they wished to demonstrate an ombre color patter in the majority of their soap.

The challenge was divided between juried and voted categories. Members who wished to learn a new technique and have some fun, and/or may be new to soapmaking were encouraged to enter the voted category. All of our members were eligible to vote for the winners in this category, except for the Sponsor’s Choice winner. Mad Micas sponsored the voted category with some awesome gift certificate prizes. If you haven’t visited their website recently, it’s worth checking out as they have added a ton of new colors and products! They also have a fun Facebook community.

Members who wished to be pushed to their maximum potential, possibly with aspirations to improve or begin online selling were encouraged to participate in the juried category. A panel of five jury members decided the winners for this category, including Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking, Leann Blackey representing our sponsor Elements Bath & Body and myself. Each jury member chose their top 15 picks and scored each entry on a scale of 1-10 on each of the following criteria: technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, presentation, and overall aesthetics. Seven categories with a maximum score of 10 from each of the five jury members would give a perfect 350 points. The scores from each jury member were added together to see who the top three winners would be. In addition to the winners chosen by the jury member, Elements Bath & Body chose a Sponsor’s Choice winner as well. They are a fantastic wholesale soap supplier with absolutely everything you might need – awesome prices, no minimum order and they ship worldwide!

I’m going to switch things up a bit and post the winners of the voted category first this time. Congratulations goes to Claudia Carpenter of Soap City blog in California with her amazing Murder at Sunset soap!! Claudia is a long time member and supporter of the Challenge Club with a total of five first place finishes now and quite a few other top three finishes. She has not only created a beautiful masterpiece, but she also educated us on the names of groups of birds. Did you know that a group of crows is actually called a “murder of crows”? Thus the name of her soap:

Murder at Sunset soap by Soap City

Of course even more amazing is how Claudia used a 3D printer to create the mold for the birds. Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to read all about it in her blog post. Claudia wins a $100 gift certificate from Mad Micas (and bragging rights, of course) – woo hoo!!

Second place goes to Bonnie Howard of The Village Soapsmith in North Carolina for her beautiful Teal Ombre soap. Bonnie has also participated in the challenges many times over the years, placing first in the U.S. category of the Embracing Opposites challenge and winning the Sponsor’s Choice award in the U.S. category of the Rimmed Soap challenge. Her ombre soap color change is so gradual, it is nearly impossible to pick out the layers!

Teal Ombre soap by The Village Soapsmith

Bonnie wins a $75 gift certificate from Mad Micas – congratulations!! Click on the photo to read about her process and see the other two ombre soaps she made.

In third place we have Sarah Corey of Sweet n Charming Soaps in New Mexico. Sarah has participated in the challenges several times in the last year, and this is her first time to place in the top 3! She is very experienced with the ombre technique (as you can see on her blog post), and has created a stellar ombre soap for the challenge:

Siren’s Song soap by Sweet n Charming Soaps

Sarah’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Mad Micas!

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize has been awarded to Maja Zuvela-Aloise of Bubbledream in Austria for her Dusty Sunrise soap! This is Maja’s second Challenge Club award since she started participating in February. Joanna Schmidt, owner of Mad Micas says, “The deep orange to yellow is stunning! This is an extremely gradual color change ombre. We can’t even tell where one color ends and one begins! Well done!!!”

Dusty Sunrise soap by Bubbledream

Maja wins a $25 gift certificate from Mad Micas!

Now, for the juried category! There was much discussion about first and second place among the jury members. Ultimately, grand prize goes to Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana. She received 327 out of 350 points from the jury members for her Scallop Ombre soap! Teri has been participating in the challenges for nearly a year now and this is her fourth time placing. Her soaps are always meticulous with flawless batters and beautiful designs. Her entry this month is no different:

Scallop Ombre soap by Tree Marie Soapworks

Congratulations to Teri for winning a $100 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body! Click on the photo of her soap to read about it, as well as one other she attempted for the challenge on her Facebook page.

Equally amazing is the second place winner, Jayme Waldo of Jayme Jayne Inc. in Idaho who received 319 out of 350 points for her Glacier Ice soap. The smooth ombre transition combined with the unique shape and presentation of her soap is truly fantastic – especially for her very first ombre soap!

Glacier Ice soap by Jayme Jayne Inc.

Jayme wins a $75 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body. Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to read more about her soap on her blog.

Third place is yet another outstanding work! Irina Muzhyla of I.M. Soap in Belarus put in an incredible amount of effort into creating the perfect ombre soap. Her Morning in the Desert soap received 280 out of 350 points. The gradual color change from the sand to the sky to the bright corner of light is truly stunning:

Morning in the Desert by I.M. Soap

Irina’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body. She has documented 11 batches of ombre soaps on her blog post, so be sure to check it out by clicking on the photo of her soap!

The Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Yvonne Foust of The Snoblove Bar in Tennessee for her Mermaids Lagoon soap! Leann Blackey, Creative Director for Elements Bath & Body says, “The color palette is absolutely gorgeous! The ombré was very well done, and that wave effect you were going for turned out well. Congratulations, Yvonne, on all your hard work and also for inspiring others with your beautiful soap! We are looking forward to seeing your new soap collection.”

Mermaids Lagoon by The Snoblove Bar

Yvonne has been participating in the challenges for several years with several award winning entries! She almost didn’t enter her soap this month, but now she’s quite happy that she did! Her prize is a $25 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body. Congrats! You can read more about her soap by clicking on the photo that is linked to her Instagram post.

The rest of the entries for this month’s challenge, including the top 10 from the juried category can be found HERE, and the rest of the entries from the voted category are posted HERE.

