Rimmed Soap Challenge Winners!

Talk about a challenge…the rimmed soap technique was definitely one of the more challenging techniques that the Soap Challenge Club has ever done! Huge thanks to Tatsiana Serko for teaching us this advanced technique so that everyone had a chance at success. All of the soaps had to be made in a round mold, and there are some really stunning results! Shout out to our sponsors this month also: Rustic Escentuals sponsored the U.S. category and Voyageur Soap and Candle Co. (in Canada) sponsored the International category with some amazing prizes!

Even though we only had 16 entries in the International category, there were some very serious contenders!! The top three were all within four votes of one another. I know you are anxious to see the results, so here are the winners in the International category:

Congratulations goes to our grand prize winner: Anastasia Krasilnikova in Czech Republic with her beautiful Damask Rimmed soap, made with an impression mat:

Damask Rimmed Soap by Anastasia

Damask Rimmed Soap by Anastasia

You will definitely want to click on her photo to see her blog post about the many different rimmed soaps she made before she fell in love with this one for the challenge. Anastasia has been making soap for just seven months now, although you would never know it! She wins a $100 gift certificate from Voyageur!

In a close second place is Carolyn Newton of Siennalily Soaps in Spain. This is her third time winning a prize in the Challenge Club. Congratulations, Carolyn, on your gorgeous rimmed soap, inspired by an Egyptian design:

Tutankhamun Rimmed Soap by Siennalily Soaps

Tutankhamun Rimmed Soap by Siennalily Soaps

Click the photo to see Carolyn’s inspiration and how she made her soap – also with an impression mat! Carolyn wins a $75 gift certificate from Voyageur!

Just one vote behind Carolyn is Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Studio in Australia in third place! Lisa has managed to place in the top 3 NINE times now – usually with her signature rainbow design! Her Star Rainbow rimmed soap is just stunning:

Star Rainbow Rimmed Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Star Rainbow Rimmed Soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Check out her post on Facebook by clicking the photo above to see Lisa’s process in making her soap with star rainbow embeds! Lisa wins a $50 gift certificate from Voyageur!

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Melanie Maddock of Sweet Escape in New Zealand for her gorgeous May Chang Rimmed Soap made with neon swirls and raspberry seeds. This is Melanie’s first prize since she has been participating in the Club – congratulations!! Tammy Evans from Voyageur said this: “We awarded the Sponsor’s Choice prize to May Chang Swirl because we loved the duality of the speckled middle with the brightly coloured retro style swirled rim. The vibrant colour choice combined with the precision of the rim around the inner circle made the bar look not only fresh and fun but also very polished and professional.”

May Chang Rimmed Soap by Sweet Escape

May Chang Rimmed Soap by Sweet Escape

Melanie wins a $25 gift certificate from Voyageur!

In the U.S. category, the competition was also pretty stiff, although Holly Shelton of Kapia Mera Soap Co. came away as the clear grand prize winner! Congratulations!! Holly has placed second twice, but she wins the grand prize this month for her simply elegant black and white rimmed soap:

Charcoal and Clay Rimmed Soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

Charcoal and Clay Rimmed Soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

On her blog post, Holly shares her recipe as well as a video of her process, so be sure to click through! She wins a $100 gift certificate, plus 6 1-oz. fragrances & 6 mica samples from Rustic Escentuals!

Second place goes to a brand new Challenge Club member: Ann Kruschke in Ohio who is celebrating her one-year soapiversary!! She made her rimmed soap look like a watercolor version of a watermelon:

Summertime Rimmed Soap by Ann Kruschke

Summertime Rimmed Soap by Ann Kruschke

Isn’t it amazing? Click on the photo to see her blog post that includes her recipe and process. Ann wins a $75 gift certificate, plus 6 1-oz. fragrances & 6 mica samples from Rustic Escentuals!

In third place – by only one vote! – is Brittany Warwick in Wisconsin for her fabulous Japanese Cherry Blossom rimmed soap:

Japanese Cherry Blossom Rimmed Soap by Brittany Warwick

Japanese Cherry Blossom Rimmed Soap by Brittany Warwick

Brittany won the Sponsor’s Choice prize for the Embracing Opposites challenge last July, but this is her first voted win, and it’s well deserved!! Click on the photo to see her blog post with all the details about her soap. Brittany wins a $50 gift certificate, plus 6 1-oz. fragrances & 6 mica samples from Rustic Escentuals!

