Winners Announcement: Circling Taiwan Swirl Challenge

The January Challenge was to make the Circling Taiwan Swirl. The guidelines to make the soap were very strict – in other words, there weren’t many variables to play with and get creative, and yet there are still so many different outcomes! Members were asked to provide a photo of two soaps from the end of their loaf in a mirror image to show the lotus flower pattern this technique is known for. (Some had trimmed their ends which made them appear to be middle pieces, but I verified the entries to make sure they were end pieces.) We divided the challenge into two categories: newbie and experienced. After taking a survey of our members in November I determined that about half had been making soap for less than two years, and the other half for two years or more, so that’s how I divided it. There’s incredible talent in both categories!

Our sponsor for the newbie category is Bath Alchemy Lab. Erica Pence is an excellent soap teacher and has several online classes for beginners on up. She also has some really great resources on her website that will be great for newbies! As a second time sponsor, we are very grateful to Erica for her generous prizes!

Majestic Mountain Sage is our sponsor for the experienced category. They have been a huge supporter of the Challenge Club since it started! They offer a wide variety of soapmaking supplies that will make any soapmaker happy to shop! HUGE thanks to Tina Howard and her staff for their generous prizes as well – you’ll see how much they were stretched this time around…

Let’s start with the winners in the newbie category – Congratulations goes to our grand prize winner, Carolyn Newton of Siennalily Soaps in Spain! Carolyn has been a faithful member of the Club since she started last July. She has won Sponsor’s Choice prize, but this is her first voted win! Her soap, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon came away with 63 votes. Check out the gorgeous sparkling colors and beautiful lotus flower:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Siennalily Soaps

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Siennalily Soaps

Carolyn wins a free online class from Bath Alchemy Lab! Click on the photo of her soap to see her blog post and read more about how she made it.

Second place goes to Vivian Sullivan of Selah Artisan Soaps in North Carolina! Vivian has been a participant two other times, but this is her first win. She gained 52 votes for her beautiful soap called Lotus Dawn, a gorgeous display of the Circling Taiwan Swirl technique with perfectly contrasting colors:

Lotus Dawn by Selah Artisan Soaps

Lotus Dawn by Selah Artisan Soaps

Vivian wins a $75 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab – congratulations!!

In third place with 46 votes, we have Debi Olsen from Colorado! Debi has been a hardworking member of the Club since September, moving her way up the ranks to a prize-winning position for the first time this month. Congratulations, Debi! Her soap is Bergamot & White Tea with a beautiful Spring palette of colors, and fabulous swirls:

Bergamot & White Tea soap by Debi Olsen

Bergamot & White Tea soap by Debi Olsen

Debi has won a $50 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab! Be sure to click on her photo to see her Pinterest board with more info about this soap and others she made with this technique.

Finally, Bath Alchemy Lab has chosen Sumalee Duncan of Gusto Aroma in Australia to receive the Sponsor’s Choice prize! Congratulations, Sumalee! She has been a faithful member of the Challenge Club as well, and this is her first time winning a prize. Erica says, “I like the colors A LOT and her design is very different than the rest.” She’s right! Check out her beautiful soap:

Black Amber & Lavender soap by Gusto Aroma

Black Amber & Lavender soap by Gusto Aroma

Sumalee wins a $25 gift certificate from Bath Alchemy Lab! Click on her photo to see her Facebook album with more photos and information about her soap.

And now for the experienced category…this was a tight race, people!!

The grand prize goes to Janie Hadsel of Lucky Duck Soap and Spa, LLC in Colorado – a recent re-location for her from South Carolina! Congratulations, Janie – I hope this helps you settle into your new space! Janie received 59 votes for her Lavender Citrus soap which is a perfect example of this technique, with its clean line swirls and beautiful color palette:

Lavender Citrus soap by Lucky Duck Soap and Spa, LLC

Lavender Citrus soap by Lucky Duck Soap and Spa, LLC

Janie wins a $100 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage! Click on the photo for more info and photos from Janie’s blog post.