And now, the long awaited announcement for what is coming up next!! We will continue the juried and voted categories for the next two months. July’s challenge will be the Acrylic Fluid Pour Technique with guest teacher Joanne Watkins of Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps. Joanne has participated in the Challenge Clubs a few times, but I was most impressed by what she shared in several Facebook groups about what she was creating with techniques that are inspired by acrylic paint artists. I’m so happy she agreed to show us how it’s done! Here are a few photos of her work:

Acrylic fluid pour technique in the mold by Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps

Cut soaps

You might recognize her Ombre soap from this month’s challenge:

Ombre Fluid Pour technique by Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps

Cut soaps

This is the soap she made for the video tutorial:

Acrylic Fluid Pour technique by Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps

The juried category will be sponsored by Bramble Berry and the voted category will be sponsored by Symphony Scents, both with the same amazing gift certificate prizes!

For August, we will do Vibrant Soap‘s Intaglia technique.

Intaglia soap example by Vibrant Soap

The juried category will be sponsored by Majestic Mountain Sage, and the voted category will be sponsored by Nurture Soap.

September’s technique is 3D shower jelly soaps with guest teacher Helene Glemet of ChezHelene. You might remember Helene’s entry in the CP + MP designs challenge made with this technique:

3D Shower Jelly soap by ChezHelene

We will have one big challenge in September with Rustic Escentuals as our sponsor.

Registration opens Monday for these three months of challenges! See more information on the Current Challenge page. Hope you’ll join us!

If you haven’t signed up for notifications, here’s the link:

The Alabama Soap Challenge

I was so honored to be invited to be a speaker at the 19th Annual Alabama Soap Meeting on June 9-10 in Prattville, Alabama. The Alabama Soap & Candle Association (ASCA) asked me to demonstrate a design technique and have a challenge for their members. As members signed up to attend the Meeting, they were given the opportunity to sign up to participate in the challenge, and 18 people decided to take the challenge! I sent them all the video tutorial and written instructions for the Spin Swirl technique on May 1st so they would have a little more than five weeks to prepare their soaps. Bramble Berry provided everything I needed for my demo, so all the large items then became prizes! Grand Prize was the 18-bar slab mold with dividers (plus free registration to next year’s meeting from the ASCA), second place received the KD-7000 scale, and third place was the new Bramble Berry stick blender.

The entries were submitted anonymously so that no one knew who made them except me:

Spin Swirl soaps

Each person who registered for the meeting (which was around 100 people) was given a ballot to place ONE vote for their favorite entry. The great part about doing a challenge in person is being able to smell the soaps as well as see the designs. Here are the winning soaps:

!st: Julie Batchelor, 2nd: Elizabeth Meredith, 3rd: Cheryl Thompson

I also gave honorable mention and a free 3-month registration to the Soap Challenge Club for July, August and September to three other entries for their outstanding spin swirl designs. Congratulations to Jeanette Cotton, Steve Hulsey, and Jen Merk:

Excellent Spin Swirl soaps

One of my favorite parts about doing soap challenges is hearing participants tell me that they did something they hadn’t done before because of the challenge. There are three participants from the Alabama challenge who had first time experiences, including Lenea Martel who makes hot process soaps exclusively. She made her first cold process soap for this challenge:

Lenea and her spin swirl soap

This is Gloria Orr. She used colors in her soap for the first time!

Gloria and her spin swirl soap

And this is Angel Dobs. She’s been making soap for over 35 years, and this was the first time she had ever made soap in a slab mold!

Angel and her spin swirl soap

Yes, soap challenges are fun! Yes, they might push you out of your comfort zone or help you try something new. And yes, I absolutely love helping soapmakers learn new things and have fun making new techniques! Thank you, ASCA, for giving me the opportunity to teach some new tricks!

Announcing the Winners of the Soap Dough Challenge!

What is soap dough, you ask? It’s a specially formulated cold process soap recipe that starts out moldable, but then hardens like regular soap. It gives endless possibilities for those who enjoy sculpting projects as it can behave similarly to polymer clay. Our guest teacher for this technique was Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso. She shared her special recipe with us and showed us how easy it is to mold soap into an amazing dragon eye! Members were given the task of starting with a “bar” of cold process soap, and embellishing or embedding it with soap dough. The soap did not need to be practical to use, however, and members could choose to use small non-soap embellishments also. The results are absolutely astounding!! The challenge was divided into two categories again this month: juried and voted.

Members who wished to learn a new technique and have some fun, and/or may be new to soapmaking were encouraged to enter the voted category. All of our members were eligible to vote for the winners in this category, except for the Sponsor’s Choice winner. Lovin Soap is our incredible sponsor in this category. They have a multitude of resources for soapmakers, from recipes and tutorials to business information.

Members who wished to be pushed to their maximum potential, possibly with aspirations to improve or begin online selling were encouraged to participate in the juried category. A panel of four jury members decided the winners for this category, including our guest teacher Tatiana Serko, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking, and myself. Each jury member chose their top 15 picks and scored each entry on a scale of 1-10 on each of the following criteria: technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, presentation, and overall aesthetics. Seven categories with a maximum score of 10 from each of the four jury members would give a perfect 280 points. The scores from each jury member were added together to see who the top three winners would be. Our wonderful sponsor for this category is Nature’s Garden, and they chose a Sponsor’s Choice winner as well. In addition to many other wonderful supplies for soapmakers, Nature’s Garden is one of the premiere suppliers of fragrances, with more than 800 unique, concentrated scents!

Let’s start with the winners from the juried category. The jury members agree this was the most difficult time we’ve ever had trying to decide the winners. The creativity and presentation of these soaps is top notch!

The grand prize goes to Linda Irawan of Moia Soap in Indonesia with 243 points! Linda was the first place winner in the voted category last month, and now she has proven her skills in the juried category as well. Her peacock soap is completely breathtaking in its beauty. Can you believe this is her first time working with soap dough? The tail feathers were created with the “caning” technique used by polymer clay artists:

The Peacock by Moia Soap

Linda’s prize is a $100 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Congratulations on a job well done! Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to see more photos of her soap on Instagram, including some in process.