We have a Sponsor’s Choice winner from Rustic Escentuals as well: Congrats to Bonnie Howard of The Village Soapsmith in North Carolina for her Black Raspberry Vanilla Rimmed Soap! Amy Coker says, “This soap is not only beautifully done by the challenge set forth, but it’s beautifully done in the attention to detail. This soap maker has taken a common scent and crafted the soap to be completely unique by their color choices and swirls as applied to the challenge. The colors chosen perfectly complement the scent’s notes. The rim swirls look like they were carefully and artfully done. Lastly, the swirling in the center with more complementary colors tie the soap together. Attention to detail = very well done.”

Black Raspberry Vanilla Rimmed Soap by The Village Soapsmith

Black Raspberry Vanilla Rimmed Soap by The Village Soapsmith

Click on Bonnie’s soap photo to read more about her soap on her blog! Bonnie wins a $25 gift certificate, plus 6 1-oz. fragrances & 6 mica samples from Rustic Escentuals!

To see the rest of the entries for the Rimmed Soap Challenge, be sure to click HERE.

And now it’s time to announce the next three months of challenges….no divided categories for these – they are all one big challenge each month!

For April, we are doing a location theme challenge! I happen to be a Kansas girl, so what does everyone seem to reference when they hear Kansas? The Wizard of Oz! Here’s the soap I made for the tutorial:

Wizard of Oz soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Wizard of Oz soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

What’s special about where you live? Our sponsor for the Location Theme Challenge is TKB Trading.

In May, we will tackle the tear drop technique, like this one by Sergio Masala:

Lacrimosa by Sergio Masala

Lacrimosa by Sergio Masala

Our sponsors are Mad Oils and Lovin Soap Studio.

In June, Claudia Carpenter of Om Nom Soap will be our guest teacher to show us how to create Sculpted Layers like she did for her Winter Wonderland soap:

Winter Wonderland soap by Claudia Carpenter

Winter Wonderland soap by Claudia Carpenter

Our sponsor is Custom Soap Stamps.

You will have the option to register for all three months or April only starting this Monday, March 28. Sign up to be notified when registration opens AND the tutorial for the Rimmed Soaps becomes available if you haven’t already:

notify-me

Winter Wonderland Winners

For the month of February, we did a theme challenge called “Winter Wonderland”. The only requirement was to have an element of snow in all cold-process soap. Small non-soap embellishments were allowed, and the challenge was also divided between all-natural and synthetic entries. In order to be considered for the all-natural category, the soap must have been made with all-natural ingredients – no fragrance oils, micas, oxides or dyes, and all ingredients had to be listed. We are so grateful to our sponsors this month! Brambleberry sponsored the all-natural category, and Nurture Soap sponsored the synthetic category. I was very pleased to see close to the same number of entries in each category!

Let’s start with the synthetic category. Claudia Carpenter of Om Nom Soap in California completely knocked our socks off with her winning entry! She’s a long-time member and supporter of the Challenge Club and is the creative genius behind the Challenge Club logo and stamps for our winners. For this challenge she created a 3D design in her Winter Wonderland soap:

Winter Wonderland soap by Om Nom Soap

Winter Wonderland soap by Om Nom Soap

I know you’ll want to click on the photo to see how she did it, and even then you’ll be left scratching your head! Congratulations, Claudia, on your grand prize which is a $100 gift certificate from Nurture Soap!

In second place, we have another beautiful soap. Congratulations goes to Ami Johnson from Idaho who just participated in the challenge for the first time last month! Her cardinal design is fantastic with all the piped branches, berries, and of course the cardinal:

Winter Cardinal soap by Ami Johnson

Winter Cardinal soap by Ami Johnson

(Click on the photo to see a larger version.) Ami wins a $75 gift certificate from Nurture Soap!

Third place in the synthetic category goes to Jessaca Redd in Texas for her adorable chickadee soap! Jessaca used an impression mat to create a wood pattern on the bottom of her soap, then embedded the chickadees in the snowy white background.

