Here are the Winners of the Mantra Marbles Challenge!

For the month of August, the Soap Challenge Club did a brand new technique called Mantra Marbles. Erica Pence of Bath Alchemy Lab came up with this technique and offered to share it with us. She also created a tutorial for her latest ezine, which is available for purchase HERE. It’s a unique combination of Ebru paper marbling and the mantra swirl in a slab mold. The benefit of using the slab mold is being able to create a consistent design throughout the entire batch.

Huge thanks to Erica for sharing her technique and also being one of our sponsors this month!! Our other sponsor is a new one – BeScented. They offer a wide variety of fragrance and soaping supplies, so be sure to check them out!

There were so many amazing entries this month, but we only have one grand prize winner. Congratulations goes to Trish Morton from Washington State!! Believe it or not, Trish is a brand-new soaper! In fact, her winning entry, Soap No. 12, was aptly named as it was the 12th batch she’s ever made! Check it out:

Soap No. 12 by Trish

Soap No. 12 by Trish

Be sure to click on the photo to see how she made it! Trish has won a $50 gift certificate from BeScented, plus one online soapmaking class of the her choice from Bath Alchemy Lab. Congratulations, Trish!

Second place goes to Michelle Bailey in South Carolina for her super cool Flame Kissed Marshmallow soap, scented with Marshmallow Fireside from BeScented:

Flame Kissed Marshmallow Soap by Michelle

Flame Kissed Marshmallow Soap by Michelle

Michelle made three other batches for the challenge that didn’t quite make the cut, so be sure to click on the photo to see her blog post about how she made this soap as well as the other batches. She has won a $50 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab, plus free registration to the September Challenge Club. Congratulations, Michelle, on moving up from third place last month!

In third place we have Claudia Carpenter in California, a long-time member and supporter of the Challenge Club, who has placed several times in the top three spots. She created her beautiful soap based on the colors of a Stargazer Lily:

Stargazer Lilies soap by Claudia

Stargazer Lilies soap by Claudia

Claudia has shared her recipe as well as her technique and inspiration on her blog post, so definitely click on the photo for more information about this soap! She has won a $25 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab, plus free registration to the September Challenge Club. Congratulations, Claudia!

The Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Alexis Anderson in Pennsylvania! Alexis created this fabulous Crazy 88 soap:

Crazy 88 soap by Alexis

Crazy 88 soap by Alexis

If you click on the photo you can read more about her soap on her Pinterest Board. She wins a $25 gift certificate from BeScented! Congratulations, Alexis!

You can check out the rest of the entries this month HERE.

For September, we will be doing a technique called the Clyde Slide, named after Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap. Here is the soap I made for the video tutorial:

Ginger Ale soap, made with the Clyde Slide technique by Great Cakes Soapworks

Ginger Ale soap, made with the Clyde Slide technique by Great Cakes Soapworks

Registration will open on Monday, August 31st for the September Challenge Club. We will be dividing the entries between U.S. and international soapmakers again in September. For the U.S. participants, the sponsor is Mad Oils! The grand prize winner will receive a $50 gift certificate plus the winner’s choice of one of their Mica Collections. Second and third place will each receive a $25 gift certificate, and their Sponsor’s Choice winner will receive a mica surprise pack worth more than $25.

For the international participants, the sponsor is Gracefruit Ltd in the UK! The grand prize winner will receive a £75 gift certificate. Second and third place will each receive a £25 gift certificate, and their Sponsor’s Choice winner will also receive a £25 gift certificate.

(Second & third place in each category will still receive free registration to the next month’s Challenge Club as well!)

If you would like to receive notifications about the Challenge Club and soapmaking tutorials, please sign up below:

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Check Out the Winners of the Embracing Opposites Challenge!

Just a quick post announcing the winners of the July Challenge Club. Be sure to click the photos for more information about how the soap was made:

Huge thanks to our sponsors: Nurture Soap Supplies and Riverlea Soap!!

International category:

Grand prize winner is Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in Australia. She wins a $75 gift certificate from Riverlea soap!

Aurora Australis soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Aurora Australis soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Second place goes to Tina Svetek in Slovenia. She wins a $50 gift certificate from Riverlea soap, plus free registration to the August Challenge Club!

