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!

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:

notify-me

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:

notify-me

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

Challenge Club Landscape Soap Winners!

For the month of March, the Challenge Club tackled landscape soaps – nature scenes from the land, sea or sky. They were all made in log molds so that when the soap was cut, you could see the design inside. Members also had to find an inspiration photo or drawing for their soap. This was one of the more challenging designs and we had some amazing entries!!

Huge thanks to TKB Trading for sponsoring this month! The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift certificate!! TKB has also chosen a Sponsor’s Choice winner to receive their EZ Eyeshadow Kit.

Once again, our grand prize winner really ran away with the prize! Congratulations to Claudia Carpenter in Los Altos, California for her beautiful ocean scene with the sun setting behind it! Claudia is a long-time member of the Club and has been consistently placing in the top 3 ever since she joined. However, this is her first time winning the grand prize, and I couldn’t be happier for her! Please click on the photo to see how she made this fabulous soap:

Claudia's ocean soap, scented with Abalone & Sea

Claudia’s ocean soap, scented with Abalone & Sea

Her inspiration photo:

Claudia-insipration

Second and third place were quite close! (Even fourth place was only one vote behind third…)

Long-time Challenge Club member Claire Edmunds of Saponista’s Artisan Soap from Plymouth, UK made second place with her fabulous rendition of a field of lavender in Devon which is near where she lives. I love this picture of her inspiration photo next to her soap:

Claire's lavender field soap

Claire’s lavender field soap

Another veteran of the Club, Amy B of Middleton, WI, took third place with her stunning birch tree soap. Be sure to click on the photo to read all about her inspiration and how she made this soap:

Amy's Birch Tree soap, scented with Oakmoss Sandalwood

Amy’s Birch Tree soap, scented with Oakmoss Sandalwood

Her inspiration photo:

amyb-inspiration

Claire and Amy both receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club – yippee!!

Congratulations to Tatiana of Walnut Creek, California!! TKB Trading has chosen her mountain scene soap for their Sponsor’s Choice prize! This was her very first Soap Challenge and she created this beautiful soap, that she calls “Evening Sunset”:

Evening Sunset by Tatiana

Evening Sunset by Tatiana

If you are interested in seeing the rest of the entries for the Landscape Soap Challenge (who wouldn’t??), you can click HERE.

Now for the announcement you’ve been waiting for! The next THREE months of challenges:

For April, the technique is Spinning Swirls! We are going to do something just a bit differently…I have lined up TWO sponsors and we will have TWO sets of winners. Soapmakers from the U.S. and soapmakers from the rest of the world will be competing separately. Everyone who joins will be able to vote in both contests. Mad Oils is excited to sponsor the U.S. portion and will be providing a $50 gift certificate to the grand prize winner. Their Sponsor’s Choice prize includes 2.3 oz. of hibiscus petals, 2 oz. of Sexy Beast and Vanilla Milk fragrances, and samples of their new Hot Pants and Blue Bling micas. Gracefruit Ltd from the UK is a new sponsor to the Challenge Club, but certainly not new to the soapmaking world. They are sponsoring the non-U.S. portion and will provide a £50 gift certificate to the grand prize winner, and a £25 gift certificate for their Sponsor’s Choice prize!

Here is the soap I made for the video tutorial:

Grapefruit Ginger soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Grapefruit Ginger soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

I’m pretty excited about May too! We have another twist – a guest teacher!! Cee Gordon of Oil & Butter has agreed to teach all of us how to make dessert soaps using cold-process, melt & pour, and soap fondant! Have you seen her work? Here’s just a sample of what she can do:

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon

Brambleberry is also excited to sponsor this challenge! They are in for a $100 gift certificate to the grand prize winner! The Sponsor’s Choice winner will receive four 4 oz. bottles of some of their newest fragrances. If all goes well in April, we may split the challenge again and have two sponsors. I will keep you posted!

In June, the technique is Ebru Art. This is a paper marbling technique that can be translated into soap. I’ve made several soaps with this technique and didn’t realize that was what I was doing! Here’s one of them:

Purple Mangosteen soap by Great Cakes Soapworks, circa 2012

Purple Mangosteen soap by Great Cakes Soapworks, circa 2012

Majestic Mountain Sage is our sponsor, and there will be more details about that later!

For now, you should know that registration opens Monday (March 30th) for these challenges! You can choose to do April only for $5.95 or do all three months for just $15. If you haven’t signed up for the Challenge Club newsletter, be sure to click the link below so you don’t miss any notifications:

notify-me

Coffee Soap Lather Test Update

It’s been nine days since I did the lather test comparison on the cocoa butter vs. kokum butter coffee soaps, so I figured it was time for an update! If you missed that post, it’s located HERE.

