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:

Winners of the Collaborator Challenge Announced!

The January challenge was completely different from any other challenge we have ever done before! It was inspired by the experiences that Kenna of Modern Soapmaking and I have had making soap together. Each member had to find a friend or family member who doesn’t typically make soap with them to be their collaborator and create any cold process design they wanted, showing proof of their collaboration with photos or a video. The stories and soaps that came out of this challenge have been very inspiring!! I sent out a survey as well to get feedback from members and overwhelmingly the best part of the challenge was being able to share their craft with a friend or family member, and many also mentioned feeling inspired and enjoying the process of bouncing ideas off each other. The hardest part was making the time to get together and for the member to be able to back off and allow their collaborator to do some of the work!

Kenna and I co-sponsored this challenge, offering gift certificates to Modern Soapmaking for the winning members, and Amazon gift cards for their collaborators. Kenna also picked three entries for her Sponsor’s Choice prizes which include a printout of her Honey & Beeswax soap tutorial and two bars of soap made with the tutorial so that the winners can make another soap together if they wish! Thank you, Kenna, for the idea for this fun challenge and for sponsoring it with me!!

Now for the winners…it’s been awhile since this has happened, but we actually had a TIE for FIRST PLACE!! Both of the winners are well-deserved, as their soaps are incredible!! Congratulations goes to Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio and her friend Rebecca (Beck) and to Debi Olsen of Me Do It Meself and her daughter Hayleigh!!

Lisa and Beck spent several hours on a hot day in Australia making their soap, including a trip to the local river beach to cool off! Lisa says: “Beck chose the design – an EIGHT layer diagonal rainbow soap inspired by Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon – and the essential oil blend of rose geranium, tenfold orange, frankincense, cedar and clove. We knew the essential oils would set up fast owing to the clove and rose geranium, plus it was HOT here in Sydney Australia that day…this was heaps of fun.”

Dark Side of the Moon soap by Lisa and Beck

Lisa wins a $50 gift certificate from Modern Soapmaking and Beck wins a $50 Amazon gift card – woo hoo!! Click on the photo to see Lisa’s Facebook album to read more about how their soap was made.

Debi and Hayleigh’s soap is an impressive bowl of Fruit Loops cereal – all made with cold process soap! Debi says, “We both could not be more pleased with the outcome of our final soap! I think what thrilled me the most is this was a complete and total collaboration. I did most of the set-up and the technical part of the process such as mixing the colors, and setting up the oils and lye, but Haleigh did all the mixing and most of the pouring. We both contributed ideas and solutions equally and we combined efforts putting everything together. This was definitely a team effort!”

Fruit Loops & Fun soap by Debi and Haleigh

Debi and Hayleigh win the same prize package as Lisa and Beck, and you can read all the details about how they made their soap by clicking on the photo to read Debi’s blog post. Congrats, ladies!!

Our second place winners are Claire Edmunds of Saponista and her friend Anna with their beautiful Ebru soap, inspired by one of Anna’s paintings! Claire says: “I love to take part in soap challenges as it allows me to really express my creativity and at the same time enhance my soapmaking skills. I don’t get much chance to do this within my business as I have to stick to my strictly regulated cosmetically certified recipes for the soap I sell via my website…I really enjoyed working with Anna as I usually have to work on my own, it was so much fun and I would love to do it again.”

Ebru Gannet soap by Claire and Anna

Claire wins a $40 gift certificate from Modern Soapmaking and Anna wins a $35 Amazon gift card!! If you click on the photo of their soap, you can read more of Claire’s blog post and see the video of them making their work of art!

Third place goes to Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso and her husband Sergei. Sergei was very enthusiastic about participating in the challenge. He took a couple of tries to create a soap of his liking and chose to do a drop swirl design for the entry. He even wrote the blog post about how his soaps were made! Sergei says, “Before this challenge I think soap making is easy. When I saw how my wife made it. But after I tried myself I realised it can be quite hard. You need to do several things at once and fast, otherwise soap can become hard and you can’t pour it into mold. I like that I spent this time with my wife. We both work a lot so time we spent together is very valuable for us. I love my wife and see her smiling face when I get my soap from mold was great.”

Drop Swirl soap by Sergei and Tatiana

Tatiana wins a $25 gift certificate from Modern Soapmaking and Sergei wins a $25 Amazon gift card – congrats!! Yes, you can click on the photo of the soap to read more about Sergei’s first soap adventure!

Finally, we have our three Sponsor’s Choice prize winners!!! Kenna spent two hours poring over the entries, taking the time to read about each one’s experience – she said choosing just three was SO HARD. Congratulations goes to Lynlee Sky and her husband Jimmy, Melissa Berkowitz and her friend Lauren, and Alicia Davis of Pixie Soap Shop and her husband Jerome! Here are their soaps (linked to their blog posts and Instagram) and what Kenna had to say about their entries:

Two Artists Soap by Lynlee and Jimmy

Kenna says, “I love how Lynlee and Jimmy put together their skills to create a masterpiece together. Most folks know that I’m a no-nonsense soapmaker, and the amount of work that went into this… just wow!”

Sweet Pea Surprise by Melissa and Lauren

Kenna’s feedback: “Lauren & Melissa showed off the epitome of collaborating to me: learning from each other! When Amy and I soaped together for the first time, I was amazed at how different we did things even though we were both experienced soapmakers. So seeing two relatively new soapmakers (somewhat new and completely new) work together, and then enduring a fragrance seize, was awesome!”

Men’s Exfoliating Bar by Alicia and Jerome

Kenna says, “I love that Alicia talked Jerome into participating in this challenge. Sometimes, getting our family and friends involved can help them understand our interests better. High five for Alicia pulling him in, and Jerome for giving it a shot!”

Thanks to everyone who participated in this unique type of challenge!! We might have to do it again some time…

If you’d like to see the rest of the entries, read some really great stories, and see some fun videos, please check them out HERE.

Registration for the February and March challenges opens Monday, January 30. For February, we are doing CP + MP Designs. Anything you can imagine combining these two forms of soapmaking is possible with this challenge! I just love the magma style, so for the tutorial I’ve created this soap:

Passionfruit soap – Magma style by Amy Warden

This challenge will be divided between newbies and experienced soapmakers and Majestic Mountain Sage will sponsor the newbie category (those who have made soap for less than 2 years and fewer than 50 batches). Elements Bath & Body is a new sponsor and they will provide prizes for the experienced category (those who have made soap for 2 years or more or more than 50 batches). Both sponsors offer MP soap bases, so hit them up! (Click on the photo for more info about this challenge and the one in March.)