Yin yang soap by Tina

Yin yang soap by Tina

Third place goes to Sviatlana in Belarus. She wins a $25 gift certificate from Riverlea soap, plus free registration to the August Challenge Club!

Black & White soap by Sviatlana

Black & White soap by Sviatlana

Sponsor’s Choice winner is Monica Felix in Mexico. She wins a $25 gift certificate from Riverlea Soap!

Opposite Face Soap by Monica Felix

Opposite Face Soap by Monica Felix

U.S. category:

Grand prize winner is Bonnie Howard of The Village Soapsmith in North Carolina. She wins a $100 gift certificate from Nurture Soap Supplies!

Summer & Winter soap by The Village Soapsmith

Summer & Winter soap by The Village Soapsmith

Second place goes to Holly Shelton of Kapia Mera Soap Co. in Tennessee. She wins $25 worth of pigments and micas from Nurture Soap Supplies, including their Really Red! mica, plus free registration to the August Challenge Club.

Embracing Opposites soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

Embracing Opposites soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

Tie for third place goes to Amy Sangder of Whipped Upp in Washington and Michelle Bailey in South Carolina. They also win $25 worth of pigments and micas from Nurture, with the Really Red! mica, and free registration to the August Challenge Club.

Black & White soap by Whipped Upp

Black & White soap by Whipped Upp

Fire & Water soap by Michelle Bailey

Fire & Water soap by Michelle Bailey

Sponsor’s Choice winner is Brittany Warwick in Wisconsin. She wins a basic 2.5 lb. tall & skinny mold from Nurture Soap Supplies!

What Happens Under the Field soap by Brittany Warwick

What Happens Under the Field soap by Brittany Warwick

We used a new link-up platform this month, and I still need to figure out how to share the rest of the entries with you. I’ll figure it out as soon as I can!

Meanwhile, registration for the August Challenge Club opens on Monday. We are doing a new technique called Mantra Marbles. Sponsors are BeScented and Bath Alchemy Lab. More information is available on the registration page. Here’s one of the soaps I made for the video tutorial:

Cherry Citrus Mantra Marbles soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Cherry Citrus Mantra Marbles soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Hope you’ll join us!

Winner of the Tagline Contest!

I am so grateful to everyone who participated in the Tagline Contest!! There were so many wonderful suggestions, and I spent all day trying to decide on a winner! I asked my family for their input as well, and we all ended up agreeing that there was one that particularly stood out because it is simple, reflects the quality of the soap, and also has a subtle and catchy double meaning. For those reasons, we chose “Raising the Bar”!!!! Thank you, John, for helping me come up with a truly great tagline!

Tagline Contest for Great Cakes Soapworks

GreatCakesSoapworks_new175x135Back in January 2005, I named my business Great Cakes Soapworks because of a slogan that I believe was divinely inspired: “A great cake of soap can cleanse your body, but only a great God can cleanse your soul.” I woke up one morning and it was just in my head. It reflects my faith, as well as the quality of my product, and it will always be part of my business. However, I’ve come to realize that I need something short and sweet that’s easier to communicate. Now that I have a new logo, I’m ready for a new tagline!

I’ve tossed around a few ideas, but I haven’t been able to land on anything yet. So now I’m asking for your help! I’m looking for a quick tagline that is no more than three or four words. I’ve learned that it should be ONE of these four things:
1. What you do,
2. Who you do it for,
3. How you do it, or
4. A mantra/value you stand behind

Enter your suggestion(s) in the comments below. No limit on entries, but I will only be accepting them until this Sunday, July 12th at 10pm CST. If I end up using your suggestion, or your suggestion leads me to the tagline that I end up using, you will win your choice of FIVE bars of soap!

Thank you in advance!!

Commments are now closed.

Announcing the Winners of the Ebru Challenge Club!

For the month of June, the technique was based on Ebru inspired designs. Ebru is the ancient art of Turkish paper marbling and many of the designs can be translated into soap. We had done other Ebru inspired soap techniques in previous Challenge Clubs – including the peacock swirl and combing techniques, which is why this month participants were limited to free-hand designs that could be accomplished with a single skewer or chopstick. You will see that the creativity that came out of this challenge really is astounding!