And here is where our contest got really tight…the following three members all tied for second place with 44 votes each:

Congratulaions to Tia Giesemann of That Green Stuff in Australia, Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap By Steso in California, and Odette Handley of Riverlea Soaps in South Africa!! Each of these ladies has won a $75 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage!

Let’s start with Tia’s soap. This is Tia’s first time competing in the Challenge Club, and her soap is called Carnivale for its “bright popping colors”. She did an amazing job, don’t you think?

Carnivale soap by That Green Stuff

Carnivale soap by That Green Stuff

Click on the photo to see more photos and her other attempts at this technique.

Next we have Tatiana’s soap. Tatiana is a seasoned member of the Challenge Club and it’s no surprise that she has created yet another masterpiece. The colors are inspired by a photo of a life preserver with a blue rope on a golden yellow background. You’ll have to click on the photo to check it out:

Circling Taiwan Swirl soap by Tatiana Serko

Circling Taiwan Swirl soap by Tatiana Serko

And now for Odette’s soap. Odette has been a faithful member of the Challenge Club as well, even sponsoring one of our challenges! Her Circling Taiwan Swirl soap has a fantastic lotus pattern and charming color palette:

Circling Taiwan Swirl soap by Riverlea Soap

Circling Taiwan Swirl soap by Riverlea Soap

In third place we have Jennifer Watters from Arizona! This is Jennifer’s first time participating and she received 34 votes for her elegant Twilight Blossom soap. The richness of the black center of the soap is highlighted by pink & white swirl and surrounded by a deep blue:

Twilight Blossom soap by Jennifer Watters

Twilight Blossom soap by Jennifer Watters

Finally, Majestic Mountain Sage has chosen Jolene Sing of Scent & Sensibility in Canada to receive their Sponsor’s Choice prize, a $25 gift certificate. Tina chose this soap because as she says, “The shower/bath is a spiritual time for me and I am not drawn to the ultra bold color.” Congratulations to Jolene for all her hard work paying off! Her Peacock soap has the most lovely wispy swirls:

Peacock soap by Scent & Sensibility

Peacock soap by Scent & Sensibility

Such amazing talent – and you haven’t even seen all the entries yet! Be sure to check them out HERE.

Next month we are doing a theme challenge called Winter Wonderland! You won’t want to miss it! The challenge will be divided in two categories once again – this time natural vs. synthetic. Only one entry per member – choose one or the other. Soaps entered in the natural category must be made with all natural ingredients, including colors and scents. Those in the synthetic category may use synthetic colors and/or scents. The sponsor for the natural category will be Brambleberry, and for the synthetic category will be Nurture Soap.

Here’s the soap I made for the video tutorial with all natural ingredients:

Winter Wonderland soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Winter Wonderland soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Registration will open Monday, February 1st for this challenge. If you would like to be notified, please sign up here:

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Impression Mat Challenge Winners

We are closing out the Soap Challenge Club this year with the Impression Mats challenge. Personally, I had no idea how much fun this challenge would be! Members were asked to make soap with an impression mat that they either purchased or made themselves. These mats are usually used for the cake and candy industry, but they sure create some beautiful options for soap as well! The idea was to use the impression mat in the bottom of the soap mold, then flip the soap over so that the bottom becomes the beautiful top created by the impression mat.

Brambleberry was our sponsor this month, and they graciously gave all our members a coupon code to get 25% off their pourable silicone kit for those who wanted to play. Their prizes for our winners are pretty incredible too!

Check out our winners:

Our grand prize winner is none other than Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso in California! She was our teacher last month, so it’s no surprise that she created this beautiful Baroque soap:

Baroque soap by Tatiana

Baroque soap by Tatiana

Tatiana wins a $100 gift certificate from Brambleberry! Be sure to click on the photo to see how she created her soap.

Second place goes to Yvonne Pedersen in Norway! She made this beautiful and creative Oriental Triangle soap by adapting a log mold and using her impression mat in the bottom point. You can see her process if you click on the photo:

Oriental Triangle soap by Yvonne

Oriental Triangle soap by Yvonne

Yvonne’s prize is a $75 gift certificate from Brambleberry!