If you haven’t signed up to receive notifications about the Challenge Club, here’s the link to do so:

Winners of the Tiger Stripe Challenge!

The technique for the December Soap Challenge Club was tiger stripes – including modifications. The tiger stripe creates stripes of color down the length of a log mold that can range from quite thin to what you might think of as a “real” tiger stripe. Members could choose to leave their stripes intact or modify them once poured or use dividers to create interest – as long as the stripes were evident in the majority of the soap. As you might imagine, there are some really fascinating and unique looks!

The challenge was divided into two categories: newbies (soapmakers who have been making soap for less than 2 years and/or fewer than 50 batches) and experienced (everyone else!). We are so grateful to our sponsors for their generous prize packages! Custom Soap Stamps is an up-and-coming supplier with everything from custom soap stamps, as the name suggests, to multi-bar soap cutters and more! Alex Kelly’s specialty is working with acrylic, so everything he makes is incredibly sturdy and will last a lifetime. Thank you, Alex, for sponsoring the newbie category! Nature’s Garden is a well-established supplier for candles and bath and body products, known for their huge inventory of fragrances. Thank you, Deborah, for sponsoring the experienced category!

When I announce the results you might not be able to tell the difference between the categories – there are outstanding soaps in both! Let’s start with the newbies. They are all first time winners in the Challenge Club:

The grand prize winner is Nicole Lankenau of Suds and Scrubs 4 You in New York! Her Orange Spiced Tea Tiger soap combines all the colors and patterns of a real tiger, and you can see the unique diagonal pattern she achieved:

Orange Spiced Tea Tiger Stripe Soap by Suds and Scrubs 4 You

Nicole wins a $100 gift certificate from Custom Soap Stamps – congratulations!! Please read more about how she made this soap, including the diagonal pattern, as well as several other soaps with this technique by clicking on the soap photo.

Second place goes to Cheryl Wetzler of Saponaceous Soap in Pennsylvania. Cheryl’s innovative ombre technique with thin black lines between each color earned her soap the name Zombré:

Zombré soap by Saponaceous Soap

Custom Soap Stamps is providing a $75 gift certificate for Cheryl – yippee! Check out her Instagram post to read more about this beautiful soap by clicking on the photo.

In third place, we have Liz Greco in New Jersey!! Liz’s soap has an abundance of thin lines in gorgeous contrasting colors. The order of the colors gives the design a very fluid movement:

Carnivale soap by Liz Greco

Congratulations, Liz, on your $50 gift certificate prize! Click on the photo to read more about the ingredients Liz used for her soap.

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize has been awarded to Savie in Michigan! Her gorgeous Bengal Tiger Stripe soap has all the markings of a beautiful wood grain, and the table she chose to pose it on just reinforces that look. Alex said this about her soap: “Great colors and pattern. Presentation is really important and that also stood out to me. Well done all around!”

Bengal Tiger Stripe soap by Savie

Savie wins a $25 gift certificate – woo hoo!! Take a look at both of the soaps she made for the challenge by clicking on the photo – she made one with peacock colors that turned out fantastic as well!

In the experienced category we have more excellent tiger stripe soaps!! In fact, our grand prize winner is none other than Carolyn Newton of Siennalily Soaps in Spain! She created a simple black, grey & white double tiger stripe soap with flawless lines:

BAH Humbug soap by Siennalily Soaps

Congratulations, Carolyn, on winning a $100 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! This is Carolyn’s third time placing in the top three, and she has also been awarded two Sponsor’s Choice prizes in past challenges. Please click on the photo of her soap to read more on her blog about how the soap was made and the newly renovated room in her house that inspired her.

In second place is our resident rainbow soap queen, Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in Australia! She did not disappoint with her gorgeous stripes of rainbow colors which she somehow manipulated into a tiger moth:

Rainbow Tiger Moth soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Lisa wins a $75 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! This is her 10th time placing in the top three, which I’m pretty sure is a Challenge Club record – congratulations!! Please read more about how Lisa’s soap was made by clicking on the photo to see the post on her Facebook page.

Third place goes to one of our most supportive members who has been part of the Club for about a year and a half. She has not only given me valuable feedback about the Club, but she is always very encouraging to the other members and gives out helpful advice on our Discussion Board. Congrats goes to Sylvia (Sly) Otykpa of Soaps by Sly in Colorado for her mesmerizing Smokey Bay Leaf soap made with the tilted tiger stripe method:

Smokey Bay Leaf soap by Soaps by Sly

Nature’s Garden is providing a $50 gift certificate to Sly for her fantastic work – her first time to placing in the top 3! Click on the photo to read the details on her blog about all three soaps she created for this challenge.

The recipient of the Sponsor’s Choice award is a brand-new member, Krista Scott of Georgia Soap Creation in Georgia, of course! Her Snowman Bliss Tiger Stripe soap spoke to Deborah Ward, and as she put it, “I just LOVE snowmen, and this soap is adorable and stunning! Just perfect for the holiday season!”

Snowman Bliss Tiger Stripe Soap by Georgia Soap Creations

Congrats, Krista, on your $25 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!! Feel free to click on the photo to get a closer look at Krista’s soap on Instagram.

Ready to see the rest of the amazing tiger stripe entries? The Newbie entries are HERE, and the Experienced entries are HERE.

So, I’m sure many of you are wondering what’s in store for 2017! I have the next three months of challenges lined up for you, and the one for January is going to be completely different than anything we’ve ever done before! I’m calling it the Collaborator’s Challenge, and you’re going to need a collaborator to accomplish it. In other words, you get to make soap with a friend or family member!! I’ll have the details all laid out soon, but your collaborator must be at least 18 years old. It can be someone who has made soap before, as long as it’s someone who typically doesn’t make soap with you. The idea is to work together from start to finish. I asked my husband, Kent, to make soap for the very first time for the video tutorial and he did an excellent job! He chose the dancing funnel technique, and here is his soap in the mold:

Orange Soap by Kent Warden

Kenna from Modern Soapmaking and I will be co-sponsoring this challenge as we have been collaborating on this challenge idea since we made the wood grain soap together in October! Prizes will be divided between you and your collaborator and will include the following:
Grand prize – $50 gift certificate from MS for you/$50 gift card from Amazon for your collaborator
Second place – $40/$35
Third place – $25/25
Sponsor’s Choice – Kenna will choose three entries to receive a printout of her Honey & Beeswax soap tutorial, plus two bars of soap made with the technique so you can make another soap with your collaborator if you choose!