All participants competed together this month which meant we had 70 entries to check out and vote upon. Fortunately, I am not part of the voting process – and I don’t envy the members this month who had to decide who their top five choices were! Our sponsor this month was Majestic Mountain Sage, and they came through with a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize winner, and $25 gift certificates for second and TWO third place winners, PLUS their Sponsor’s Choice prize winner. Huge thanks for their continued support of the Club!

And now for the winners!! This was one of our tightest contests yet with all the top place finishers within a couple votes of one another and a tie for third place. So congratulations to Yvonne Pedersen in Norway for her first place finish and winner of the $100 grand prize gift certificate!! She created a simple, yet elegant Ebru-inspired soap that looks like it could be fine china:

Ebru-inspired soap by Yvonne

Ebru-inspired soap by Yvonne

In second place we have Svetlana Avtonova in Russia! She created a beautiful pomegranate tree based on the poem “The Legend of the Pomegranate” that she has posted in both English and Russian on her blog. Click the photo to see her post:

Ebru inspired pomegranate tree soap by Svetlana

Ebru inspired pomegranate tree soap by Svetlana

In third place is Tatiana Serko in California, and Tina Svetek in Slovenia. Tatiana created a whimsical Ebru-inspired owl in her soap with incredible detail:

Crazy Owl by Tatiana

Crazy Owl by Tatiana

Tina’s soap mimics the Ebru style of creating birds. She has some really great photos of her process on her Pinterest board as well, so be sure to click the photo to check them out:

Ebru Birds in Soap by Tina

Ebru Birds in Soap by Tina

Finally, Majestic Mountain Sage chose Stacey Tunnicliff of Craft-T-Country in New York as their Sponsor’s Choice prize winner. Stacey created a variety of beautiful flowers and leaves for her Ebru soap, and here are the results:

Ebru soap by Craft-T-Country

Ebru soap by Craft-T-Country

Please do not miss the chance to see the rest of the entries, as they were all really spectacular!! They are located HERE.

I know you may be anxious to hear what the next three month’s of challenges will be, so here you go! Registration will open Monday, June 29th, and we will be doing a theme technique called Embracing Opposites. Here are the soaps I made for the tutorial:

Opposite color theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite color theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

We will be dividing the entries between U.S. and international soapmakers again in July. For the U.S. participants, the sponsor is Nurture Soap Supplies! The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift certificate, second and third place will receive a mixture of at least $25 worth of pigments/micas including the Really Red! mica, and their Sponsor’s Choice winner will receive a 2.5 pound tall and skinny mini basic soap mold with mica samples.

For the international participants, the sponsor is Riverlea Soap in South Africa! The grand prize winner will receive a $75 gift certificate, second place will receive a $50 gift certificate, and third place and the Sponsor’s Choice winner will each receive $25 gift certificates!

(Second & third place will still receive free registration to the next month’s Challenge Club as well!)

Registration for July only is $5.95. You will also have the opportunity (only in July!) to purchase a 3-month registration that includes July through September for just $15.

In August, everyone will compete together again. We have a new technique from Erica Pence of Bath Alchemy Lab called Mantra Marbles. She and BeScented will sponsor the challenge.

September’s challenge is the Clyde Slide, created by Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap. Separate link-ups again – U.S. sponsor is Mad Oils; international sponsor is Gracefruit in the UK.

Mini Dessert Soaps Challenge Club Winners

This month’s challenge was completely different from any other challenge we have done before! Cee Gordon of Oil & Butter taught us how to make dessert soaps with various types of soapmaking methods, including cold process, hot process, whipped soap, melt and pour, and soap fondant. I challenged everyone create four mini desserts that looked as realistic as possible and to use at least one REAL food item in their soaps as well. The goal was to create soap ART, not necessarily usable soap. So impractical!! I feared the challenge would be overwhelming with so many different variables, but everyone really flourished when they were given the freedom to be artistic, and I heard a LOT of members say this was their favorite challenge yet! Huge thanks to Cee for guest teaching this month – she gave us some really great information that is really going to help us in so many areas of our soapmaking!