Chickadee in Snow soap by In a State of Namaste

Chickadee in Snow soap by Jessaca Redd

Jessaca wins a $50 gift certificate from Nurture Soap – congrats! Click on the photo to see how she made the soap.

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Pooja Nidgudkar of Blue Nectar Soaps in California for her Icicle soap! Carrie Thornsbury, owner of Nurture Soap says, “I really like how the colors came together in this soap, and how the icicles were embedded to lend a unique visual effect. It kind of reminds me of a Van Gogh painting!”

Icicle soap by Blue Nectar Soaps

Icicle soap by Blue Nectar Soaps

Congratulations, Pooja! She wins a $25 gift certificate from Nurture Soap, and you can click on the photo to learn more about how she made the soap.

Competition in the all-natural category was pretty tight. I’m pleased to announce that the grand prize goes to Penny Simmons in Arkansas for her Snowy Winter’s Night soap! Penny has been participating with the Challenge Club for quite some time now and this is her first time as a winner! Here’s her stunning soap:

Snowy Winter's Night by Penny Simmons

Snowy Winter’s Night by Penny Simmons

Congrats to you, Penny! She has won a $100 gift certificate, plus Anne-Marie Faiola’s new book, Pure Soapmaking*, from Brambleberry! Click on the photo to see how Penny made her soap.

In second place, Holly Shelton of Kapia Mera Soap Co in Tennessee was just three votes behind Penny with her Winter Landscape soap. Holly has been a long-standing member of the Club also and this is her second time with a second place win! Her soap is multi-layered with multiple design elements that all came together to create one amazing soap:

Winter Landscape Soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co

Winter Landscape Soap by Kapia Mera Soap Co

Holly wins a $75 gift certificate, plus the Pure Soapmaking book from Brambleberry! Way to go, Holly! Be mesmerized by the video she created of the making of her soap by clicking on the photo.

In third place is the cutest little polar bear soap you’ve ever seen by Diana Ruzic of Organza Soaps in Ohio. Diana is another long-time member of the Club who is placing for her first time ever! Check out her sweet soap:

Polar Bear soap by Organza Soaps

Polar Bear soap by Organza Soaps

Congrats to Diana for winning a $50 gift certificate, plus the Pure Soapmaking book from Brambleberry! Click on the photo to see her blog post on how she made her soap.

And….the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Hayley McHendry of Soap Lore in New Jersey for her Bird and Winter Aspens soap. This was Hayley’s first challenge, and hopefully the first of many more! Amber Strawn from Brambleberry says, “We loved the creative combination of techniques. Looking at it we couldn’t even figure out how she did it at first – which is really impressive given how many soaps we’ve made/seen here at Bramble Berry!”

Birds and Winter Aspens soap by Soap Lore

Birds and Winter Aspens soap by Soap Lore

Hayley wins a $25 gift certificate, plus the Pure Soapmaking book from Brambleberry! Excellent work, Hayley! If you’re as curious as to how she made the soap as Amber was, be sure to click on the photo to see her process.

You can see the rest of the beautiful Winter Wonderland soaps HERE. There are so many different designs and techniques represented – so impressive!!

Our next challenge is coming up soon! For March, Tatsiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso is our guest teacher once again as we learn how to make Rimmed Soaps! This is an advanced technique, but she has broken down the steps and provided a recipe and technique that should help us all be successful! Here’s the soap she created for the tutorial:

Rimmed Soap by Creative Soap by Steso

Rimmed Soap by Creative Soap by Steso

We will divide the challenge between U.S. and international participants to give more opportunities for prizes. Rustic Escentuals is the sponsor for the U.S. challenge and Voyageur Soap & Candle Co. is the sponsor for the International challenge. Registration opens this Monday, February 29th for those who wish to join and learn! If you haven’t signed up to receive notifications yet, here’s where to go:

notify-me

*affiliate link

Soaping with Anne-Marie

I was so excited to receive a signed copy of Anne-Marie Faiola’s new book Pure Soapmaking: How to Create Nourishing, Natural Skin Care Soaps along with a full kit to make the Annatto-Yarrow soap!