In third place we have Sara Golding of Sunflower State Soap in Kansas! Sara’s soap is called Garden-ia Butterflies. She was able to create several different looks by testing out two different techniques in her one batch of soap. You’ll want to click on the photo to read all about her process on her Facebook page:

Garden-ia Butterflies by Sunflower State Soap

Garden-ia Butterflies by Sunflower State Soap

Sara wins a $50 gift certificate from Brambleberry!

Finally, Brambleberry has chosen Sylvia Otypkia of Soaps by Sly to receive their Sponsor’s Choice prize! Sly created a beautiful rainbow of colors in the impression mat she scored from Hobby Lobby. She calls this Four Thieves, based on the essential oil blend used to scent the soap. Click on the photo to read all about her process and recipe on her blog:

Four Thieves Soap by Soaps by Sly

Four Thieves Soap by Soaps by Sly

Congratulations on your $25 gift certificate from Brambleberry, Sly!

You can check out the rest of the entries from our Impression Mat Challenge HERE. They are all impressive!!

We will take a short break for the holidays, then start up the 2016 Challenges on January 4th. You will have the option to register for January only, or the next three months of challenges.

For the January Challenge we will be doing Elaine Wright’s version of the Circling Taiwan Swirl. This technique creates several unique looks on the inside of the soap, including a lotus blossom shape:

Circling Taiwan Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Circling Taiwan Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

As well as this beautiful swirl:

Inside piece of Circling Taiwan Swirl

Inside piece of Circling Taiwan Swirl

We’re going to try something new in January. There will be two different challenges – one for new soapmakers with under two years experience, and one for more experienced soapmakers with two or more years experience. Bath Alchemy Lab is sponsoring the challenge for the newbies with a free online class (up to $145 value) for the grand prize winner, $75 gift certificate for 2nd place, $50 gift certificate for 3rd place, and $25 gift certificate for Sponsor’s Choice. Majestic Mountain Sage is sponsoring the challenge for the experienced soapers with a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize, $75 gift certificate for 2nd place, $50 gift certificate for 3rd place, and $25 gift certificate for Sponsor’s Choice. Alex Kelly is also providing a coupon code for 15% off your purchase at his etsy store, Custom Soap Stamps, for everyone who enters a soap in either challenge that will be good through the end of February.

In February, we will have a theme challenge: Winter Wonderland. Details will come later, but members will be able to decide whether to enter a soap made with all-natural ingredients, or one with synthetic colors and fragrance. Brambleberry is sponsoring the all-natural challenge with gift certificate prizes, plus a copy of Anne-Marie’s new book, Pure Soapmaking, containing 32 original recipes for all-natural soaps. Nurture Soap is sponsoring the synthetic challenge with gift certificate prizes.

For March, Tatiana Serko will be back as our guest teacher, showing us how to create Rimmed Soaps. This challenge will be divided between U.S. and international participants. Rustic Escentuals will sponsor the U.S. challenge, and Voyageur Soap & Candle Co. in British Columbia, Canada will sponsor the international challenge.

If you haven’t signed up for notifications about the Challenge Club and tutorials, please do so here:

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Making Soap with Impression Mats

For the December Challenge Club, we have been making soap with impression mats. It has definitely been a challenge! I’ve made three soaps using this technique. For the first one, I tested out Lori Curry’s dry mica technique using a pre-made impression mat, and came up with this soap:

I call it Sweet & Spicy Potpourri soap because it has a warm apple spicy scent.

I call it Sweet & Spicy Potpourri soap because it has a warm apple spicy scent.

For the second soap, I filled in the vine and leaf design on a pre-made mat with some green soap, then did a pink gradient:

This one is scented with Sweet Pea & Rhubarb.  It smells divine!

This one is scented with Sweet Pea & Rhubarb. It smells divine!

Finally, I was able to successfully make my own impression mat with a vinyl lace place mat, and filled the lace impression with white soap, then made a layer of blue followed by a marbled dark coral. It turned out better than I could have imagined:

Lace soap, scented with a hibiscus fragrance.