We kept things interesting by doing separate link-ups for U.S. and international soapmakers again this month. This meant double the prizes, which of course is a huge benefit! Brambleberry sponsored the U.S. portion of the challenge with a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize, plus 2nd and 3rd place AND the Sponsor’s Choice winner will receive four 4 oz. bottles of some of their newest fragrances. (Second and third place also receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club.) Just across the border in British Columbia, Canada, Voyageur Soap & Candle Co. sponsored the International portion of the challenge with a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize as well, plus $25 gift certificates for 2nd & 3rd place and the Sponsor’s Choice prize. Again, 2nd and 3rd place also receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club as well!

Shall we get on with the winners then? Let’s start with the International Challenge. Congratulations goes to Odette Handley of Riverlea Soap in South Africa for her delectable Pistachio Cream Cake, White Chocolate Berry Swirl, Strawberry Mousse Cake, and Mini Strawberry Cupcake. Her real food item was chocolate chips – both brown and white. Odette is a long-time Challenge Club member, and this is the first time she’s placed – what a great win for her!

Mini Dessert Soaps by Riverlea Soap

Mini Dessert Soaps by Riverlea Soap

Second and third place were up in the air until the very last minute! We had two people tied for 2nd and two people tied for 3rd just a few hours before the voting ended. When it was all finished, here were the results:

Second place in the International Challenge goes to Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, in Montreal, Canada. Jelena has participated in several challenges and placed second twice before! Her mini desserts made with cocoa powder and half & half include rose cupcakes, coffee and caramel mousse, chocolate butterfly cake, and salted chocolate dipped mandarin slices. All of them look very realistic!

Mini Desserts Soaps by Soap Techniques

Mini Desserts Soaps by Soap Techniques

Congratulations to Caroline Lufkin of Merry Day Soaps in Japan for her third place finish! Caroline has been participating in the Challenge Club for quite some time, and this is her first time to place. She did an excellent job documenting her processes (which were quite extensive) to achieve her beautiful mini dessert soaps! First is a checkered chocolate coffee cake made with yogurt, coffee, and cocoa powder, second is a lollipop made with yogurt, third is an apple kiwi tart made with yogurt, tumeric, coffee, cocoa powder and poppy seeds, and fourth is a purple pearl flower cupcake made with yogurt, coffee, cocoa powder, sugar. And no, they aren’t edible!!

Mini Dessert Soaps by Merry Day Soaps

Mini Dessert Soaps by Merry Day Soaps

Finally the Sponsor’s Choice prize was chosen by Voyageur Soap & Candle Co. Congratulations goes to Yvonne Pederson in Norway! Her mini dessert soaps include a lavender macaron, almond crust vanilla pie with cherries, a rose cupcake, and a triple dessert cake with chocolate sauce made with ground coffee & oats, cocoa powder, and some olive oil infused with paprika.

Mini Dessert Soaps by Yvonne Pedersen

Mini Dessert Soaps by Yvonne Pedersen

For the U.S. challenge, the grand prize winner is Teressa Mahoney (Nourishing Handmade Body Care) from Parker, Colorado! Terresa took second place in last month’s Spinning Swirl challenge. For this month, she created these gorgeous mini desserts with cocoa powder, coconut oil, sugar pearls, turmeric and red decorating sugar for her real food items. Check out her wedding cake, blueberry tart, white chocolate truffles, and créme brulee (your mouth is already watering, isn’t it?):

Mini Dessert Soaps by Terresa Mahoney

Mini Dessert Soaps by Teressa Mahoney

In second place, we have Tatiana from Walnut Grove, California! She has been participating in the challenges for the past several months and won the Sponsor’s Choice prize from TKB Trading for her landscape soap in April. This month, her four mini desserts include pancakes with cream and raspberry filling, a chocolatier cup, Minnie Mouse cupcake, and a two-tiered decorated chocolate cake. Each of these delicious-looking desserts was made with cocoa powder or goat’s milk:

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tatiana

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tatiana

For third place, we have a new Challenge Club member taking the prize: Tovah Tumarkin of Nectar Bath Treats in Las Vegas, Nevada! Tovah’s mini dessert creations include a creamsicle float, a soft serve ice cream cone, a rose cupcake, and a raspberry macaron, all made with handmade almond milk. Be prepared to lick your lips when you see these beauties:

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tovah (Nectar Bath Treats)

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tovah (Nectar Bath Treats)

And finally, the Sponsor’s Choice winner was picked by Anne-Marie at Brambleberry. She chose Donna Rangel also of Nectar Bath Treats (in Las Vegas) who created her desserts with Greek yogurt plus a few other yummy food items. These are Donna’s 3-tiered lavender wedding cake, cookie sandwich pop with real mini chocolate chips, sundae fun-day 2-tiered cake with real candy sprinkles, and blueberry cheesecake:

Mini Dessert Soaps by Donna (Nectar Bath Treats)

Mini Dessert Soaps by Donna (Nectar Bath Treats)

Of course you would like to see the rest of the entries too! The International entries are located HERE, and the U.S. entries are HERE.

Anyone is welcome to join us next month for the Ebru Soap Challenge. We are taking a week off because of Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. so registration will open on Monday, June 1st. Here is my practice batch, which will probably end up in my video tutorial:

Ebru soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Ebru soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Since several international participants requested that we combine the challenges sometimes as well, this will be a combined challenge for all, and Majestic Mountain Sage is our sponsor with a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize winner. If you haven’t signed up to receive notifications yet, and would like to participate, please click below:

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Returning to the Olathe Farmer’s Market

veggiesI was a vendor at the Olathe Farmer’s Market from 2004 – 2012. We had one location in downtown Olathe in a city parking lot. We tried moving to the Mahaffie Farmstead one year, but quickly decided it was better to go back to the downtown location. The market was the best it ever was in 2007. The economy was great then, and we had plenty of customers! These numbers slowly declined over the following years and several of my friends who had been vendors with me – even longer than I had been – decided they were done in 2013, so I threw in the towel with them. It was about that time that I was able to start the Soap Challenge Club.

Last year, the City of Olathe opened a second location for the farmer’s market in Blackbob Park – really close to my house! It was a smaller site, but definitely convenient to visit for our family. They also moved the downtown market to the new Community Center parking lot soon after it opened. I heard reports from the market manager that both of these locations were excellent and had great traffic. I still wasn’t sure I wanted to go back though. I had gotten used to having my Saturday mornings freed up! By the time I made my decision, another soapmaker had already joined the Blackbob venue close to my house, so I went with the Community Center location. The Community Center is fairly close to downtown where I had met most of my original customers, and many of them had kept in touch.

It’s been four weeks now, and I think this is going to be a good thing for me. Traffic isn’t extremely busy yet since most people are waiting until the tomatoes and corn are ready, and still I’ve been happy with my sales! We’ve also had some issues with the weather. I didn’t show up for the opening weekend since it was raining all morning, and almost missed out yesterday because the forecast said rain when I went to bed Friday night. Yet, somehow things cleared up and I was able to go! Last weekend a really nice photographer came through and took some photos of me and my booth and sent them to me:

Collage of photos from the Olathe Farmer's Market

Collage of photos from the Olathe Farmer’s Market

I’ve realized over the past several weeks that I really enjoy the interaction with my customers, and those who may be customers eventually, but aren’t quite ready yet. I love how the college students will ooooo and ahhhh over all the different scents, and the older generation likes to take their time and tell their stories. I get to hear about people’s various skin ailments and what they are looking for to find some relief. It’s so rewarding when the people who tried a product from me the week before come back for more the following week! I enjoy giving away little surprises to my customers when they least expect it and seeing the joy that it brings. And of course, the best part is spending some quality time with my girls – when I can get them up early on a Saturday morning to come with me!

My older daughter helped me so much when it was sprinkling the first weekend I went to the market.  (This was before I painted the display boxes my husband made for me!)

My older daughter helped me so much when it was sprinkling the first weekend I went to the market. (This was before I painted the display boxes my husband made for me!)

I’m looking forward to a great season! Want to come find me? Here’s a map! The market is open from 7:30am to around noon every Saturday morning. Hope to see you there!