Our second place winner is Lyubov Evteeva in Russia with 242 points (very close to first!). This is her second time participating in the challenges, and her first time to place in the top 3. The scale of her soap dough creation is what is most stunning about her work. She had to use a magnifying glass to accomplish it! Her soap, “In heaven from happiness”, is a replica of artwork by Mary Zherdeva:

In heaven from happiness by Lyubov Evteeva

Congratulations to Lyubov for winning a $75 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Click on the photo of her soap to read her blog post about how she made the soap and to see the inspiration behind it.

Third place goes to Nadezhda Uskova of Master Soap in Russia with 234 points. This is her first time participating in the Soap Challenge Club, but not her first time creating with soap dough. However, the subject of her masterpiece was something completely different from anything she has attempted before. An elf baby!! Her work was also inspired by another artist, sculptor Diana Guelinckx De Becker. Again, the details and scale of her creation is most impressive:

Elf baby soap by Master Soap

Nadezhda wins a $50 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden for her fantastic work! She has written a blog post about her process which you can read by clicking on the photo of her soap.

Finally, Deborah Ward of Nature’s Garden has chosen Erin Reynolds of Raven and Rain Soap Co. in Oregon to receive the Sponsor’s Choice prize for her Bathtime Fun with Rubber Ducky soap! This is Erin’s first time participating in a challenge. Deborah says, “Looks just like a real bath tub, and the little ducky adds an extra touch of cuteness!”

Bathtime Fun with Rubber Ducky by Raven and Rain Soap Co.

Erin’s prize is a $25 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden – woo hoo! Be sure to click on her photo to read more about her soap on her Facebook page.

The rest of the juried entries can be found HERE, with all of the top 10 entries posted in order.

For the voted category, there are some equally amazing entries also! Grand prize goes to Julie Franson of Cold Pocket Farm in Idaho! Julie has been a member of the Challenge Club for quite some time but this is her first time winning a prize for her work – and her first time playing with soap dough. Her subject of choice is a beautiful horned owl head with glass eyes:

Owl of Soap “Clay” by Cold Pocket Farm

Congratulations to Julie for winning a $100 gift certificate from Lovin Soap! If you click on the photo of her soap, you can see more photos of her process on her blog post.

In second place we have Irina Bukhanova in New York, another first time participant with an elegant peacock soap. Her soap proudly displays a colorful bird with multi-layered tail feathers and detailed flowers on the breast:

Peacock soap by Irina

Irina wins a $75 gift certificate from Lovin Soap – woo hoo!

Our third place winner is Ronda Scorpio (Soap by Kick it Up a Notch) in Canada! Ronda is new to the Challenge Club, but certainly not new to soap sculpting! She has created her own play dough soap recipe and hosts a Facebook group dedicated to the craft. Her prize-winning entry features the endearing characters Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. She calls it “Hunny Log”:

Hunny Log soap by Kick it Up a Notch

Ronda’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Lovin Soap. Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to see the YouTube video she put together.

The Sponsor’s Choice winner for the voted category is Yvonne Pedersen of Såpe Conditoriet in Norway! Yvonne is a long-time member of the Challenge Club and this is her second time to win a Sponsor’s Choice prize. (She’s been in the top 3 twice as well.) Amanda Gail chose her Soap Cottage because as she says, “This soap is adorable! I love the color scheme with the varied pinks on the yellow base. The flowers, though simple, are quite stunning when all assembled on the soap. The detail and texture on the door, window and roof really complete the piece. And of course the little bird up top is adorable! Great job!”

Soap Cottage by Såpe Conditoriet

Yvonne wins a $25 gift certificate from Lovin Soap. Her write-up about her Soap Cottage is great – click on the photo to read her blog post!

You’ll find the rest of the entries for the voted category HERE.

I hope you’re excited for the June challenge! We are doing Ombre Techniques. Here is the soap I created for the video tutorial:

Ombre soap by Amy Warden

Registration will open Monday, June 5th for this challenge. We will have juried and voted categories once again. Click on the photo for more information about our sponsors and prizes!

If you would like to receive a notification as soon as registration opens, sign up here:

Rustic Soap & Packaging Challenge Winners

For the month of April, we did a theme challenge that was completely different than any other challenge we’ve ever done. For the first time ever, hot process and rebatching were allowed (and even encouraged!) to create rustic looking soaps, and the challenge also included packaging. Rustic was defined as “having a simplicity and charm that is considered typical of the countryside.” Good textures, earthy colors, and a few rough edges can make a great rustic soap! Members were also asked to create packaging in keeping with the rustic theme that would enhance the overall look of the soap, but not cover it completely.

The challenge was divided into two new categories this month: voted and juried. Members who wished to learn a new technique and have some fun, and/or may be new to soapmaking were encouraged to enter the voted category. All of our members were eligible to vote for the winners in this category, except for the Sponsor’s Choice winner which was chosen by our fabulous sponsor, Rustic Escentuals.

Members who wished to be pushed to their maximum potential, possibly with aspirations to improve or begin online selling were encouraged to participate in the juried category. A panel of five jury members decided the winners for this category, including Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking, Lori Kimble of Symphony Scents (our wonderful new sponsor for this category) and myself. Each jury member chose their top 10 picks and scored each entry on a scale of 1-10 on each of the following criteria: technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, packaging, presentation, and overall aesthetics. Eight categories with a maximum score of 10 from each of the five jury members would give a perfect 400 points. The scores from each jury member were added together to see who the top three winners would be, and the results are:

Grand prize goes to Helene Glemet of ChezHélène in Quebec, Canada! She received 347 out of 400 total points from the jury members for her amazing Taiga (Russian for “boreal forest”) soap. Helene used several unique ingredients from the boreal forest, including balsam poplar and black spruce resins, chaga mushrooms from birch trees, and bear tallow. She created two layers of cold process soap, then added a layer of hot processed soap on top. Helene made the deer silouhette stamp herself and used chaga mushroom powder to create the contrasting color. The packaging is also inspired by the forest with birch bark, pine needles and a button made from a deer antler completing the look:

Taiga soap by ChezHélène

Helene wins a $100 gift certificate from Symphony Scents – congratulations!! You can learn more about the wonderful properties of the ingredients she used and how she made her soap by clicking on the photo of her soap to see her video.