Lace soap, scented with a hibiscus fragrance.

Here’s making video of this soap:

I’ll have the impression mat tutorial available on my website in a few weeks! The soaps will be available for purchase at Greatcakessoapworks.com in January. Check out our Coming Soon page to see all the soaps that are currently curing and when they will be available!

Congratulations to the Alternative Liquids Challenge Winners!

The Soap Challenge for October was a little bit different. We focused on Alternative Liquids that can be used to mix with our lye solution. Each member was also asked to do some research and share with the rest of us why they chose the liquid they did and what the benefits are (if any) in soap. Many beneficial ingredients can lose their potency once introduced to the alkaline environment created by sodium hydroxide, and there isn’t always research available to identify exactly how much benefit remains in cold processed soap, but we did our best to present the information that could be found. While we cannot make any type of medical claims about the soaps that we sell, it is useful to understand how certain ingredients can make our soaps as good for our skin as possible.

Additionally, members were asked to use natural ingredients to color and scent their soaps. No fragrance oils, micas, oxides, dyes or pigments were allowed. This was a challenge in and of itself for many members who had not attempted this before, but what a great learning experience!

We had a new sponsor this month – Rustic Escentuals! They specialize in a diverse selection of fragrances, as well as candle making, soap making and lip balm making supplies – and their new website launches tomorrow, so be sure to check it out! Their prize packages were very generous, as you will see in the winner announcements. Alex Kelly of Custom Soap Stamps also came through with a custom soap stamp for the grand prize winner, plus a coupon code to his etsy store for everyone who submitted a soap this month. He makes so much more than just soap stamps too! Thank you so much to both for sponsoring!!

Voting was based on 1. Choice of Liquid, 2. Research, and 3. Design. Out of 74 entries, the grand prize winner is Debbie Walker from France!! Debbie has been a long time member of the Challenge Club, and this is her first time in the top 3 – I couldn’t be more happy for her! She chose to make her soap with Rooibos Tea, and when you read her excellent research and see her stunning design, it is obviously how she attained her standing:

Rooibos Tea soap by Debbie Walker

Rooibos Tea soap by Debbie Walker

Be sure to click on the photo to see how she made the swirl! Debbie has won a $100 gift certificate, plus six 1 oz. fragrances and six mica samples from Rustic Escentuals, and a custom soap stamp from Custom Soap Stamps. Congratulations, Debbie!

Second place goes to Maya Matsuoka in Japan, yet another long-time member of the Challenge Club! She was gifted some organic Bulgarian rose water, which according to her research, actually retains its benefits in cold process soap. Her beautiful soap was colored with madder root, kaolin clay, and bamboo charcoal with stunning results:

Red Velvet & Cotton soap by Maya Matsuoka

Red Velvet & Cotton soap by Maya Matsuoka

Once again, you can click on the photo to read more about how this soap was made. Congratulations to Maya on her second place finish and her prize package from Rustic Escentuals which includes a $75 gift certificate, plus six 1 oz. fragrances and six mica samples!

In third place we have Teressa Mahoney from Colorado who creates some stunning soaps as well! Her chosen liquids (guidelines allowed one or two) were carrot juice and fresh goat’s milk for the purpose of creating a facial bar, with indigo powder, rose clay, kaolin clay, and sea clay as her colorants. As an added benefit, Teressa shared how she makes pencil lines in a vertical mold:

Carrot and Acai Berry Facial soap by Teressa Mahoney

Carrot and Acai Berry Facial soap by Teressa Mahoney

Click the photo for more information about how this soap was made and to see her tutorial! Teressa’s prizes include a $50 gift certificate plus six 1 oz. fragrances and six mica samples from Rustic Escentuals! Congratulations, Teressa!