Basically, all of these soaps in their slight variations on recipe are lathering a LOT more now. Check this out:

This soap was made 2.16.15 with 30% tallow and 5% cocoa butter

This soap was made 2.16.15 with 30% tallow and 5% cocoa butter

This soap was made 2.17.15 with 25% tallow and 5% cocoa butter

This soap was made 2.17.15 with 25% tallow and 5% cocoa butter

This soap was made 2.19.15 with 25% tallow and 3% kokum butter

This soap was made 2.19.15 with 25% tallow and 3% kokum butter

This soap was made 2.19.15 with 25% tallow and 3% kokum butter (with avocado oil added)

This soap was made 2.19.15 with 25% tallow and 3% kokum butter (with avocado oil added)

With a little extra cure time, it would appear that the kokum butter is lathering just a tad more than the cocoa butter. As for moisturization, they feel about the same – the kokum soaps might be a tad more moisturizing. My hands are dry right now no matter which soap I use since it’s so terribly cold. That trend should be changing soon, however! With so little difference between the two types of soap, my plan is to go ahead with the cocoa butter recipe for now since I have so much on hand and possibly switch to kokum when the cocoa butter runs out.

February Challenge Club Winners Announced!

For February, the Soap Challenge Club technique was the DNA/helix swirl. This swirl was originally created in a log mold by Sabine of Soap Star, with design credit for the slab mold version by Challenge Club member Amy B. in Wisconsin who used the technique for the combing swirl challenge last November. We are so grateful to Nature’s Garden for sponsoring this month’s challenge! The grand prize winner will receive a $50 gift certificate!! Nature’s Garden has also chosen a Sponsor’s Choice winner who will receive a $25 gift certificate!

We had so many amazing entries this month, but our first place winner was above and beyond all the other winners with a total of 46 votes. Congratulations goes to Melinda Wolff of Melinda’s Naturals in Joshua, Texas, for her stunning Double Helix Swirl Design in a log mold:

Double Helix Swirl by Melinda's Naturals

Double Helix Swirl by Melinda’s Naturals

As a side note, I’m so excited that I get to meet Melinda at the Central Soaper’s Workshop in just a few weeks!! Registration for this event closes FRIDAY, and there are virtual registration spots open as well, so if you don’t live in the Midwest, you can still attend in your jammies!

In second place, we have a new winner – this was just her second time participating in the Challenge Club! Congratulations to Algeana of Back2Eden Natural Bath & Body in Savannah, Georgia, with her super colorful DNA/Helix swirl in a slab mold:

DNA/Helix swirl by Back2Eden Natural Bath & Body

DNA/Helix swirl by Back2Eden Natural Bath & Body

Third place goes to long-time member of the Challenge Club, Eileen of Simple Pleasures Handmade Soap in Alberta, Canada with her rainbow DNA/Helix swirl in a log mold, using the slab mold technique!

DNA/Helix swirl by Simple Pleasures Handmade Soap

DNA/Helix swirl by Simple Pleasures Handmade Soap

Second and third place winners receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club!!

Finally, Nature’s Garden has chosen Stacey of Yellow Cottage Soapery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to receive their Sponsor’s Choice prize!! Stacey’s soap is a beautiful twist on the DNA swirl to create this floral look:

Floral/DNA swirl by Yellow Cottage Soapery

Floral/DNA swirl by Yellow Cottage Soapery

Isn’t it amazing how each of these soaps is so different from one another? This is the creativity that I love to see come out of the Club. I’m sure you’d like to see the rest of the entries as well, right? You can check them out HERE.

And if you would like to join us for the March Challenge Club, we will be doing landscape designs! Here is the soap I created for the video tutorial:

Landscape soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Landscape soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

We have a new sponsor for March: TKB Trading! They are providing a $100 gift certificate to the grand prize winner, and their EZ Eyeshadow Kit for their Sponsor’s Choice prize. Registration for this technique will open this Monday, March 2nd. You can sign up to receive a notification so you don’t miss it:

notify-me

Re-formulating My Cold-Process Recipe, part 3

If you missed part 1 and 2, they are located HERE and HERE.

I’ve done six variations of recipes with lard and/or tallow since Part 2. So far, I still like the way the tallow performs in the soap and I believe it will be in my final formulation – so far. What I wasn’t sure about just yet was how to get the soap to be hard AND long-lasting. I received a tip from Sarah Chapin of Whimsical Soap Works that kokum butter was the answer to long-lasting soap for her formulation, so I ordered some to try it out. Sarah says that she preferred kokum butter over cocoa butter because she could use less kokum butter and the soap felt less drying than soap made with cocoa butter.

