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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The Long Road to Rebatch

I have been making pumpkin soaps with fresh goat’s milk and real pumpkin puree for many years now. Usually they are plain brown with mica stamped pumpkins on the front. This year I was going to try something new and different. I made a three-layer soap with fresh goat’s milk and fragrance in all three layers, and added pumpkin to the top and bottom layers. I also added some brown mica to the bottom layer and a bronze mica line between the bottom and second layers, and added some orange mica to the top layer. The next day I planned to cut the soap, and found an oil slick on top of the soap. I decided to let it air out for another day to see if the oil would absorb back into the soap. It didn’t. So I wiped it off with a paper towel:

Pumpkin soap in the mold

Pumpkin soap in the mold

I took the soap out of the mold and cut into the top layer to see what was inside, and it wasn’t pretty:

Crumbly, separating soap

Crumbly, separating soap

My theory at this point was that the soap in the top layer had started to heat up and saponify in the pot before I poured it into the mold. By stirring it up, I interrupted the process and it started to separate. It had started to go into “hot process mode” but because I didn’t continue to heat and stir the soap, it got stuck in the separation phase. I don’t know the technical terms for the chemical process at this point, but it’s what you might call “applesauce stage” with hot process soap.

Further evidence of overheating and separation

Further evidence of overheating and separation

My solution to this problem was to scrape off the top layer and chunk it up in the crock pot with the hopes that I could spread it back over the top and salvage the soap. This was not a small batch, so there was no way I could put the entire thing in my crock pot, nor did I want to disturb the first two layers which appeared to be so perfect underneath!

Scraped soap log

Scraped soap log

Soap chunks in the crock pot

Soap chunks in the crock pot

The fresh soap melted down easily without adding anything to it. In fact, I started the crock pot on high for a short time, then switched it to low and stirred every hour or so until it was completely melted. I re-lined my soap mold, put the first two layers of soap inside, then spread the top layer back on.

Hot-processed layer of soap over the top

Hot-processed layer of soap over the top

The next day I was excited to see how my “salvaged” soap turned out. I lifted the soap into the cutter, and what do you know – the hot-processed layer separated from the rest of the log!

Gasp!  Not good!

Gasp! Not good!

So I did what I had to do. I took the top layer off and cut it into mini soap bars to donate to a local ministry that helps refugees in Kansas City.

Top layer of soap cut into mini bars

Top layer of soap cut into mini bars

Once I decided to cut up the rest of the soap and re-batch it, I discovered that the bottom layer didn’t hold together so well either. I had to melt it down in several batches in my crock pot.

Bottom layer is seeping oils too!

Bottom layer is seeping oils too!

What did I end up with? Plain brown soap with mica stamped pumpkins on the front.

Final hot-processed pumpkin soap

Final hot-processed pumpkin soap

So why did the soap separate this year when it hadn’t in past years? My theory is that I used too much pumpkin. I used nearly the same amount of pumpkin in just two-thirds of the soap that I used in a full batch in previous years. It could also be the temperature of the pumpkin. In the bottom layer, the pumpkin puree was actually pretty cold out of the refrigerator. As I was pouring it into the soap, I realized that might not have been a great idea. So for the top layer (the one that separated a lot), I warmed it up before adding it to the soap. Obviously, the soap was already starting to heat up before I added the pumpkin – probably due to the goat’s milk. Normally, I would mix everything up and pour it all it once before it got too hot. With this soap, I was adding fragrance to each layer and waiting for them to set up before adding the next. Quite a bit of time had passed by the time I added the top layer, and the outside of the container felt pretty hot when I finally poured it.

Oh well. The rustic look isn’t so bad. Just wish I didn’t have to go through all the trouble to get there!

Here are the Winners of the Mantra Marbles Challenge!

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

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

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

Soap No. 12 by Trish

Soap No. 12 by Trish

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

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

Flame Kissed Marshmallow Soap by Michelle

Flame Kissed Marshmallow Soap by Michelle

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

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

Stargazer Lilies soap by Claudia

Stargazer Lilies soap by Claudia

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

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

Crazy 88 soap by Alexis

Crazy 88 soap by Alexis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Check Out the Winners of the Embracing Opposites Challenge!

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

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

International category:

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

Aurora Australis soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Aurora Australis soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

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

Yin yang soap by Tina

Yin yang soap by Tina

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

Black & White soap by Sviatlana

Black & White soap by Sviatlana

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

Opposite Face Soap by Monica Felix

Opposite Face Soap by Monica Felix

U.S. category:

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

Summer & Winter soap by The Village Soapsmith

Summer & Winter soap by The Village Soapsmith

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

Embracing Opposites soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

Embracing Opposites soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

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

Black & White soap by Whipped Upp

Black & White soap by Whipped Upp

Fire & Water soap by Michelle Bailey

Fire & Water soap by Michelle Bailey

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

What Happens Under the Field soap by Brittany Warwick

What Happens Under the Field soap by Brittany Warwick

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

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

Cherry Citrus Mantra Marbles soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Cherry Citrus Mantra Marbles soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Hope you’ll join us!

Winner of the Tagline Contest!

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

Tagline Contest for Great Cakes Soapworks

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

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

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

Thank you in advance!!

Commments are now closed.

Announcing the Winners of the Ebru Challenge Club!

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

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

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

Ebru-inspired soap by Yvonne

Ebru-inspired soap by Yvonne

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

Ebru inspired pomegranate tree soap by Svetlana

Ebru inspired pomegranate tree soap by Svetlana

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

Crazy Owl by Tatiana

Crazy Owl by Tatiana

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

Ebru Birds in Soap by Tina

Ebru Birds in Soap by Tina

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

Ebru soap by Craft-T-Country

Ebru soap by Craft-T-Country

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

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

Opposite color theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite color theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Opposite theme soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mini Dessert Soaps Challenge Club Winners

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

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

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Riverlea Soap

Mini Dessert Soaps by Riverlea Soap

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

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

Mini Desserts Soaps by Soap Techniques

Mini Desserts Soaps by Soap Techniques

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Merry Day Soaps

Mini Dessert Soaps by Merry Day Soaps

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Yvonne Pedersen

Mini Dessert Soaps by Yvonne Pedersen

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Terresa Mahoney

Mini Dessert Soaps by Teressa Mahoney

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tatiana

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tatiana

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tovah (Nectar Bath Treats)

Mini Dessert Soaps by Tovah (Nectar Bath Treats)

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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Donna (Nectar Bath Treats)

Mini Dessert Soaps by Donna (Nectar Bath Treats)

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

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

Ebru soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Ebru soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

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

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Returning to the Olathe Farmer’s Market

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

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

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

Collage of photos from the Olathe Farmer's Market

Collage of photos from the Olathe Farmer’s Market

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

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

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

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