Amy from Rustic Escentuals said, “People really were creative with all of the entries! I’m so impressed by everyone’s work.” She wanted to choose someone who was really creative with their alternative liquid, so their Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to…Joanna Humieniuk in Illinois! Joanna created this fabulous Birch soap, using birch water from her native country Poland and colored with pink Brazilian clay and Dead Sea mud. You will definitely want to click on the photo of her soap to read more about this amazing ingredient:

Birch soap by Joanna Humieniuk

Birch soap by Joanna Humieniuk

She wins a $25 gift certificate plus six 1 oz. fragrances and six mica samples from Rustic Escentuals! Congratulations, Joanna!

You can check out the rest of the entries this month HERE. There is so much valuable research shared. It’s a gold mine of information about different alternative liquids that can be used in cold process soap!

And now, we must move on to the next challenge. I am so excited for November! Tatiana Serko will be our guest teacher as we learn how to make the “Tall & Skinny Shimmy” (aka wall pour or segment filling). This technique requires a tall & skinny mold, but don’t worry if you don’t have one! Tatiana is also showing us how to make our own mold out of foam board! Here is the soap she made for the video tutorial:

Rainbow soap by Tatiana Serko

Rainbow soap by Tatiana Serko

Tatiana Serko

Tatiana Serko

Registration will open on Monday, October 26th for the November Challenge Club. Nature’s Garden is our sponsor, and will be providing gift certificates to the top three winners plus their Sponsor’s Choice winner!

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

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Here are the Clyde Slide Challenge Club Winners!

The September Challenge Club was another exciting month as we took on the “Clyde Slide” technique, perfected by Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap. The signature swirls end up looking feathered in the final soap. It’s such a beautiful look, and we had so much fun coming up with different feathered patterns in our soap! International and U.S. soapmakers competed separately again this month, and we must thank our sponsors who made this possible – Gracefruit Ltd. sponsored the international contest and Mad Oils sponsored the U.S. contest, and they have been wonderful supporters!

Let’s start with our International winners. Huge congrats to Vera Lede in Kazakhstan for her first place finish! She wins a £75 gift certificate from Gracefruit!! This was her first time participating in the Challenge Club, and she did a marvelous job with her soap called “Birth of the Universe”:

Birth of the Universe soap by Vera

Birth of the Universe soap by Vera

Click on the photo to see how she made it and other attempts with this technique!

In second place we have Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in Australia. Lisa is a long-time member and regularly places in the top three spots, so it’s no surprise that her Rainbow Clyde Slide soap wins a £25 gift certificate from Gracefruit, plus free registration to next month’s Challenge Club! Mesmerizing, isn’t it?

Rainbow Clyde Slide soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Rainbow Clyde Slide soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

If you click on her photo, you’ll see her Facebook album full of more gorgeous photos and information about her technique.

Third place goes to Krasi Nencheva of Aida Soap in Bulgaria, another first time Challenge Club participant! She also wins a £25 gift certificate from Gracefruit, and free registration to next month’s Challenge Club. Her Witch’s Brew is the perfect cauldron of halloween-colored soap:

Witch's Brew soap by Aida Soap

Witch’s Brew soap by Aida Soap

Click on her photo to see more photos in her Facebook album, as well as a link to a video showing exactly how she made this soap.

And finally, in the International contest, Gracefruit has chosen Carolyn Newton’s Aurora Borealis by Sienna Lily Soaps in Spain for their Sponsor’s Choice prize winner! Carolyn has been participating in the challenges for several months now and she wins a £25 gift certificate from Gracefruit. Her gorgeous soap shows all the beautiful colors of an aurora:

Aurora Borealis by Sienna Lily Soaps

Aurora Borealis by Sienna Lily Soaps

If you click on her photo, you will find her blog post filled with photos of each step of her process.

Now, for the U.S. winners! In first place is Jeanne Cooper of Cooper’s Handcrafted Soap Co. in Georgia. Congratulations to Jeanne, another first time participant, for her Aurora Borealis soap! (Do we have a theme here?) She wins a $50 gift certificate from Mad Oils, plus her choice of one of their Mica Collections. Jeanne created this fantastic feathered blur of colors across the entire front of her soap:

Aurora Borealis soap by Cooper's Handcrafted Soap Co.

Aurora Borealis soap by Cooper’s Handcrafted Soap Co.