Since I was needing to re-stock some coffee soap, I went ahead and made a couple batches with cocoa butter and a couple batches with kokum butter. I wanted to differentiate between the different batches, so the first cocoa butter recipe is just a plain coffee soap (with orange and spicy essential oils – totally yum!), the second cocoa butter recipe has a cocoa powder swirl, the first kokum butter recipe has a red clay swirl, and the second kokum butter recipe has a yellow clay swirl.

Moroccan Spice Coffee Soaps by Great Cakes Soapworks

Moroccan Spice Coffee Soaps by Great Cakes Soapworks

I was surprised that the first cocoa butter recipe actually performed the best out of the four, as far as taking the most time to trace, hardness and lather!! It only has 5% cocoa butter, and I also left 30% tallow in the mix, and some sodium lactate with 6% superfat, and a 33% lye solution. They are all quite hard bars, and it’s been 5-8 days since they were all made. They all lathered well, with just a few minor differences. Here are the results:

First batch of coffee soap with cocoa butter

First batch of coffee soap with cocoa butter

The second recipe I just swapped the amounts of tallow and coconut to see if there was a difference, and the only difference I noted was the size of the bubbles – they were larger and less dense.

Second batch of coffee soap with cocoa butter

Second batch of coffee soap with cocoa butter

For the kokum butter test recipes, I just used 3% kokum and increased the amount of olive. These batches are fresher than the cocoa butter ones, so they didn’t feel as hard even without adding water, and they also didn’t lather as quickly as the cocoa butter bars.

First batch coffee soap with kokum butter

First batch coffee soap with kokum butter

I also tried one with some avocado oil in it, so it had less shea butter. Fairly similar results to the other kokum butter bar:

Second batch of coffee soap with kokum butter

Second batch of coffee soap with kokum butter

I did have overheating issues with all of these coffee soaps, but it could have been the spicy essential oils.

Forgot to take a photo of the first cocoa butter batch, but it had a small crack down the center also.

Forgot to take a photo of the first cocoa butter batch, but it had a small crack down the center also.

So my next test will be to make a batch of my best selling Stress Relief soap with my (so far) favorite cocoa butter recipe and compare the results with the original recipe. I will also continue to monitor these soaps as they cure!

Re-formulating My Cold-Process Soap Recipe, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can read it HERE.

After hearing back from my readers, my thoughts about lard and tallow are definitely being challenged! I have been learning about the benefits of both from Katrina Kimball of Sego Lily Soap and Erin Burke of Modern Girl Beauty. Anita Faulkner from Sadie’s Mission Soaps said the majority of her customers have no issues with (beef) tallow, and suggested that I substitute tallow for lard in my previous recipe. So, after the input from these fine ladies, I decided to decided to go ahead and try beef tallow for my next test recipe!

The recipe is nearly the same as the last one, but I went ahead and increased the tallow to 30%, decreasing the shea butter and castor oil. This is the recipe I used for Bergamot Mandarin:

30% tallow
25% olive
25% coconut
10% shea butter
5% castor
5% avocado
(0.8 oz. fragrance per pound of oils)

6.5% superfat
33% lye solution
(meant to add sodium lactate, but forgot!)

Bergamot Mandarin soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Bergamot Mandarin soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Observations:
1. The soap took awhile to trace, but once it did, it set fast! At first I thought maybe it was the fragrance that I had never used before, but then I tried a similar recipe with essential oils that I knew wouldn’t speed trace and the same thing happened again. I think I just overblended – both times.
2. The texture of the soap batter was a little weird, for lack of a better word. It was almost as if it was coated in oil. I don’t know how else to describe it. By the time I was getting the colors mixed and poured into the mold, the soap was setting up pretty quickly and I was spooning most of it – especially on top. The batter would just slide right off the spoon. Like I said, a bit WEIRD.
3. After six days, the lather is amazingly dense and creamy:

Bergamot Mandarin - 6 day lather test

Bergamot Mandarin – 6 day lather test

Soap Qualities:

Hardness: 47 (recommended range 29-54)
Cleansing: 19 (range 12-22)
Conditioning: 49 (range 44-69)
Bubbly: 24 (range 14-46)
Creamy: 32 (range 16-48)
Iodine: 52 (range 41-70) – lower = harder bar
INS: 156 (range 136-165) – higher = harder bar

So how does it compare to Formal Affair (recipe #1)?
According to SoapCalc, the tallow recipe should be a harder bar. But I used sodium lactate in Formal Affair that won’t reflect the hardness in SoapCalc. The lather in Formal Affair is getting more dense and creamy as time passes. Here is an updated lather test, showing the improvement:

Formal Affair - lather test comparison

Formal Affair – lather test comparison

I still have more work to do! I’m open to suggestions, and I will keep you posted on my results.