I will also provide a “recruitment” video to show the person you wish to join you in this challenge so they can be encouraged to participate! (If for some reason they actually need encouragement!)

In February, we will be doing CP + MP Designs. The challenge will be divided between newbies and experienced soapmakers once again and Majestic Mountain Sage will sponsor the newbie category. Elements Bath & Body is a new sponsor and they will provide prizes for the experienced category.

The challenge technique for March is Secret Swirls. This time the challenge will be divided between soaps made with all natural ingredients and those that are colored and/or scented with synthetic ingredients. Brambleberry is our sponsor for the natural category and Nurture Soap will sponsor the synthetic category.

Registration will open Monday, January 2nd for all three months or just January. If you haven’t signed up for Challenge Club notifications yet, which also includes tutorial sales, here’s the link:

Cosmic Wave Soap Winners Announcement

For the Soap Challenge Club in November, we tackled a technique called Cosmic Waves. One of the co-creators of this technique, Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso, was our guest teacher. The process is a variation of an in-the-pot swirl that creates stunning results, but it was definitely harder than it looked to get the desired outcome! Mad Oils was our fabulous sponsor, offering some really great gift certificates for our voted winners and Mad Oils aprons for their Sponsor’s Choice winners. That’s right – Joanna asked if she could choose 3!! More prizes? Of course!

And now for the announcements you’ve been waiting for….

Congratulations goes to Bann Matson of Homely Animal in Utah for winning the Grand Prize!! Her Blitzen cosmic wave soap has absolutely stunning lines and colors:

Blitzen Cosmic Wave soap by Homely Animal

Blitzen Cosmic Wave soap by Homely Animal

Bann wins a $100 gift certificate from Mad Oils – hooray!! Please click on the photo to read more about how she made it.

In a close second is Debi Olsen of Me Do It Meself in Colorado! Debi is a long time member of the Challenge Club and her obsession with creating beautiful soaps has rewarded her several times in the course of the challenges. Her Cosmic Sherbet Wave soap is no exception:

Cosmic Sherbet Wave by Me Do it Meself

Cosmic Sherbet Wave by Me Do it Meself

Debi’s prize is a $75 gift certificate from Mad Oils! Click on the photo of her soap to read ALL about her process. She provides many generous details in her blog post.

Third place was so close!! The winner by just one vote is….Laura Sidor of Lolly’s Soaps & Such in Illinois! Laura created a lovely Guardian Angel Cosmic Wave soap with a sparkling gold mica accent:

Guardian Angel  Cosmic Wave soap by Lolly's Soaps & Such

Guardian Angel Cosmic Wave soap by Lolly’s Soaps & Such

Laura wins a $50 gift certificate from Mad Oils! You can click on the photo to read more on her Facebook page.

And now for the Sponsor’s Choice prize winners!! First up is Carolyn Newton of Siennalilysoaps in Spain with her Banos Arabes Cosmic Wave soap. Joanna from Mad Oils says, “The color choices and execution of the technique looks like you have been doing this for years!”

Banos Arabes Cosmic Wave soap by siennalilysoaps

Banos Arabes Cosmic Wave soap by siennalilysoaps

The next winner is Joanna Humieniuk of Iriy Soapworks in Illinois with her Energy soap. Joanna says, “We aren’t sure how you managed to get that many colors cram-packed into this technique without it all going grey or brown. Well done!!”

Energy soap by Iriy Soapworks

Energy soap by Iriy Soapworks

The third and final winner is Martha Brogdon in Texas with her Moonlight Madness Cosmic Wave soap. Joanna says, “This one reminded us of the texture of a vinyl album when the light gets captured on the vinyl while spinning. Well executed technique with your own kind of curvaceous flair. Keep up your rich talent!”

Moonlight Madness Cosmic Wave soap by Martha Brogdon

Moonlight Madness Cosmic Wave soap by Martha Brogdon

All three winners will receive a Mad Oils apron as their prize!! (These aprons are NOT for sale, but you can get one for yourself with an order of $250 or more while supplies last!) You can also click on the photos of each of these soaps for more information about the inspiration behind each one and how they were made.

The rest of the entries are wonderful as well! I know you want to see them, so please go HERE to check them out!

Our next challenge in December will be all about Tiger Stripes. We will be dividing the challenge between newbies (making soap for less than 2 years or fewer than 50 batches) and experienced (everyone else!) soapmakers. Custom Soap Stamps is the sponsor for the newbie category and Nature’s Garden will sponsor the experienced category.

So far I’ve made two soaps for the video tutorial:

Peppermint Stripe soap by Amy Warden

Peppermint Stripe soap by Amy Warden

Cherry Berry Stripe soap by Amy Warden

Cherry Berry Stripe soap by Amy Warden

You can do modifications of the Tiger Stripe method like the ones shown above, or go with the original method. For more information, visit the Current Challenge page. Registration opens Monday, November 28!! If you haven’t signed up for notifications about the Challenge Club yet, you can do that here:

notify-me

Soap Challenge Club Wood Grain Winners

The challenge for October was to create soaps that look like real wood grain. Members were given a variety of techniques to choose from and given pretty free reign to do what they wished to achieve the desired outcome as long as the soap was made with the cold process method and featured a wood grain technique. The entries were divided into two categories: soaps made with all natural ingredients and those that had synthetic colors and/or fragrance added. Huge thanks to our sponsors!! Modern Soapmaking was a new sponsor this month for the natural category, which came at the perfect time as Kenna has been coming out with new resources for soapmakers using essential oils, including her newly released book, Smellgoods: How to Use & Blend Essential Oils in Handmade Soap & Skincare available for pre-order HERE. Long-time Challenge Club supporter Bramble Berry sponsored the synthetic category with a combination of gift certificates and various sizes of their wood molds. Clever, right?

There were significantly more entries in the synthetic category, and I will start with those winners first – mostly because ALL of them are first-time winners in the Challenge Club!!

Taking home GRAND PRIZE is Nancy Jameson of Artwork Soaps in Texas, and indeed Nancy’s soap is a work of art! She created a beautiful tulipwood soap for the challenge, scented with a Cedarwood and Patchouli fragrance. Take a look:

Tulipwood Soap by Artwork Soaps

Tulipwood Soap by Artwork Soaps

Nancy has been participating in the challenges for quite a while, so it’s very exciting that she is finally taking home a prize – congratulations!! Nancy wins a $75 gift certificate, plus a 9-bar wood mold with silicone liner from Bramble Berry! Be sure to click on the photo to read more about Nancy’s process on her blog.