Second place goes to Claudia Carpenter of Soap City in California, with 315 out of 400 total points for her beautiful Sandalwood Stone soap. After admitting that she was having trouble coming up with a soap that looked “rustic enough,” Claudia used soap dough to hand-form her granite looking soap, colored with clays and tea powders. Her packaging consists of a simple ribbon made of cotton ticking and a kraft paper label she designed herself:

Sandalwood Stone soap by Soap City

Claudia’s prize is a $75 gift certificate from Symphony Scents – well done! Click the photo of her soap to read more about her “rustic” soap adventure on her blog.

In third place we have Michelle Rogerson of Handmade Heartland in Iowa, earning 295 out of 400 points with her stunning Arcadian Lavender soap. Michelle created her soap with the hot process method using the microwave as demonstrated in the video tutorial. She layered the soap with pencil lines, adding lots of tiny purple soap shreds to the middle layer. The final touches of purple paper, burlap ribbon and botanicals really make this soap stand out:

Arcadian Lavender soap by Handmade Heartland

Michelle wins a $50 gift certificate from Symphony Scents! Be sure to click on the photo to read all about Michelle’s process on her Facebook page.

(If you are looking for the Sponsor’s Choice winner for this category, you won’t find one since our sponsor helped choose all of our top three winners.)

Now it’s time to announce the winners from the voted category! Taking grand prize we have Linda Irawan of Moia Soap in Indonesia with her fabulous Solitary Jade soap. Linda made her soap using an accelerating jasmine fragrance and cold process, oven process (CPOP) to give it more texture and defined lines. She used gold mica and cocoa powder to create the waterline for the stone, and her rustic packaging includes wood fibre, hemp string and an ancient chinese coin:

Solitary Jade soap by Moia Soap

Linda wins a $100 gift certificate plus six 1-oz fragrances and six mica samples from Rustic Escentuals! Click on the photo to read more about her soap on her Instagram post.

Second place goes to Renee Spaulding of Lakehurst Farms in Vermont. Her prize winning soap is called Black Tie, a goat milk soap made with the hot process method. Renee created a simple black, grey and cream color scheme using activated charcoal and kaolin clay. Her simple packaging comes from a gift bag rope and a label she created herself:

Black Tie soap by Lakehurst Farms

Renee’s prize is a $75 gift certificate plus six 1-oz fragrances and six mica samples from Rustic Escentuals! If you click on the photo, you can read more about her process on her Facebook page.

In third place (just two votes behind second!) we have Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana who won the secret swirl challenge last month in the all-natural category! Teri made several batches for the challenge, but it was her very first hot process soap that she felt was “rustic enough” to enter. It is made with pine tar and calendula, embellished with an old-fashioned French soap stamp, and decorated with burlap, arborvitae foliage, and a small pine cone:

Pine Tar & Calendula soap by Tree Marie Soapworks

Teri wins a $50 gift certificate plus six 1-oz fragrances and six mica samples from Rustic Escentuals! Be sure to click on the photo to see all the different batches she made in her Facebook album.

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to …. Melissa Fisher in Maryland! Melissa’s Out of this World soap caught the eye of our sponsor for several reasons. Amy Coker from Rustic Escentuals explains, “I like the creativity and originality not only with the soap but also how she coordinated the packaging to match the soap. Mindful creativity combined with a very nice looking bar of soap.”

Out of This World soap by Melissa Fisher

It’s always exciting when a new member gets a prize! Melissa wins six 1-oz fragrances and six mica samples from Rustic Escentuals – way to go!! You can read more about how she made her soap (and her reluctance to participate in the challenge!) on her blog post by clicking on the photo of her soap.

You can see all of the entries from the juried category HERE, and the voted category HERE.

Registration will open this Monday, May 1st for the May Challenge. We will be doing Soap Dough Techniques with Tatiana Serko as our guest teacher. She will be sharing the recipe she developed over four years with us! Here is the soap she made for the video tutorial:

Dragon’s Eye soap by Creative Soap by Steso

I purchased the amazing soap dough tools from Sorcery Soap so I could play along as well. Tatiana sent me a sample of her soap dough, and I can tell you it is amazing!!

Here’s the deal though. Tatiana recommends that you make the soap dough two weeks before you plan to make anything with it. Those who are participating in this challenge are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED to make the soap dough ASAP. I have extended the deadlines to make sure you have enough time to create some wonderful masterpieces with your soap dough.

The May challenge will also be divided into juried and voted categories. The sponsor for the juried category is Nature’s Garden, and Deborah Ward will be joining our panel of jury members. The sponsor for the voted category is Lovin’ Soap. Check out the current challenge page for more information!

There will also be an option to sign up for June (ombre techniques) at a discounted rate during open registration which starts Monday, May 1st. If you haven’t signed up for Challenge Club notifications, you can do so now:

Secret Swirl Winners Revealed!

The Challenge Club for March was faced with the task of creating secret swirls – either a regular feather swirl, or a reverse feather swirl could be featured. Claudia Pazdernik in Austria is credited with creating the original secret feather swirl. This advanced technique creates some very beautiful designs! There are several different variations that can be created just by changing up the colors of the feather as well as the thickness of the pour, as you’ll see in the winning entries. Each one took a different approach to this challenge. We also divided the challenge into two separate categories: soaps made with all-natural ingredients, and those made with synthetic colors and/or fragrance. Bramble Berry is our sponsor for the all-natural category, and Nurture Soap is our sponsor for the synthetic category. Both sponsors put together some fabulous prize packages for our winners that will help them continue to make secret swirl designs, or other fun techniques (international winners receive gift certificates for equivalent amounts). We are so appreciative of their generosity!!