Spinning Swirl Soap Challenge Winners

Ask any of the member of the Challenge Club this month – the Spinning Swirl was a challenge, but so much fun!! Quite a few members created multiple soaps with this technique because of the fun factor and some because they wanted to test out several ideas or they just wanted to get their final soap up to their standards. (We have a few perfectionists in the group!) As a result, this was one of the closest challenges we’ve ever had! This month I divided the group into U.S. and International soapmakers with separate sponsors for each category. Huge thanks to Mad Oils for sponsoring the U.S. challenge with a $50 gift certificate for the grand prize winner, as well as a cute prize package for their Sponsor’s Choice winner (seen below)!! Gracefruit Ltd. from the UK really stepped up as our first international challenge sponsor with a £50 gift certificate for the grand prize winner, and a £25 gift certificate for their Sponsor’s Choice winner. Elizabeth Carnahan has been amazing to work with!

Let’s start with the International challenge. We had a runaway grand prize winner in this challenge. Can you believe she’s only been making soap for five months? She made four attempts at the Spinning Swirl before she was satisfied with her work, and it really paid off! Congratulations to Sonya Mulholland in the United Kingdom!! (You can click on any of the photos for more information about the soaps in the challenge.):

Sonya's Spinning Swirl Soap

Sonya’s Spinning Swirl Soap

In second place, we have Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques from Canada. Jelena has been doing challenges for several months, and also placed second in our Spoon Swirl challenge last December! Here is her beautiful six-color Spinning Swirl soap, scented with Fata Morgana:

Mirage Spinning Swirl soap by Soap Techniques

Mirage Spinning Swirl soap by Soap Techniques

For third place in the international challenge, we have a tie!! This hasn’t happened since last June! Congratulations to Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in Australia and Lesley Williams of Renaissance Soaps in New Zealand for their gorgeous entries! Lisa’s soap is her signature rainbow, with a spin of course!

Rainbow Spinning Swirl Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Rainbow Spinning Swirl Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Lesley created this lovely Tiger Stripe Spinning Swirl:

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright Spinning Swirl Soap by Renaissance Soaps

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright Spinning Swirl Soap by Renaissance Soaps

Second and third place winners receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club! And now, for the international Sponsor’s Choice prize. Gracefruit has chosen Ruth Höfer from Austria!! Congratulations!! Ruth has been a long-time member and huge supporter of the Challenge Club, so I couldn’t be happier for her. I have seen her make pink soaps in previous challenges, and have verified that pink is indeed one of her favorite colors! Here is her beautiful soap:

Ruth's Spinning Swirl Soap

Ruth’s Spinning Swirl Soap

And now, for the U.S. challenge winners! In first place, taking home the grand prize, congratulations goes to Claudia Carpenter from California!! Claudia has been creating some stunning soaps for the Challenge Club lately! This is her third attempt at the amazing Spinning Swirl soap, created with two greens, two pinks, and cream-colored soap, scented with lemongrass, sage and tea tree essential oils:

Spinning Swirl Soap by Claudia Carpenter

Spinning Swirl Soap by Claudia Carpenter

Claudia says, “It’s official — I love, love, love the spin swirl!”

In second place, just two votes behind Claudia, is Teressa Mahoney of Nourishing Handmade Body Care from Colorado with a fantastic Forest Bark Spinning Swirl soap! Teressa made three batches with this technique, and this one happens to be the second out of the three:

Forest Bark Spinning Swirl Soap by Teressa Mahoney

Forest Bark Spinning Swirl Soap by Teressa Mahoney

And in third place, we have Mandy Davis of Minne-Soap-Ah from Minnesota! Mandy created a beautiful Sea Glass Spinning Swirl soap with a gorgeous color palette of sea green, teal, turquoise, purple and white:

Sea Glass Spinning Swirl Soap by Minne-Soap-Ah

Sea Glass Spinning Swirl Soap by Minne-Soap-Ah

Congratulations to Teressa and Mandy for winning free registration to the May Challenge Club!

Finally, Mad Oils has chosen Leela King-Sannyasin of Swirling Sky from California to receive their Sponsor’s Choice prize. Here is her bright, beautiful soap:

Spinning Swirl Soap by Swirling Sky

Spinning Swirl Soap by Swirling Sky

In the interest of sharing beautiful soap, I’m sure you will want to see the rest of the entries! You can find the International entries HERE, and the U.S. entries HERE.