In second place is Sarah Riedel in Sweden!! Sarah is fairly new to the Challenge Club, but has already shown herself to be a contender! Her soap, titled “Forest Walk” might have you fooled into thinking it is real wood if you didn’t know it was soap:

Forest Walk soap by Sarah Riedel

Forest Walk soap by Sarah Riedel

Since Sarah lives outside the U.S. she wins a gift certificate equivalent to a 5-lb wood mold with silicone liner + $50 from Bramble Berry. What a great prize!! Click on her photo read more about the soap on her Instagram post.

Third place goes to Kate Munroe in Rhode Island – a first-time member of the Challenge Club! Her soap looks like blocks of wood straight from a tree – bark and all! You’ll want to click on the photo to read more about how she did it:

Into the Woods soap by Kate Munroe

Into the Woods soap by Kate Munroe

Congratulations to Kate on winning a $25 gift certificate, plus a 2-lb wood mold with silicone liner from Bramble Berry! Fantastic work!

The Sponsor’s Choice winner from Bramble Berry is Julie Miller in Pennsylvania, another first-time Challenge Club member, for her Autumn Woods soap! Amber Strawn speaks for her team at Bramble Berry when she says, “We love the unique and creative design. The ‘knots’ in the wood add interest and texture, and the colors are vibrant and perfect for fall!”

Into the Woods soap by Julie Miller

Into the Woods soap by Julie Miller

You’ll have to be a member of the Soap Makers Plus Facebook group to see her post, which I think MOST soapmakers are. Julie wins a $25 gift certificate from Bramble Berry – yippee!!

Now, on to the winners in the all-natural category, who in contrast with the synthetic category have all placed in the Challenge Club at least once previously! The grand prize winner is none other than Bann Matson of Homely Animal in Utah, who took 3rd place last month in the experienced category of the piping challenge! Bann’s soap is made to look like weathered, reclaimed wood. It is an unscented 100% olive oil soap, colored with activated charcoal and raw cocoa:

Reclaimed Wood soap by Homely Animal

Reclaimed Wood soap by Homely Animal

Congratulations to Bann for winning a $100 gift certificate from Modern Soapmaking!! You can click on the photo of her soap to see her Instagram post.

Second place goes to another member of the Challenge Club who has been making her mark lately: Helene Glemet of Chez Helene in Canada! This is her fourth time placing in the top 3. This time her prize-winning soap is called Firewood, aptly named for its real log-like appearance, down to the moss growing on the bark:

Firewood soap by Chez Helene

Firewood soap by Chez Helene

The soap has been scented with pine needle essential oil, and the colors were all achieved with varying shades of cocoa powder. Spinach powder and paprika were used to create the moss and lichen effect. Be sure to click on her photo to read all about her process on her Facebook page. Helene wins a $75 gift certificate from Modern Soapmaking – congrats!

Our third place winner is also a seasoned Challenge Club member who has created many beautiful soaps, including her first place winning rimmed soap in March. Congratulations goes to Anastasia Krasilnikova in the Czech Republic for her Thuja Wood soap with its rich, wood grain texture, colored with 99% Lindt chocolate and scented with thuja and sweet orange essential oils! (Thuja is a genus of coniferous trees in the cypress family, in case you were wondering like I was.)

Thuja Wood soap by Anastasia Krasilnikova

Thuja Wood soap by Anastasia Krasilnikova

She wins a $50 gift certificate from Modern Soapmaking – fantastic!! Click on the photo to read more about Anastasia’s soap in her blog post.

Finally, Kenna of Modern Soapmaking has chosen Belinda Williams of Love Your Suds in Canada as her Sponsor’s Choice prize winner for her Beekeeper soap, Belinda’s second time as a Challenge Club prize winner! Kenna says, “I loved how the wood grain design was the foundation for combining textures on either side of the soap, and bringing together complementary facets of nature into harmony. So creative!” Her inspiration came from Tree Stump Beekeeping, as you can see from the design:

Beekeeper soap by Love Your Suds

Beekeeper soap by Love Your Suds

Belinda wins a $25 gift certificate from Modern Soapmaking – congratulations!! To learn more about her process, click on the photo to read her blog post.

To see ALL of the entries from the Wood Grain challenge, please visit THIS PAGE.

We will be doing another fun technique for the November Challenge, with guest teacher Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso. It is the technique she created called “Cosmic Wave” and this is the soap she made for the video tutorial that you won’t want to miss:

Cosmic Wave soap by Creative Soap by Steso

Cosmic Wave soap by Creative Soap by Steso

This will be one big challenge, with Mad Oils as our sponsor. Registration will open Monday, October 24, with the opportunity to register for December’s challenge also at a discounted rate. Click the photo above for more info about these challenges, and sign up to be notified when registration opens below:

notify-me

Piped Soap Challenge Winners Announcement!

Did you know that any piping technique you’ve seen with buttercream can be created with cold process soap? Members of the Soap Challenge Club took on some pretty amazing projects this month as they piped their hearts out!! The challenge was divided between newbies and experienced soapmakers. Those with less than 2 years experience and/or fewer than 50 batches fit the newbie category, and everyone else competed in the experienced category. We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors, Bath Alchemy Lab and Nurture Soap for their generous prizes for this challenge!!

Let’s start with the winners for the experienced category. Congratulations goes to Yvonne Foust of The Snoblove Bar in Tennessee for her grand prize winning entry, Pink Cashmere Bar:

Pink Cashmere Bar by The Snoblove Bar

Pink Cashmere Bar by The Snoblove Bar

Everything about this soap says “decadent”!! Yvonne is definitely an up-and-coming soap artist you’ll want to follow. She has been participating in the Soap Challenge Club for a few years now, and her artistry continues to shine. This is her first time placing, let alone winning the grand prize, and I’m sure she would say it’s been well worth it! Yvonne has won 10 new fragrances PLUS the Royalty Soaps piping set from Nurture Soap!! Be sure to click on the photo to see Yvonne’s video of how she made this gorgeous creation.

Second place in the experienced category goes to Bann Matson of Homely Animal in Utah. She created this amazing Spring Bouquet of flowers:

Spring Bouquet by Homely Animal

Spring Bouquet by Homely Animal

The two-toned hydrangea really shines in this eclectic collection of beautiful flowers! This is Bann’s first time placing in the Challenge Club. She wins 6 new fragrances PLUS the Royalty Soaps piping set from Nurture Soap! Clicking on the photo will take you to Bann’s Instagram post about her soap.