Shall we start with the all-natural category then? The grand prize winner is none other than Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana! Teri placed third in the Dancing Funnel challenge last August as well. Her beautiful soap features a black and white botanical leaf pattern that demonstrates her skill not only in creating such a smooth textured soap, but crisp, clean lines:

Peppermint and Tea Tree Secret Swirl by Tree Marie Soapworks

Congratulations, Teri! She has won a 5 lb wooden mold with silicone liner and multi-pour sectioning tool from Bramble Berry. Click on the photo to see how she made her soap – and rigged up a template for her hanger tool. Amazing!

In second place in the all-natural category, we have Joanna Humieniuk of Iriy Soapworks in Illinois! Joanna has also received Sponsor’s Choice prizes – two of them – but this is her first time placing in the top three as well. Joanna has achieved some beautiful colors in her soap with the use of several different natural colorants. The features of her soap really come together into one cohesive design:

No End of Fun soap by Iriy Soapworks

Excellent work, Joanna! Her prize is a 10″ silicone mold with multi-pour sectioning tool, Brazilian clay sampler, and natural colorants sampler from Bramble Berry. Be sure to click on the photo to read more about her ingredients – including tomato puree from the tomatoes in her own garden!

Third place in the all-natural category goes to Helene Glemet of ChezHelene in Quebec, Canada! Helene has been a member of the Club for nearly a year, placing four times in the top three and winning the Sponsor’s Choice prize just last month in the experienced category. Her designs are always creative, and this month’s entry is no different! She used the secret feather swirl to establish the leaves of her hyacinth, then applied piping techniques from the challenge last September to create the flower:

Spring Hyacinth soap by ChezHelene

As an international winner, Helene wins a $50 gift certificate from Bramble Berry – woo hoo! If you click on the photo of her soap, you’ll see the video she made while creating it.

Finally, Kelsey and the team at Bramble Berry has chosen Belinda Williams of Love Your Suds in BC, Canada to receive their Sponsor’s Choice prize for her super cool Pine Forest soap! Belinda used the reverse feather swirl to create three separate pine trees in her soap. Kelsey says, “We were blown away by the detail in the Pine Forest bars! The fact that there are three secret swirls with alternating colors is amazing, and the brown soil on the bottom really ties everything together. Great job, Love Your Suds!”

Pine Forest soap by Love Your Suds

Belinda wins a $25 gift certificate from Bramble Berry, which happens to be located just over the Canadian border from her! Click on the photo of her soap to read her blog post documenting her process which includes two practice batches that helped her come up with her final entry. Fascinating!

Now, for the synthetic category! The grand prize winner is Athena Edens of Alaska’s Soap Cakes in Alaska, of course! Athena is brand new to the Challenge Club and has swept right up to first place. Her Alaskan Fireweed soap is a beautiful rendition of this flower from her home state, with delicate pink buds and a simple stem:

Alaskan Fireweed soap by Alaska’s Soap Cakes

Huge congrats for this amazing accomplishment, Athena! Her prize is a 5 lb premium mold and liner with hanger swirl tool and mystery mica set from Nurture Soap. Feel free to click on the photo to see the post on her Facebook page.

Just six votes behind first place, our second place winner is Shayla Gauthier of Black Gold Soap Co. in Alberta, Canada with her mysterious Midnight Peacock feather swirl soap! Shayla was our other Sponsor’s Choice winner last month in the newbie category. She used her favorite bright, bold color scheme to create this magnificent soap:

Midnight Peacock soap by Black Gold Soap Co.

Yay for Shayla – she has won an $85 gift certificate from Nurture Soap (the equivalent amount of their prize package)! Click on her soap photo to read about her process on her blog.

And just one vote behind second place, we have a tie for third!! Congratulations goes to Liz Gehlsen in Ontario, Canada and Marty Johnson in Minnesota! This is the first time either of these ladies has placed in the challenges, and I couldn’t be happier for them! Liz made the best of her soap, adding eyes to the feather swirl to create a very realistic looking owl!

What a Hoot soap by Liz Gehlsen

Marty’s soap is also whimsical in name, but an excellent example of the secret feather swirl. She used a bright color palette and came up with a beautiful feather swirl soap that she has named Big Bird:

Big Bird soap by Marty Johnson

As an international winner, Liz wins a $60 gift certificate from Nurture Soap, and Marty wins a 2.5 lb basic mold with hanger swirl tool, also from Nurture Soap! Be sure to click on their photos to see more about their soaps.

And for the Sponsor’s Choice prize winner in the synthetic category, Carrie Thornsbury of Nurture Soap has chosen Sara Golding of Sunflower State Soap in Kansas! (Ironically, Sara also came in fourth place, just two votes behind Liz and Marty!) Carrie says, “The lines of the feather swirl are very crisp and clean and well done. I also really like the color choices. It takes a lot of talent to make a feather swirl that looks like a flower. It reminds me of tulips in spring.”

Ready for Spring soap by Sunflower State Soap

Congratulations to Sara for this honor! She has placed in the top three once, and this is her first Sponsor’s Choice award. Sara’s prize is a mystery mica set from Nurture Soap! Check out her Facebook post for more information about her soap by clicking on the photo.

Check out all the other creative entries in the all-natural category HERE, and the synthetic category HERE.

Now, it’s time for the announcement for the next three months of challenges! I have exciting news!! The April, May and June challenges will be divided into two brand new categories. This will be a trial period to see how well this new format is received. The two categories are: JURIED and VOTED. Winners in the voted category will be chosen by the votes of the members of the Club that month as they have always been chosen. Winners in the juried category will be chosen by a panel of five jury members, one of whom will be the sponsor of that category, so that person will change each month. The other four jury members (at least for the next three months) will be Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking, and myself.