Next month, I’m excited to have Cee Gordon of Oil & Butter as our guest teacher! This is the first time anyone other than myself has taught the Club, but since Cee has so expertly married the techniques from cake decorating with soap, I knew she was the perfect person to show us how to create beautiful mini dessert soaps with cold process, melt & pour, and fondant-like soap techniques. Here is a sample of what she will be showing us inside the Club:

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon of Oil & Butter

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon of Oil & Butter

My melt & pour soap just arrived via UPS this afternoon, and I can’t wait to play along! Do you have to use melt & pour to do this challenge? No. But it will be fun!

Great news!! With the huge success of the international challenge, we will have two sponsors again for May! The U.S. sponsor will be Brambleberry with a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize, plus these four fragrances for second and third place winners AND the Sponsor’s Choice winner:

Electric Lemonade Cocktail, Island Escape, Ginger Patchouli, and Crisp Cotton fragrances from Brambleberry

Electric Lemonade Cocktail, Island Escape, Ginger Patchouli, and Crisp Cotton fragrances from Brambleberry

Plus, our international sponsor will be Voyageur Soap & Candle Co. in British Columbia, Canada!! Their grand prize is a $100 gift certificate, plus a $25 gift certificate for their Sponsor’s Choice winner!

Registration for the May Challenge opens Monday. If you’d like to receive a notification, please click the link below:

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Why Join the Soap Challenge Club? (I’m scared…)

I believe most of my readers are familiar with the monthly Soap Challenge Club that I host each month. This is just a quick post to encourage those who may be on the fence about joining in the fun! I’ve spoken to several soapmakers in person as well as via email who have been shy about signing up for the challenges. I believe most of them simply feel they can’t compete or their skills aren’t “up to par”. And to that I say – “Pshaw!!!”

Three Reasons To Re-Consider If This Is You:

1. Joining the Challenge Club will push you to do things with soap that you had either never dreamed possible or would never have done on your own.

Here’s some feedback I received from a first time participant last month:

“It’s definitely a great learning experience and it’s so interesting to see all the creativity out there. I’ll definitely keep taking part. It was really fun to push myself to do something new and the next 3 months will push me some more.” -Fran

2. It’s a great way to meet other soapmakers and receive some amazing encouragement and feedback!

While it’s possible to register for the challenge, see the tutorial, make your soap and remain anonymous by not sharing it, I believe that’s just cheating yourself of the full experience! I understand it feels risky to put your work out there, and sometimes life just gets in the way, but I promise to personally visit each submission and leave encouraging feedback, and a lot of the other members will make comments like these:

“Your soap looks stunning and amazing!”
“Now that is really fantastic!! Really beautiful! Love all the different elements that went together to make this soap!”
“Ahh, what a beautiful soap. I love your idea and colors. Congrats well done”
“What a cute idea! They look great”
“This is so beautiful! You are a true artist.”
“Excellent job! It looks incredible :)”

3. Your creativity and soapmaking talent will grow!

One of my favorite things about seeing so many members return month after month is to see the improvement in their skills! I could call out several people, but I’ll just tell this one story without naming any names. I remember meeting one of our members at the Central Soaper’s Workshop last year when she was a brand-new soapmaker. In the past year she has participated in every challenge and is even entering her soaps in other contests! Her work just continues to improve and amaze me!

Quote from yet another member: “The challenges are great for making us all better soap makers!”

And that, my soapy friends, is why the Challenge Club exists!

The April Challenge Club is all about the Spinning Swirls:

Spin Swirl soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Spin Swirl soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Of course, this month we are doing something a little bit different and special for the international soapmakers. Anyone who is outside the U.S. will have their very own link-up and their very own prize! I’m so pleased that Gracefruit Ltd. is excited to sponsor this portion of the challenge with a £50 gift certificate for first place and a £25 gift certificate for their Sponsor’s Choice prize. Spread the word!

Shout out to Mad Oils for sponsoring the U.S. portion of the challenge as well! Don’t worry – everyone who enters gets to vote in both contests!