Although competition in third place was rather tight, Carolyn Newton of Siennalily Soaps in Spain pulled it off! Carolyn created a gorgeous soap cake covered with white and turquoise roses:

Cascading Rose Cake by Siennalily Soaps

Cascading Rose Cake by Siennalily Soaps

All of the different flower and leaf shapes really show off Carolyn’s skills! She is no stranger to the Challenge Club, as this is the 4th time she has placed. Yet she has come a long way from her Sponsor’s Choice prize a year ago this month, and even graduated from a first place finish in the newbie category this past January to her third place finish among the experienced soapmakers. Carolyn wins a 4-lb slab mold, plus a $10 gift certificate from Nurture Soap! Click on the photo to read Carolyn’s blog post about how she created her soap cake.

The Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Stephanie Vanderwiele of Persephone Soaps in Florida for her Floral Bouquet soap cake slices! Carrie Thornsbury of Nurture Soap says, “I chose this because it had many details and different piping techniques that were really well executed. The piping is also smooth and well done. I made this choice after looking at the Facebook albums, blog posts etc. and looking at the details of each entry. I really like Floral Bouquet!”

Floral Bouquet soap by Persephone Soaps

Floral Bouquet soap by Persephone Soaps

Congratulations, Stephanie, on winning the new 25 cube soap mold from Nurture Soap! Be sure to click on the photo to see more great images of this soap in Stephanie’s Facebook album.

And now for the winners in the newbie category!! Erica Pence of Bath Alchemy Lab was our sponsor for the newbie category and after seeing the entries she said, “I must say, everyone did a magnificent job on the piping challenge. In fact, they would have given the experienced soapmakers a run for the money.” I completely agree!

Congratulations goes to Helene Glemet of ChezHelene in Quebec for her Grand Prize win in the newbie category!! Helene created a collection of Soapy Succulents that look incredibly real:

Soapy Succulents by ChezHelene

Soapy Succulents by ChezHelene

Helene is another up-and-coming soap artist who has placed in three of the last four challenges! Her artistry was first noticed in the Sculpted Layers challenge where her Howling Wolf soap took first place. She wins a $100 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab! Click on the photo to see Helene’s Facebook post about her soap.

Placing second in the newbie category is Belinda Williams of Love Your Suds in British Columbia! (Way to go, Canadians!) Belinda’s soap is a lovely combination of succulents and roses:

Succulent Rose by Love Your Suds

Succulent Rose by Love Your Suds

You can see how seamlessly all of the different elements fit together in this fabulous slab of piped soap! Congrats, Belinda, on winning a $75 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab! Be sure to click on the photo to read about how the soap was made on Belinda’s blog.

In third place in the newbie category is Jen Heriot of Penny and Olive in Wisconsin with this amazing Fall Florals and Foliage soap:

Fall Florals and Foliage soap by Penny and Olive

Fall Florals and Foliage soap by Penny and Olive

This was Jen’s first time entering a soap in the challenge, and I’m so glad she did! All of her piped elements look like she’s been doing this for years and years when in fact, she just learned to pipe soap for this challenge! Pretty incredible, right? Jen wins a $50 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab! Clicking on the photo will take you to the Penny and Olive Facebook album with more photos of this amazing soap.

Erica Pence of Bath Alchemy Lab has chosen Carol Moyes of Milk & Silk in Scotland as the winner of her Sponsor’s Choice prize! Erica says,”It is with great difficulty that I am choosing Garden of Enchantment for the Sponsor’s Choice. While I struggled to choose, I decided on this soap because it featured a variety of flowers and leaves using different tips. I am aware of the challenges that one faces to juggle colors, tips, and time limits of soapmaking and felt that this soap displayed excellent skill.”

Garden of Enchantment soap by Milk & Silk

Garden of Enchantment soap by Milk & Silk

Carol has been a member of the Challenge Club for six months now, but has only felt her soap worthy of entry twice. She says she has found her soaping happy place with piping, and her soap is evidence of that! Congrats, Carol, on winning a $25 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab!

In addition, after seeing all the lovely entries, Erica says, “Since everyone put in a lot of time, effort, and creativity, I have decided to give all newbie participants that did NOT win a prize a 10% off coupon code for any one class or item on our site. I rarely offer coupons, so this may be an offer that some want to jump on.” Which is why I always say – go ahead and enter even if you aren’t entirely confident in your work!!

If you are ready to see the rest of the entries in both the newbie and experienced categories, you can find them all HERE. So many fantastic soaps!!

The next three months of challenges are going to be great fun! Registration will open on Monday for one week, and you’ll be able to register for all three at a discount, or just October’s challenge only.

For October, we will be making wood grain soap! There will be several methods to choose from, but here is the soap I made for the video tutorial:

Wood grain soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Wood grain soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

The challenge will be divided between soaps made with all natural ingredients and those made with synthetic colors and/or fragrance. Modern Soapmaking is sponsoring the natural category, and Brambleberry is sponsoring the synthetic category with some awesome prizes!

In November, Tatsiana Serko will be our guest teacher once again as we learn the technique she calls “Cosmic Wave”.

Cosmic Wave soap by Tatsiana Serko

Cosmic Wave soap by Tatsiana Serko

This will be one big challenge, with Mad Oils as our sponsor!

December’s challenge is all about the tiger stripe. I will offer several different modification ideas, or you can go with the original method.

Tiger Stripe soap by Amy Warden from the Soap Challenge Club 2013

Tiger Stripe soap by Amy Warden from the Soap Challenge Club 2013

This challenge will be divided between newbie and experienced, with Custom Soap Stamps as our sponsor for the newbie category and Nature’s Garden sponsoring the experienced category.

If you’d like to receive a notification when registration opens, do that here:

notify-me

I look forward to seeing you inside the Club!

Dancing Funnel Challenge Winners!

For the August Challenge, I asked Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso to be our guest teacher again to show us how to make the Dancing Funnel technique. She and Jelena of SoapTechniques put together their version of a funnel pour that looks like drops of soaps with perfect little outlines. The outcome is just stunning! We also divided the challenge this month between the soaps that were made with all natural colors and scents and those made with synthetic ingredients. Majestic Moutain Sage is our sponsor for the all natural category and Rustic Escentuals is our sponsor for the synthetic category. Between the two categories, we had exactly 100 entries!

My deepest gratitude goes to Tatsiana, who not only taught the tutorial, but also made herself available to answer questions on our Discussion Board and one of our Virtual Meet & Greet sessions! Huge thanks also goes to our lovely sponsors who make the challenges incredibly rewarding!!