Jury Members for April, May & June

For the month of April, we will be doing rustic soaps and packaging! This is the first time we have done hot process or rebatching, as well as the first time we have included packaging as part of the challenge. As I have been making soaps with this technique and creating packaging ideas, it has been exceptionally fun to play! Here is one of the soaps I created for the video tutorial:

Rustic Rose soap by Amy Warden

The sponsor for the voted category is Rustic Escentuals (perfect fit, right?), and the sponsor for the juried category is a brand-new sponsor: Symphony Scents. Lori Kimble will represent Symphony Scents as the sponsor jury member for April.

In May, we will use Soap Dough Techniques to create our soaps, inspired by B. Iyata of Sorcery Soap! I have not yet played with this technique, but one of our Challenge Club members has used it several times with amazing results:

Fruit Loops soap by Debi and Hayleigh Olsen

The sponsor for the voted category is Lovin Soap, and the sponsor for the juried category is Nature’s Garden. Deborah Ward will represent Nature’s Garden as the jury member for May.

The technique for June is Ombre Soaps. Here is a practice batch I made (needs more work!):

Stormy Seas soap by Amy Warden

The sponsor for the voted category is Mad Micas, and the sponsor for the juried category is Elements Bath & Body. Tammy Tivis will act as jury member for the sponsor spot in June. More information available on the Current Challenge page.

Oh, and did I mention there’s a new intro for the video tutorials starting in April? It’s silly and fun, and I hope you like it!!

End scene of the new video intro

Registration for these challenges will open Monday, April 3rd. You may register for April only for just $6.95 or for all three months at the discounted rate of $18.00. If you haven’t signed up for Challenge Club notifications yet, here’s where you’ll want to go:

How to Use Indigo to Color Cold Process Soap

If you’ve ever tried to use indigo to color your cold process soap and ended up with a nasty gray – or worse yet, no color at all – this post is for you! I’ve been there too, which is what drove me to figure out the best ways to get a beautiful color – from a light grayish blue to beautiful teal to dark navy blue. But what about color transfer and colored lather? Can you use too much? Definitely!

It should be noted that there are different types and intensities of indigo available from different suppliers and they are used in different ways. I will show you the benefits and disadvantages of each.

Let’s start with the different types. There are two different types of indigo: powdered and pre-reduced crystals. You can purchase the powdered form from several reputable soap supply vendors. (Thanks to the samples provided by Amanda Gail of Lovin Soap, I tested powders from Bramble Berry and From Nature With Love.) The only supplier of the crystals that I could find is Dharma Trading.

There are also different intensities of indigo powder. In addition to the powders from Bramble Berry and From Nature With Love, I tested a powder from Botanical Colors. They are not a soap supplier, but market their products to those who dye fabrics. It is an organic indigo powder that is much more saturated than the ones I tested from the soap suppliers.

I experimented with four different ways of incorporating indigo in cold process soap. 1. adding it to the hot lye solution, 2. creating strong oil infusions and adding after the soap was mixed, 3. dissolving the crystals in hot water, allowing it to cool and adding it after the soap was mixed, and 4. incorporating an oil infusion in addition to soap that already had indigo added to the lye solution. The powdered indigo can be added either to the lye solution OR in an oil infusion, but the pre-reduced crystals must be dissolved in hot water.

It’s important to use a soap recipe with light colored oils so that it doesn’t yellow and turn what could have been a lovely blue soap into an icky green or brown. I also made sure every batch went through gel stage to brighten/darken the colors. In a couple cases, the soap only reached a partial gel. This is the recipe I chose for all of my testing:

33% tallow
33% avocado
30% coconut
4% castor
5% superfat
30% lye concentration

Experiment #1: Testing saturation levels with the organic indigo from Botanical Colors using oil infusions.

Lightest layer: 1/16 tsp indigo in 1 tsp oil in just under 1 c soap; middle layer: 1/8 tsp indigo in 1 tsp oil in just under 1 c soap; darkest layer: 1/4 tsp indigo in 1 tsp oil in just under 1 c soap

The colors are grayish blue, just as they should be! I was worried that the darkest layer might bleed, so I did some testing on a cream-colored wash cloth:

Just the slightest bit of color transfer onto the wash cloth

I love that you can treat this indigo just like mica by pre-mixing it with a bit of oil and adding it to portions of soap. It makes it easy to do design work. However, the indigo takes a bit longer to incorporate than mica, so it requires you to plan ahead at least a few hours before you want to make the soap.

Experiment #2: Testing organic indigo and pre-reduced indigo crystals in the lye solution.

I used 1/2 tsp of indigo in both lye solutions for the same size batch (16 oz of oils). The powdered organic indigo is pictured on the left, and the pre-reduced crystals are on the right in the following photos:

Both types of indigo resisted being incorporated into the hot lye solution – the powdered even more than the crystals. The crystals turned green and also produced a rank odor when added to the lye.

By this time, the lye solution is starting to cool, but the indigo is still resisting in both solutions. I even considered that I might have to toss the one with the powdered organic indigo at this point.

This is how both solutions looked right before I added them to the oils. The organic powder finally incorporated – mostly. The crystals formed a skin on top and the solution remained a rather bright green.

This is the particulate that remained in the bottom of the measuring cup after I poured out the lye solutions.

The results of this test are rather stunning! The organic indigo remained a very dark blue – even darker than the darkest layer of the oil infused soap, while using almost half the amount.

Organic indigo from Botanical Colors in final soaps

This begs the question whether the lather of this super dark blue soap would stain the cream-colored washcloth:

This dark color definitely colored the washcloth, but fortunately it washed out! I probably still wouldn’t sell a soap colored this dark.