Click on her photo to see her blog post with more details about her process as well as her inspiration photo.

Congratulations to Jamie Cunningham of Whitetail Lane Farm in Pennsylvania for her second place finish! She wins a $25 gift certificate from Mad Oils, plus free registration to next month’s Challenge Club! Jamie specializes in fresh goat milk soap, and since her husband asked for Sweet Orange and Chili Pepper scented soap, this is the beauty she created:

Sweet Orange Chili Pepper soap by Whitetail Lane Farm

Sweet Orange and Chili Pepper soap by Whitetail Lane Farm

Please click on the photo to read Jamie’s blog post!

And in third place, we have a tie between Renee Spaulding of Lakehurst Farms in Vermont and Amy Sangder of Whipped Upp in Washington State. Renee is no stranger to the Challenge Club and has placed previously as well. Congrats for winning a $25 gift certificate from Mad Oils, plus free registration to next month’s Challenge Club! Renee’s vision for the challenge was to create Rise and Shine, made with bold citrus colored swirls that pop next to their black & white counterparts:

Rise and Shine soap by Renee of Lakehurst Farms

Rise and Shine soap by Renee of Lakehurst Farms

If you click on the photo, you’ll see the Facebook video of Renee making the soap.

Amy’s soap is called Feathered Hawks – and for good reason! Don’t we all love those happy surprise swirls when we cut into a fresh log of soap? Take a look at these hawk eyes staring back at you! Wow! Amy also wins a $25 gift certificate from Mad Oils, plus free registration to next month’s Challenge Club.

Feathered Hawks soap by Whipped Upp

Feathered Hawks soap by Whipped Upp

Click on the photo for a quick 3-minute video of Amy making this soap.

Finally, Mad Oils has chosen Julie Boesen from Illinois as their Sponsor’s Choice winner! Julie’s hard work participating in the challenges for the last six months has definitely paid off – Congratulations, Julie!! She wins a mica surprise pack, valued in excess of $25 for her Owl Feathers soap – more bird eyes – isn’t it fantastic??

Owl Feathers soap by Julie

Owl Feathers soap by Julie

I know you’re all dying to see the rest of the entries, so please check them out HERE.

One of our members also found predecessors to the Clyde Slide HERE and HERE with similar feathered swirls.

It’s always exciting to announce the next three months of challenges! For October, we will be doing Alternative Liquids using all natural ingredients for our soaps. Here is mine:

Spiced Pumpkin with Coffee Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Spiced Pumpkin with Coffee Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

You’ll have to join the challenge to find out which liquid I chose to replace the water in this soap! We have two sponsors for the October Challenge: Rustic Escentuals and Alex Kelly of Custom Soap Stamps and they are going to be very generous! The grand prizes include a $100 gift certificate from Rustic Escentuals and a custom soap stamp from Alex Kelly. Second place will receive a $75 gift certificate from Rustic Escentuals, and third place will receive a $50 gift certificate from Rustic Escentuals. Their Sponsor’s Choice winner will receive a $25 gift certificate, PLUS Alex Kelly will give 15% off to anyone who simply enters their soap in the challenge for his entire store for the remainder of the month of October.

For November, the technique is called the Tall & Skinny Shimmy. We have a guest teacher whom many of you will recognize as a member in previous challenges: Tatiana Serko!! Her blog, Creative Soap by Steso, is full of beautiful soapy inspiration! I am thrilled that she agreed to show us how to make this soap:

Tall & Skinny Rainbow Shimmy soap by Tatiana

Tall & Skinny Rainbow Shimmy soap by Tatiana

The sponsor for November is Nature’s Garden. They will award the grand prize winner with a $100 gift certificate, with a $75 gift certificate for second place, a $50 gift certificate for third, and a $25 gift certificate for Sponsor’s Choice. Wow!

And finally, December’s technique will feature Impression Mats. There will be plenty of inspiration for this technique! Brambleberry will sponsor – prizes announced soon!