Let’s start with the winners in the all natural category. Grand prize goes to Holly Shelton of Kapia Mera Soap Co in Tennessee, for her outstanding Charcoal Mint soap:

Charcoal Mint Dancing Funnel soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

Charcoal Mint Dancing Funnel soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

Holly has always made outstanding soaps with all natural colors and scents, so it may not come as a surprise that she has come out on top with this challenge! She has won a $100 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – congratulations!! Be sure to click on the photo to see Holly’s blog post on how she made her soap.

Second place in the all natural category goes to a brand-new member: Aruna of Suffuse Super-Natural Soaps in Bangalore, India! Aruna’s Dancing Nemo soap demonstrates how vibrant natural colorants truly can be:

Dancing Nemo by Aruna

Dancing Nemo by Aruna

Aruna wins a $75 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage! Congratulations!! Click on the photo of her soap to read more about how she made it, as well as two other soaps with the dancing funnel technique.

In third place, Helene Glemet of Chez Helene in Quebec, Canada created a lovely Bubbly Blues soap, colored with indigo and alkanet:

Bubbly Blues soap by Chez Helene

Bubbly Blues soap by Chez Helene

Helene is the winner of a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – woo hoo!!! Read more about her soap on her Facebook page by clicking on the photo.

The Sponsor’s Choice winner chosen by Majestic Mountain Sage is Renee Chiang in California!! Andee Howard of Majestic Mountain Sage says, “Showers are part of my evening unwinding routine and Renee’s soap reached out to me. This soap makes me feel relaxed just looking at the calm colors and smooth flow of the design!”

Spirulina and Moringa Dancing Circles by Renee Chiang

Spirulina and Moringa Dancing Circles by Renee Chiang

Renee wins a $25 gift certificate from The Sage – yippee!! Check out her blog post to see the process of how she made it!

For the synthetic category, the grand prize winner is none other than Claudia Carpenter of Om Nom Soap blog in California!! Claudia’s soap is unique in that the size of her drops are smaller than everyone else’s, thus her Dancing Bubbles soap is aptly named:

Dancing Bubbles by Claudia Carpenter

Dancing Bubbles by Claudia Carpenter

Rustic Escentuals is giving Claudia a $100 gift certificate to their store, plus 6 fragrance samples and 6 mica samples! Congratulations!! Click on the photo to read Claudia’s blog post about how she made her soap – and almost didn’t enter the challenge!

Second place goes to Michelle Rogerson of My Handmade Heartland in Iowa for her Native American inspired bold & stunning Dreamcatcher soap:

Dreamcatcher soap by My Handmade Heartland

Dreamcatcher soap by My Handmade Heartland

Congratulations to Michelle on your first challenge club win!! Michelle receives a $75 gift certificate, plus 6 fragrance & mica samples from Rustic Escentuals. Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to read more about her inspiration and how she created her soap on her Facebook page.

For third place, we have a TIE. Congratulations to Toni Watt of White Milk Soap and Candles in Australia, and Teri Endsley in Indiana for their gorgeous dancing funnel soaps! Toni created this amazing white and purple soap with orange outlines:

Good Morning Sunshine soap by White Milk Soap and Candles

Good Morning Sunshine soap by White Milk Soap and Candles

Teri’s magnificent soap looks like translucent river rocks:

Autumn Fig Harvest Dancing Funnel soap by Teri Endsley

Autumn Fig Harvest Dancing Funnel soap by Teri Endsley

Toni & Teri both receive $50 gift certificates, plus 6 fragrance & mica samples from Rustic Escentuals. Click on their photos to see more about their soaps and to watch Toni’s video!

Amy Coker of Rustic Escentuals has chosen Argelia of Firefly Soaps & Such in Texas as their Sponsor’s Choice winner! Amy says, “I adore this soap for a number of reasons! The name matches perfectly with the colors. Color choices were perfect and they enhance each other very well. I also find her take on the technique visually appealing with having different sized circles without the soap looking inconsistent and messy. Well done on a delightful, gorgeous soap!”

Blue Sky Green Fields soap by Firefly Soaps & Such

Blue Sky Green Fields soap by Firefly Soaps & Such

Argelia wins a $25 gift certificate, plus 6 fragrance & mica samples! Congratulations!!

Because I know you are dying to see the rest of the entries…they are located HERE.

The way the calendar falls this time, we actually have an extra week off before registration opens for the September Challenge. Thanks to those who have contributed ideas for the Piping Challenge!! I’ve finally made my first practice batch with the Russian piping tips, and here is the result:

Cupcake Soaps Piped with Russian Tips

Cupcake Soaps Piped with Russian Tips

This challenge will NOT be limited to the Russian tips or cupcakes only, and it will be divided between newbies (have been making soap for less than two years and/or less than 50 batches) and experienced soapmakers. Bath Alchemy Lab is sponsoring the newbie category, and Nurture Soap is sponsoring the experienced category. Registration will open Monday, August 29th. You can sign up for a notification for registration, as well as the notification when the dancing funnel tutorial is available here:

notify-me

Winners Announcement: Pipe Divider Swirl Challenge!

The pipe divider swirl is a technique created by Tania from Soapish. She received inspiration from Clara Lindberg and Pasito a Pasito, and developed her own idea to use PVC pipe couplings to create dividers in a slab mold, holding them in place with melted beeswax (and later cocoa butter). This was such a fun technique, and definitely not as complicated as some other techniques we’ve done recently, but has really stunning results!

Huge thanks goes to our sponsor this month, Nature’s Garden! They have been so supportive of the Challenge Club since the beginning and were very generous with their prizes once again.

I’m very excited to announce to you that our grand prize winner is Lina Neufeld of Bathe in Grace from British Columbia, Canada! Lina has been doing challenges for less than a year and this is the first time she has placed. Her work is marked by soft colors and lines, and her winning soap easily fits those categories with stunning yellow and lavender swirls:

Acai & Silk Soap by Bathe in Grace

Acai & Silk Soap by Bathe in Grace

Lina wins a $100 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Congratulations!!

In second place is Lisa Rapp from Florida who joined us for the very first time last month! Lisa’s soap has lovely bright red “tulips” outlined in copper with black and white swirls:

Brazen Hussy Tulips by Lisa Rapp

Brazen Hussy Tulips by Lisa Rapp

Congratulations to Lisa! She wins a $75 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Please click on the photo to read about Lisa’s process and the other soap she made with this technique.

Third place goes to the very talented Vivian Sullivan of Selah Artisan Soaps in North Carolina! Vivian took second place in the January Challenge this year, and now she’s back as a top three finalist with her totally gorgeous Poinsettia soap made with the pipe divider swirl:

Poinsettia Soap by Selah Artisan Soaps

Poinsettia Soap by Selah Artisan Soaps

Vivian wins a $50 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Way to go!

The Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Margo Long of Bearprint Soaps in Oregon. Margo is a long-time member of the Challenge Club and has placed twice before. Her soap this month is a lovely two-toned “raspberry” pink with delicate green and white swirls. Deborah Ward, owner of Nature’s Garden, was drawn to the soft color palette and beautiful swirls. She says, “I just think it is pretty!” It definitely is!

A Touch of Raspberry Soap by Bearprint Soaps

A Touch of Raspberry Soap by Bearprint Soaps

Congratulations to Margo who wins a $25 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Be sure to click on the photo to see more pics of her process in her Facebook album.

Check out the rest of the entries HERE. They are fabulous!!

Registration opens this TUESDAY, July 26 for the August Challenge. We will be doing the Dancing Funnel technique, taught by Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soaps by Steso. I am so grateful that she is willing to share her knowledge with us!! The challenge will be divided between soaps made with all natural ingredients, and those made with synthetic colors and/or scents. Here’s the all-natural soap that Tatsiana made with natural ingredients from one of our sponsors, Majestic Mountain Sage, for her video tutorial:

Dancing Funnel by Tatsiana Serko

Dancing Funnel by Tatsiana Serko

I just finished making my soap with synthetic ingredients from our other sponsor: Rustic Escentuals.

Dancing Funnel (in the mold) by Great Cakes Soapworks

Dancing Funnel (in the mold) by Great Cakes Soapworks

If you get really ambitious, you can even make a soap with more than two colors:

Multi-color Dancing Funnel soap by Tatsiana Serko

Multi-color Dancing Funnel soap by Tatsiana Serko

To find out exactly when registration opens, sign up for notifications about the Challenge Club here:

notify-me

Apple Berry Faux Tall & Skinny Soap Tutorial

I’m kicking off Soap Queen’s #soaptherainbow series by turning my soap on its side – literally! This Apple Berry soap is actually created in a regular 5 lb. log mold with sliding bottom* and a multi-pour sectioning tool – NOT a tall & skinny mold! I’m a total sucker for fruity fragrances, so I came up with a combination of Apple Sage, one of Brambleberry’s newest fragrances and Holiday Candy, a classic from the Brambleberry line-up with sweet notes of berries and sugar, rounded out by a touch of rose and carnation. Both work really well in cold-process soap – no acceleration or discoloration that I found.

Apple Berry soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Apple Berry soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

What You’ll Need:

58 oz. of oils (I used 33% tallow, 33% olive, 30% coconut, and 4% castor)
8.35 oz. lye (recalculate this amount if you change any of the oils!)
20 oz. water
1 ½ tsp. merlot mica
½ tsp. electric bubble gum colorant
¼ tsp. raspberry mica
1 ¼ tsp. gold sparkle mica
extra olive oil to mix with colorants
1.1 oz. Holiday Candy fragrance
1.1 oz. Apple Sage fragrance
5 lb. log mold with sliding bottom (liner optional)
Multi-Pour sectioning tool
A small paint brush
Whisk
Large kitchen knife & a ruler
optional: 2.5 oz. of soap scraps

(If you’ve never made cold process soap before, be sure to read up on the process. SoapQueenTV has some great information.)

Prepping colors and fragrance: In a small cup, combine the merlot mica, electric bubble gum, and raspberry micas with about a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix carefully and well. A mini mixer is a great tool to work out any clumps! In a separate cup, combine the gold sparkle mica with ½ T. of olive oil. Combine the Holiday Candy and Apple Sage fragrance oils in a glass container.

Prepping the mold: In order to make the soap taller, I ditched the silicone liner in favor of a paper one. (Here’s my video on how to line a log mold with freezer paper.)

Mold lined with freezer paper

Mold lined with freezer paper

Next, you’ll want to prep your sectioning tool by painting the gold mica and oil on each side of the silicone dividers. I learned this vertical mica line technique from Teressa Mahoney. After playing with several different ratios of mica to oil, I discovered that it was best to have the solution as thick as possible without being clumpy, and to apply it to the silicone dividers thinly on both sides. Use ALL of the mica & oil. Leave a ¼” border without any mica on both sides of the dividers as you spread it with the brush. You don’t want the mica to run off too much when you put the dividers in the mold (mine did a little).

Painting gold mica on the dividers

Painting gold mica on the dividers

Once you paint both sides of a divider, carefully set it in one of the grooves on an end piece. The end piece will actually hold them up pretty well without any extra support! Once you have all three finished, slide the other end piece onto the dividers and carefully set everything in the mold, making sure to keep pressure on the outside of the end pieces so none of the dividers fall out as you are placing them in the mold!

View of all dividers

View of all dividers

(Optional) Embed prep: If you have some small soap scraps you’d like to use to create some interest, chop them into tiny pieces with a kitchen knife. I used 2.5 oz. of scraps from my practice batches with this technique.

Now we can begin!

Step 1: Prep lye solution.
Use a plastic or stainless steel (never glass or pyrex!) container with a pour spout to weigh out the water portion. Slowly and carefully add the lye to the water and gently stir until the lye has fully dissolved and the liquid is clear. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to cool.

Step 2: Prep oils and begin!
Measure out the tallow and coconut oil into a large plastic container (I like to use gallon size ice cream buckets!) and melt in the microwave for two minutes, then stir until all has melted. Add the olive oil and castor oil. Once the lye water and the oils have cooled to 85-90 degrees, add the lye water to the oils and stick blend until emulsified or a very thin trace.

Adding lye solution to oils

Adding lye solution to oils

Step 3: Divide the soap into four parts.
Without the silicone liner, not all of the sections will be equal. I poured off just over 2 ½ cups of soap into three containers and what was left in my pot was enough when I added the embeds to it. If you aren’t using embeds, pour off exactly 2 ½ cups of soap in 2 containers (this will fill the middle two sections), then split the remaining soap into two other containers.

Dividing the soap

Dividing the soap

Step 4: Mix color and fragrance into each container.
For the ombre effect, pour HALF of the pre-mixed merlot blend into one part for the darkest section. Then pour a little over half of what is left into the next part, and a little over half again into the next, and what is left (which won’t be much!) into the last part and whisk each part to incorporate. Then, divide the fragrance equally into each color – just eyeball it – and whisk again.

Adding fragrance

Adding fragrance

Step 5: If you’re adding embeds, pour them into the lightest portion of soap and stir well with a spoon.