The soap colored with the crystals also came out beautifully – a very lovely dark greenish blue, with a lighter teal green around the outside. I think this may have happened because I put this soap in the oven to force gel stage and the heat pushed the green plant material to the outside. Just a theory though.

Soap colored with pre-reduced indigo crystals

And the color bleed test:

This one transferred just slightly more color than the darkest layer of the BC infusion soap, but not as much as the BC lye solution soap. The indigo washed out of the cloth, but I would still consider using a bit less.

The advantage to using this method is the ability to use much less colorant to get a strong color. The disadvantage is that you can’t do any design work. Your soap will be all one color – all one very lovely color though! I would also advise mixing the lye solution in a stainless steel container instead of plastic, as the indigo has now permanently stained the plastic measuring cups.

Experiment #3: Testing indigo powders from Bramble Berry and From Nature With Love using oil infusions.

I could tell just by looking at the color of the powders from these two different suppliers that the results from this experiment would be different.

Indigo powders

For this batch, I made 4 cups of soap (24 oz. of oils). Each oil infusion was made with 1 teaspoon of avocado oil mixed with the following amounts of indigo powder:

The intensity of the color is quite different between these two different suppliers! You can also observe the color difference between the gelled and ungelled portions of the soap.

Experiment #4: Testing pre-reduced indigo crystals dissolved in water added at trace.

For this experiment, I boiled 1/8 cup of water in the microwave, then added 1/8 tsp. of pre-reduced indigo crystals and stirred to dissolve. This method still puts off an odor, by the way! This time I made a batch of soap with 16 oz. of oils and poured off 1/2 cup of soap to add 1/4 tsp. of white kaolin clay dispersed in water for some drop swirls (just to add a design element). I took photos of the remaining soap batter after adding increments of 2.5 ml of the indigo solution:

The soap wasn’t poured off after each addition, I simply took a photo each time I mixed in more of the solution.

Once I had 10 ml of indigo solution added, I was happy with the color and poured the soap into the mold, adding the white drop swirls. Instead of putting the soap in the oven, I put it on a heating pad and covered it with towels. This produced a partial gel phase, and you can see the difference in color between the soap that didn’t gel and the soap that did:

No gel on the left, gel on the right

Isn’t it the most beautiful Tiffany blue? I just love how it turned out! I also observed that there is some shadowing around the white drop swirls – possibly due to the migration of the water that dispersed the clay or indigo, I’m not sure which. The other observation is the white outline around the outside of this soap, similar to the outline around the soap made with the crystals in the lye solution. Now I’m starting to think it’s because both of these soaps were made in a mold lined with silicone instead of freezer paper.

I thought I was finished now, but after seeing the results of Experiment #4, I knew I had to try one more batch using the indigo powder from Bramble Berry in the lye solution to see if I could get a nice blue color.

Experiment #5: Testing indigo powder from Bramble Berry in the lye solution.

Instead of adding the powder straight into the hot lye solution, I heated up the distilled water and mixed the powder into the hot water first. I had to cool it down in a cold water bath in my sink before adding the lye. It took an extra step to cool the water down twice, but the powder seemed to incorporate better this way. As soon as the lye was mixed in, the indigo turned a bit green, but you can see that after pouring the solution into the oils, there wasn’t as much residue left:

Lye solution is a dark olive green

Again, this batch size was 16 oz. of oils and I wanted to try one more thing to boost the blue color – layering more colorant into a portion of the soap by adding an oil infusion. I poured off 1 cup of soap and added an oil infusion of 1/2 tsp of indigo mixed with some avocado oil. Here you can see the difference in the color of the raw soap batter:

Oil infused batter is much darker!

And the final soap:

Beautiful gray-green from the lye solution infusion, and dark gray-navy from the added oil infusion.

I can see how layering different amounts of oil infusion on top of a soap that is already colored with indigo in the lye solution could produce some beautiful designs!

In case you are wondering if that dark soap will bleed:

Just noticeable amount of color bleed

Here’s one final comparison photo of the soaps made with 1/2 tsp of powder or crystals in the lye solution of a soap batch size with 16 ounces of oils:

This shows not only the difference in the intensity, but also the shades of greenish-blue to true dark navy.

This has been quite learning experience! I’ve discovered that not all indigo colorants are the same, and that you can achieve different colors and shades using different methods of incorporating the indigo into the soap. I have much more confidence in my ability to color soap naturally with indigo, and I hope you will too!

Secret Feather Swirl soap by Amy Warden

Cold Process + Melt & Pour Soap Design Winners

The February soap challenge was to combine cold process with melt & pour soap to create a cohesive design. These two mediums are completely different in a lot of ways, and yet each has definite advantages and benefits to create artistic soaps. Members were given ideas of what they could create, but had license to come up with a completely unique design! Normally, the Soap Challenge Club techniques are limited to cold process, so quite a few members found themselves working with melt & pour base for the first time – which ended up being a really good thing! It was a great experience to debunk these common myths about melt & pour soap base: 1. The ingredients are chemically derived and not good for your skin, and 2. It’s such a simple process to melt and pour the soap base so it’s only for beginners. Neither one of these is true!

We divided the challenge into two categories: newbies and experienced. Newbies were defined as those who have been making soap for less than two years and have made fewer than 50 batches. Everyone else was considered experienced. Huge thanks goes to our sponsors this month! Majestic Mountain Sage is your one-stop supplier for soap and cosmetic making materials out of Utah. They sponsored the newbie category. Elements Bath & Body has been selling soap supplies out of Colorado since 2002. I’m so grateful they stepped in as a new sponsor for the experienced category since they carry a wide variety of melt & pour soap bases – including an all-natural one! Both of these sponsors ship internationally as well, so be sure to check out their websites!