kit

The book is so comprehensive, as it includes information about the soapmaking process, choosing equipment and molds, how to use herbs and other natural additives, choosing scents and designing recipes – PLUS 32 recipes ranging from simple to stunning. The Annatto-Yarrow soap is in the “Pure Beauty” category, but I think it also fits “Colorful & Creative”! This was a multiple-day, multiple-step project that included several firsts for me including these ingredients:
1. Yarrow powder
2. Pomace olive oil
3. Chia seed oil
4. Rosemary & bergamot essential oil blend

And these techniques:
1. Adding spirulina to lye water
2. Cutting embeds with a cheese slicer
3. Infusing annatto with a heat sealable tea bag and double boiler
4. Pouring soap in an “S” curve in the mold

Here’s a photo of the photo of Anne-Marie’s version:

book-photo

The first step was to create the embeds with spirulina as the color. I’ve used spirulina in the past. It’s seaweed, and it smells like seaweed. This recipe calls for bergamot essential oil with this part of the soap, and I felt that it blended well with the spirulina scent. I’m sure the seaweed scent will fade over time.

The last time I used spirulina to color my soap, it stayed green for about 48 hours after I cut it, and then turned brown. This time the recipe called for a LOT more spirulina and it was added directly to the lye water instead of added at trace. (The yarrow powder was added to the lye water as well.)

green-lye-water

I’m guessing the pomace olive oil worked well with this part of the soap since it has a somewhat greenish tint. I’ve heard that pomace can speed trace a bit, but I didn’t really notice if it did. The soap looked really dark green when I poured it in the mold:

green-soap-ITM

Anne-Marie recommended a cheese slicer to create the “grass blade” embeds. I went to Walmart to see what I could find, and my choices were 1. a super cheap, flimsy one (I could tell the wire wasn’t taut enough to cut the soap), and 2. one that appeared more sturdy, except someone had broken the handle off in the package! And I mean ONE. It was the last one left! So I went to the register and asked the cashier if I could get a discount. He said he doesn’t really do that, but I assured him that I really needed it and was going to buy it anyway, so he ended up giving me a deal after all! Good thing you can still use a cheese slicer without a full handle, but it does take a bit of practice to maneuver it through a thin piece of soap, and I think I need more practice!

embeds

For the main part of the soap, I needed an annatto infusion. Anne-Marie spells out how to create a cold infusion and a hot infusion, and I didn’t have time for the cold one, so I created a double boiler with the annatto seeds inside a heat sealable tea bag with the olive oil. Except the recipe called for one ounce of olive oil and I couldn’t see creating such a small amount, so I used two.

annatto-infusion

Once the annatto infusion was done, I was ready to make the rest of the soap. This is where a small amount of chia seed oil was added. It has a very pleasant aroma! This is the part of the soap that was scented with equal parts rosemary and bergamot which I really love! Half the batch was colored with the annatto, and the other half had poppy seeds, and yes, the spirulina discolored the mold – oops! (photo #1). I poured each color alternately in an “S” curve in the mold (photo #2). I really like how this randomized the pattern in the cut soap, as you’ll see later. I should have stopped when I reached the fill level of photo #3, but I kept going… By the time I pushed the embeds in the soap, it was overflowing just a bit (see #4):

pouring-process

And here it is with dried calendula petals on top:

soap-in-mold

I finally unmolded and cut the soap this afternoon. The calendula petals were pulled through by my wire cutter, and I had to break off the “edges” that had overflowed, but overall, I think it turned out pretty great! I love how many different colors and textures are achieved by this technique. Unfortunately, the spirulina is already turning brown, but I can’t smell it at all, so that’s good. This was a FUN soap to make, and well worth the time and effort!

final-soap

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:

notify-me

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:

notify-me

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:

The tutorial is now available on my website!

Announcing the Tall & Skinny Shimmy Challenge Winners!

The Tall & Skinny Shimmy was a deceptively challenging technique! Our guest teacher, Tatiana Serko, is a true soap artist and made it look so easy! She even showed us how to make our own tall & skinny soap mold out of foam board, which came in handy for many of us. The tricky part was making sure the soap batter was fully emulsified while not overblending. We had instances of crumbly soap from not stirring long enough, as well as soap that became too thick and wouldn’t shimmy. So, in the end, we celebrated the fact that everyone gave it their best efforts and now we celebrate those who really mastered the technique!