Adding embeds

Adding embeds

Step 6: Pouring!
Make sure all the colors are just starting to set up before you pour. I noticed that the lightest color set up first because it had the least amount of extra oil from the mica blend, so I started with that one first. Without the silicone liner, there’s some wiggle room for the sectioning tool, so I pushed it all the way to one side of the mold so that I had an extra large section for the soap with the embeds which made it easier to pour.

First pour

First pour

Make sure to pour just a little bit of each color into each section to prevent the soap from flowing under the dividers too much, THEN go back and fill each section. You may need to tap the mold down to release air bubbles as you go. (There will be some leftover soap batter after the mold is full.)

Partial pour of all the colors

Partial pour of all the colors

Step 7: Removing the dividers.
Once you have all of the sections filled up level with the top of the mold, it’s time to pull the dividers out. Pull each one straight out, one at a time. Don’t scrape the dividers as you pull them out of the mold. It will just mess up your mica line. Leave the end pieces because they help maintain the fill level.

Pulling out the dividers

Pulling out the dividers

Step 8: Cover and let it set up for 24 hours.
You can put the soap in a warm oven to force it to gel and create more vibrant colors. I set mine outside on my grill because it was so hot!!

Step 9: Cutting and trimming the soap.
First step is to take it out of the mold and cut off the end pieces from the sectioning tool with a large kitchen knife.

Cutting off the end pieces of the sectioning tool

Cutting off the end pieces of the sectioning tool

Once the soap has been freed, you can slice the log into bars. I’m a precision soapmaker and I like all my bars to end up close to the same size (3.5” x 2” x 1.25”), so after slicing the log with my wire cutter, I used a ruler to mark 2 1/8” across each bar and trimmed them off with a kitchen knife. This gives me room to plane off the other side of the bar where my mica lines ran a bit. If you don’t have a soap planer, you can use the kitchen knife or a vegetable peeler to trim it off if you like.

Trimming up the soap

Trimming up the soap

I ended up with twelve bars weighing 5.3-5.5 ounces before cure, plus a few end pieces and one thin bar. Cure for 4-6 weeks to allow the soap to fully harden and become mild.

Finished bars

Finished bars

More resources to help you achieve red soap:
Perfect Red in Cold Process Soap
4th of July Soap

*all links to Brambleberry products are affiliate links

Check Out the Winners of the Sculpted Layers Challenge!

The technique for the June Challenge Club is called Sculpted Layers. It was created by Claudia Carpenter of Om Nom Soap blog, one of our very own members! She used the technique to create her grand prize winning masterpiece for the Winter Wonderland challenge in February, and was gracious to teach it to us this month and share all her tips and tricks. The possibilities are truly endless with this technique, and the creativity that showed up in the entries is astounding! All of our top three winners took turns in first place throughout the course of the voting (I was the only one who could see this), and many others displayed beautiful design and skill as well.

Huge thanks to our sponsor, Alex Kelly of Custom Soap Stamps – who does so much more than just stamps! Please check out his etsy store to see all he has to offer, from tools to displays to molds – all of it made with high quality durable acrylic or silicone. In addition to the following prize winners, Alex also provided a 10% off coupon code to everyone who submitted an entry this month! Thanks so much, Alex!

Our grand prize winner, by just ONE vote is Helene Glemet of Chez Helene from Quebec, Canada! Helene just joined the Challenge Club last month, and has shown herself to be an excellent designer and soapmaker. Her soap, “Howling Wolf” is a simple, yet stunning design:

Howling Wolf by Chez Helene

Howling Wolf by Chez Helene

Helene wins a $150 gift certificate from Custom Soap Stamps – congratulations!! Click on the photo to see how she made her soap!

Second place goes to Debi Olsen in Fort Collins, Colorado! Debi is a master at complex, detailed soap design. She also utilized the allowance for small non-soap embellishments to decoupage the vines and cat tails on her soap to make it look surprisingly similar to her inspiration photo, and thus gave us her “Blue Moon” soap:

Blue Moon soap by Debi Olsen

Blue Moon soap by Debi Olsen

Her soap has won a $75 gift certificate from Custom Soap Stamps – yay, Debi! If you click on the photo, you can read her extensive blog post on how she made this soap.

In third place we have Vera Lede from Kazakhstan. Vera also has an eye for detail and bold, beautiful design in her soapmaking. She really pushed the envelope with a total of 12 sculpted layers in her “Morning in a Mountain Valley” soap!

Morning in a Mountain Valley by Vera Lede

Morning in a Mountain Valley by Vera Lede

Congratulations to Vera for earning a $50 gift certificate from Custom Soap Stamps! Click on the photo to read her blog post and see photos of her process, as well as another soap she made with this technique.

Our Sponsor’s Choice winner is Marie Zimmerly in Winterville, North Carolina! Marie is fairly new to the Club, and this her first time winning a prize. This is what Alex says about her “Almost Argyle” soap: “I really liked the crisp pattern separation and the fade from dark to light. The surface of the bars are nice and shiny, which adds that clean look (no pun intended). The dark edges leading in to the first pattern also helps define the contrast in colors. Lastly, it reminds me of the fancy argyle socks that I wore back in my corporate America days. Something like that allows the consumer to relate to the design of the bar.”

Almost Argyle soap by Marie Zimmerly

Almost Argyle soap by Marie Zimmerly

Marie’s prize is a custom soap stamp from Alex – congratulations! Clicking on the photo of her soap will take you to her blog post with lots of great details on how she made it!

What’s that? You want to see the rest of the entries? Take a look at them HERE.

Registration will open for the next three months of challenges on Monday (June 27)! Here are the techniques we will be tackling next:

JULY – Pipe divider swirl, sponsored by Nature’s Garden!

This technique was created by Tania of Soapish. She is excited to see what everyone creates for the challenge! Here’s the soap I made for the video tutorial:

Mango Papaya soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Mango Papaya soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

AUGUST – Dancing funnel, created and taught by Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso. This will be a divided challenge between natural and synthetic entries. Majestic Mountain Sage will sponsor the natural category, and Rustic Escentuals will sponsor the synthetic category.

Here is the soap Tatsiana created for the tutorial:

Dancing Funnel soap by Creative Soap by Steso

Dancing Funnel soap by Creative Soap by Steso

SEPTEMBER – Piping soap, another divided challenge between newbies and experienced entries. Bath Alchemy Lab will sponsor the newbie category and Nurture Soap will sponsor the experienced category.

I have my equipment ready for this challenge, but nothing to show you just yet. This has been a hot technique lately, so I know it will be a fun one!

If you have signed up for Challenge Club notifications, you will receive one on Monday, June 27, as soon as registration opens. If you haven’t signed up yet, be sure to do it now!

notify-me