Time to announce the winners! I’ll start with the grand prize winner in the newbie category…congratulations goes to Margot Blubaugh of Marvelous Soap in Minnesota for her outstanding Amethyst and Amber soap! Her inspiration was a chunk of amethyst, which happens to be her birthstone! Margot comb

Amethyst and Amber soap by Marvelous Soap

Margot wins a $100 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage! Be sure to click on the photo to read more about how she created her soap on her Facebook page.

In second place we have Cheryl Wetzler of Saponaceous Soap in Pennsylvania. Cheryl took second place in the newbie category of the Tiger Stripe challenge just two months ago! This time her soap features diagonal layers of cold process and melt & pour soap, and the light shining through from behind truly looks like a sunrise as she has aptly named it:

Sonoma Sunrise soap by Saponaceous Soap

Cheryl’s prize is a $75 gift certificate! Her photo is linked to her post on Instagram if you’d like to find out more about it.

Third place goes to Jessica DeLeon of Moose Country Designs in Maine! Congratulations, Jessica, for creating such a beautiful prize-winning soap in your first challenge! She built this fabulous gumball machine entirely out of cold process and melt & pour soap:

Sweet Soapy Gumball Machine by Moose Country Designs

Jessica wins a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage! Woo hoo! Click on the photo to read about her process on her Facebook page.

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Shayla Gauthier of Black Gold Soap Co. in Alberta, Canada for her soap creation featuring Ursa Major! It’s a beautiful galaxy soap, featuring the Ursa Major constellation (aka the “Big Dipper”) on each bar:

Ursa Major soap by Black Gold Soap Co.

Tina Howard of Majestic Mountain Sage says, “Wow! That took some planning and was awesome!” and Shayla wins a $25 gift certificate from them! The photo is linked to Shayla’s blog post which demonstrates how she created this stunning soap – and you can see a photo of the light shining through one of the bars, showing off the constellation.

And now…the experienced category! You will be stunned to see all these fabulous entries as well! Grand prize goes to a brand-new member, Maja Zuvela-Aloise of Bubbledream in Austria! Maja’s combined cold process soap shavings and embeds into a melt and pour soap base created this beautiful Tree Landscape soap:

Tree Landscape soap by Bubbledream

Congratulations to Maja for winning a $100 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body! Feel free to click on the photo to read more about how she made this soap on her Facebook page.

Second place in the experienced category goes to Bannatyne Matson of Homely Animal Soap Shop in Utah! This is her fourth time receiving a prize in one of the top two places, and her Think Spring soap is definitely worthy of the prize! Bann created a beautiful stained glass masterpiece using cold process for the “lead” and transparent melt & pour for the glass:

Think Spring soap by Homely Animal

Bann wins a $75 gift certificate from Elements! The photo is linked to her Instagram post where she explains how her soap was made.

Congratulations to Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso in California for her third place finish because of her “Love, love, love…” CP + MP Design soap! She is a very talented soapmaker, placing six times in the challenges, and participating as our guest teacher four times! This ultra-complex soap was made by combining a rimmed soap technique with melt & pour base for the rim, and a nearly translucent cold process center with a cute double-heart MP embed on the surface. Check out the stunning result:

Love, love, love… CP + MP Design Soap by Creative Soap by Steso

Tatiana’s prize is a $50 gift certificate – woo hoo! Click on the photo to see how she made her soap, as well as one other with a different color palette.

The Sponsor’s Choice prize for the experienced category goes to a well-deserved recipient as well. Tammy Tivis of Elements Bath and Body recognized how unique and special this soap is when she said, “This stunning soap pushes the boundaries and gives us a totally new technique based on gelatin art. It looks like it was very painstakingly created; this soaper is indeed an artisan. I’m certain many soapers will want to learn this technique.” I’m sure she’s right! The soap she is referring to is this 3D Shower Jelly soap created by Helene Glemet of ChezHelene in Quebec, Canada:

3D Shower Jelly soap by ChezHelene

Congratulations to Helene for creating such a stunning soap! Her prize is a $25 gift certificate from Elements! Get more information on how she created the soap by clicking on the photo.

The results of the rest of the challenge entries can be found HERE for the newbie category, and HERE for the experienced category. Be sure to check out all the beautiful entries!

The challenge for March is called Secret Swirls! It will be divided between soaps made with all natural ingredients and those that are colored and/or scented with synthetic ingredients. Only one entry per member. Brambleberry is our sponsor for the natural category and Nurture Soap will sponsor the synthetic category. (Prize packages will be announced soon!) This is an advanced technique, but anyone is welcome to join us! I will do my best to give as many helpful tips as possible to give you success! Here is a soap I created with the Secret Feather Swirl in 2014:

Flamingo Feathers soap by Amy Warden

Registration for this challenge is just $6.95 and will open Monday, March 6. Here’s the link to receive a notification:

NEW! Aromatic Cedar Soap Dishes for the Shower

I have personally tested our brand new Cedar Soap Dishes in the shower, and they definitely extend the life of handmade soaps! Here’s how it works:

Cedar Soap Dish has grooves that run two different directions to allow water to flow out and air to flow in and around the soap!

If you’ve ever had your Great Cakes Soapworks soap bar stuck to the side of the tub, or still wet on the bottom by the time you take your next shower, you probably need this soap dish! Our shower has solid shelves for soap and shampoo that drain in the corner, but we still had issues with soggy soap. On average, a well-made bar of handmade soap will last one person about one month in the shower. The bar of soap I’m about to show you was used by two people for the first two weeks, and one person for the last two weeks. It started out as an average 4.5 ounce bar. Here’s how much is still left:

After one month of use!

I love that these soap dishes are handmade in Texas – go USA! And the best part is you can get them for just $4.95 each, or for a limited time you can get one FREE with any $40 soap purchase at Greatcakessoapworks.com!!

Click photo to purchase!

We also carry this stylish two-part soap dish for the sink:

Birch Soap Dish for the Sink

These make perfect gift items when paired with your favorite GCS soaps as well!