You have two options to register this week only (closes Monday, April 6 at 2pm CST):
1. Register for the April Challenge only for $5.95
2. Register for the April, May and June for just $15.00 (April +$9.05)

Don’t miss out! For more info about May & June challenges and to register:

register-now

Central Soaper’s Workshop 2015

I can’t believe this was the LAST ONE. Central Soaper’s Workshop was founded by Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking three years ago, and last weekend was the third and final Workshop. (Insert sad face here!) We had an amazing line-up of speakers and presenters, with an option to attend the business track or the soapmaking track, OR there was a virtual option available as well for those who couldn’t attend in person. Everyone who was able to be there in person will have access to the virtual sessions as well – BONUS!

My part in the event was to teach some soap designs. I don’t have as many photos as I would like, but here are a couple of the soaps I made:

First soap - hanger swirl inside with Taiwan (linear) swirl on top

Hanger swirl inside with Taiwan (linear) swirl on top

The class requested a DNA/helix swirl, so of course I complied!

The class requested a DNA/helix swirl, so of course I complied! There’s a drop swirl inside.

I snagged this photo off Instagram.  realfoodfarms won the prize for the most #centralsoapers social media love!  Click the photo to check it out!

I snagged this photo off Instagram. realfoodfarms won the prize for the most #centralsoapers social media love! Click the photo to check it out!

This is the Litsea Lavender gradient soap I made on Sunday morning with lab colors from The Sage, and essential oils from Brambleberry. The colors should eventually bleed together!

This is the Litsea Lavender gradient soap I made on Sunday morning with lab colors from The Sage, and essential oils from Brambleberry. The colors should eventually bleed together!

The highlight for most of us was getting to meet the Soap Queen, Anne-Marie Faiola of Brambleberry. She demonstrated how to make beer soap and brine soap for the Soapmaking Track and gave Six Steps to Social Media Success for the Business Track. I enjoyed seeing her soap demonstration:

Anne-Marie Faiola discussing how to make a drop swirl beer soap

Anne-Marie Faiola discussing how to make a drop swirl beer soap

Brambleberry has been such a huge supporter of the Soap Challenge Club from the very beginning, so this is one of my favorite photos from the weekend (and my current Facebook profile pic):

Me, Anne-Marie and Kenna

Me, Anne-Marie and Kenna

I also got to meet Melinda Wolff-Foster of Melinda’s Naturals! She has been a member of the Challenge Club for several months and winner of the DNA/Helix swirl challenge last month! (She brought one of the soaps from that winning batch to show us – it was really cool!) Melinda discussed in her class how to formulate cold-process soap recipes for intricate designs and then demonstrated how she makes a NINE-color swirled soap. I was fortunate enough to witness her cutting the soap:

Melinda cutting her soap - and the final reveal!

Melinda cutting her soap – and the final reveal!

Majestic Mountain Sage sponsored the soap lab again this year which allowed every participant to make at least two one-pound batches of soap and practice the designs they learned.

Soapmakers at work!!

Soapmakers at work!!

Here I am with Andee and Tina from The Sage - love these gals and their endless soap knowledge!!  Grateful for their support of the Challenge Club too!

Here I am with Andee and Tina – love these gals and their endless soap knowledge!! Grateful for their support of the Challenge Club too!

On Sunday, RuthAnn Matthews of Divine Scents showed us how to make hot-process soap in the crockpot. She made it look so easy, and gave tips for keeping the soap fluid enough for designs at the end of the cook.

Ruth-Ann stirring down the soap as it cooks.

Ruth-Ann stirring down the soap as it cooks.

There were other presenters in the soapmaking track that I missed because I slipped out to sit in on a couple sessions in the business track – I wished I could have cloned myself and done both, but I’ll just have to check those out when the virtual area is ready to go! Preston Tillotson of Sudz by Studz rocked my world with his excellent information on how to use Instagram (my username is “greatcakesoap” – seriously, go find me!), and I also learned all about the 7 Deadly Sins of Wholesale from Lela Barker of Lucky Break Consulting.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting two other Challenge Club members while I was there (hey Kelly and MaryLou!) and visiting with other soapmakers, both local and nearly local. Overall, it was an amazing event and I hope we get to do it again sometime…