We are incredibly grateful to Nature’s Garden for sponsoring the challenge this month! They have been a terrific supporter of the Challenge Club since the very beginning!

And now, for the winners…

The grand prize winner is none other than Carmen Iclodean of Earth’s Raw Beauty in Las Vegas, Nevada!! Carmen nearly didn’t take soap out of the oven, let alone enter it, as she was sure it was a complete flop when she made it. She is a first time member of the Challenge Club and she titled her soap “Up in Flames” because the soap literally oozed oil in her oven and caught fire! You would never guess it though. Check it out:

Up in Flames soap by Earth's Raw Beauty

Up in Flames soap by Earth’s Raw Beauty

Click on the photo to read Carmen’s full story. She is the well-deserved recipient of a $100 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

Second place goes to Patricia DePhillips of Soap Amore in Lapeer, Michigan! Patricia has been participating in the Club since August, and this is her first time placing – Congratulations, Patricia! Her soap is aptly named ’55 Bel Aire based on the color palette she chose and her husband’s suggestion:

'55 Bel Aire soap by Soap Amore

’55 Bel Aire soap by Soap Amore

Click on the photo to see more of Patricia’s attempts at this technique. She wins a $75 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

In third place we have the ever talented Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in Sydney, Australia! Lisa departed from her famous rainbow colors in favor of this stunning Dragonfruit inspired palette:

Dragonfruit Shimmy soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Dragonfruit Shimmy soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Click on the photo to see her process on Facebook. Lisa wins a $50 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

Finally, Nature’s Garden has chosen Maya Matsuoka of Infusions blog in Tokyo, Japan as their Sponsor’s Choice prize winner!! Congratulations to Maya, a long-time member and supporter of the Challenge Club! Her Lemon & Ice soap turned out fantastic:

Lemon & Ice soap by Maya Matsuoka

Lemon & Ice soap by Maya Matsuoka

Click on the photo to read more about Maya’s soap on her blog. She wins a $25 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

And because I know you want to see all the other 93 entries, feel free to click over to the link-up HERE. The tutorial for this challenge will be available at Greatcakessoapworks.com starting tomorrow.

If you haven’t heard already, the technique for December is using Impression Mats. You can use a pre-made fondant mat, or create your own! Here’s my practice batch using a pre-made mat:

Pine Cone Impression Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Pine Cone Impression Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

I will share lots of resources for you to purchase your own pre-made fondant mat, as well as a coupon code from Brambleberry (our sponsor for December!) for 25% off their pourable silicone, which is currently out of stock, but should be available by the time registration opens. We will be taking a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. so registration will open on Monday, November 30th. If you haven’t signed up for notifications about the Challenge Club, please do so here:

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Scam Alert!

Warning Of ScamLast night I received an email from a guy named Tom Clarkson that said, “Have the ingredients changed in your Soap? I have used your brand for quite sometime now and have never had a issue. The bar is kept in a dry spot in the shower, yet seemed to dissolve/fall apart in the hand after just a few uses. Not to pleased. -Tom”

I didn’t have any record of him as a customer so I responded: “Thank you for contacting me. I’d like to help. Can you tell me which soap it was and when you purchased it from me?”

His response: “I’m not to sure when it was purchased as a relative that passed recently bought it for me. It was the clarifying bar. I must say I look forward to trying out the Oakmoss bar as well, many of my colognes have that scent in them! Thanks”

I thought it was a bit odd that the Clarifying Facial soap would dissolve so quickly as it is one of the hardest bars I make, but considering I have recently changed my recipe, I told him I would like to hear his feedback on the Oakmoss soap as well and I sent him a coupon code to cover the cost of one bar of soap plus shipping.

Later this morning I had this feeling that something wasn’t right about this guy, so I posted about my experience in one of the soaping groups on Facebook. Within the hour, I found out someone else had received the exact same email last night from him! I was so glad we figured it out! Someone suggested that I blog about the experience so no one else gets taken by this guy. Apparently he has struck before using a different name and claiming there was blood on the soap he received, also claiming that a dead relative had purchased it for him.

Hope this prevents someone else from getting sucked in by his story!

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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