If you aren’t already signed up for notifications about the Soap Challenge Club, you can do that now! You’ll get an email as soon as registration opens on Monday, plus information about half price tutorials and more…

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Here are the Winners of the Mantra Marbles Challenge!

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

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

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

Soap No. 12 by Trish

Soap No. 12 by Trish

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

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

Flame Kissed Marshmallow Soap by Michelle

Flame Kissed Marshmallow Soap by Michelle

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

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

Stargazer Lilies soap by Claudia

Stargazer Lilies soap by Claudia

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

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

Crazy 88 soap by Alexis

Crazy 88 soap by Alexis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Check Out the Winners of the Embracing Opposites Challenge!

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

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

International category:

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

Aurora Australis soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Aurora Australis soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

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

Yin yang soap by Tina

Yin yang soap by Tina

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

Black & White soap by Sviatlana

Black & White soap by Sviatlana

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

Opposite Face Soap by Monica Felix

Opposite Face Soap by Monica Felix

U.S. category:

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

Summer & Winter soap by The Village Soapsmith

Summer & Winter soap by The Village Soapsmith

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

Embracing Opposites soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

Embracing Opposites soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

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

Black & White soap by Whipped Upp

Black & White soap by Whipped Upp

Fire & Water soap by Michelle Bailey

Fire & Water soap by Michelle Bailey

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

What Happens Under the Field soap by Brittany Warwick

What Happens Under the Field soap by Brittany Warwick

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

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

Cherry Citrus Mantra Marbles soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Cherry Citrus Mantra Marbles soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Hope you’ll join us!

Announcing the Winners of the Ebru Challenge Club!

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

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

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

Ebru-inspired soap by Yvonne

Ebru-inspired soap by Yvonne

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

Ebru inspired pomegranate tree soap by Svetlana

Ebru inspired pomegranate tree soap by Svetlana

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

Crazy Owl by Tatiana

Crazy Owl by Tatiana

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

Ebru Birds in Soap by Tina

Ebru Birds in Soap by Tina

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

Ebru soap by Craft-T-Country

Ebru soap by Craft-T-Country

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

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

Opposite color theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite color theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mini Dessert Soaps Challenge Club Winners

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

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

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Riverlea Soap

Mini Dessert Soaps by Riverlea Soap

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

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

Mini Desserts Soaps by Soap Techniques

Mini Desserts Soaps by Soap Techniques

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Merry Day Soaps

Mini Dessert Soaps by Merry Day Soaps

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Yvonne Pedersen

Mini Dessert Soaps by Yvonne Pedersen

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Terresa Mahoney

Mini Dessert Soaps by Teressa Mahoney

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tatiana

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tatiana

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tovah (Nectar Bath Treats)

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tovah (Nectar Bath Treats)

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Donna (Nectar Bath Treats)

Mini Dessert Soaps by Donna (Nectar Bath Treats)

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

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

Ebru soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Ebru soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

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

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Spinning Swirl Soap Challenge Winners

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

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

Sonya's Spinning Swirl Soap

Sonya’s Spinning Swirl Soap

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

Mirage Spinning Swirl soap by Soap Techniques

Mirage Spinning Swirl soap by Soap Techniques

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

Rainbow Spinning Swirl Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Rainbow Spinning Swirl Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Lesley created this lovely Tiger Stripe Spinning Swirl:

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright Spinning Swirl Soap by Renaissance Soaps

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright Spinning Swirl Soap by Renaissance Soaps

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

Ruth's Spinning Swirl Soap

Ruth’s Spinning Swirl Soap

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

Spinning Swirl Soap by Claudia Carpenter

Spinning Swirl Soap by Claudia Carpenter

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

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

Forest Bark Spinning Swirl Soap by Teressa Mahoney

Forest Bark Spinning Swirl Soap by Teressa Mahoney

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

Sea Glass Spinning Swirl Soap by Minne-Soap-Ah

Sea Glass Spinning Swirl Soap by Minne-Soap-Ah

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

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

Spinning Swirl Soap by Swirling Sky

Spinning Swirl Soap by Swirling Sky

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

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

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon of Oil & Butter

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon of Oil & Butter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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