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:

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*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

Impression Mat Challenge Winners

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

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

Check out our winners:

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

Baroque soap by Tatiana

Baroque soap by Tatiana

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

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

Oriental Triangle soap by Yvonne

Oriental Triangle soap by Yvonne

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

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

Garden-ia Butterflies by Sunflower State Soap

Garden-ia Butterflies by Sunflower State Soap

Sara wins a $50 gift certificate from Brambleberry!

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

Four Thieves Soap by Soaps by Sly

Four Thieves Soap by Soaps by Sly

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

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

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

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

Circling Taiwan Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Circling Taiwan Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

As well as this beautiful swirl:

Inside piece of Circling Taiwan Swirl

Inside piece of Circling Taiwan Swirl

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

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

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

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

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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 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

Mini Dessert Soaps by Donna

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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Central Soaper’s Workshop 2015

I can’t believe this was the LAST ONE. Central Soaper’s Workshop was founded by Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking three years ago, and last weekend was the third and final Workshop. (Insert sad face here!) We had an amazing line-up of speakers and presenters, with an option to attend the business track or the soapmaking track, OR there was a virtual option available as well for those who couldn’t attend in person. Everyone who was able to be there in person will have access to the virtual sessions as well – BONUS!

My part in the event was to teach some soap designs. I don’t have as many photos as I would like, but here are a couple of the soaps I made:

First soap - hanger swirl inside with Taiwan (linear) swirl on top

Hanger swirl inside with Taiwan (linear) swirl on top

The class requested a DNA/helix swirl, so of course I complied!

The class requested a DNA/helix swirl, so of course I complied! There’s a drop swirl inside.

I snagged this photo off Instagram.  realfoodfarms won the prize for the most #centralsoapers social media love!  Click the photo to check it out!

I snagged this photo off Instagram. realfoodfarms won the prize for the most #centralsoapers social media love! Click the photo to check it out!

This is the Litsea Lavender gradient soap I made on Sunday morning with lab colors from The Sage, and essential oils from Brambleberry. The colors should eventually bleed together!

This is the Litsea Lavender gradient soap I made on Sunday morning with lab colors from The Sage, and essential oils from Brambleberry. The colors should eventually bleed together!

The highlight for most of us was getting to meet the Soap Queen, Anne-Marie Faiola of Brambleberry. She demonstrated how to make beer soap and brine soap for the Soapmaking Track and gave Six Steps to Social Media Success for the Business Track. I enjoyed seeing her soap demonstration:

Anne-Marie Faiola discussing how to make a drop swirl beer soap

Anne-Marie Faiola discussing how to make a drop swirl beer soap

Brambleberry has been such a huge supporter of the Soap Challenge Club from the very beginning, so this is one of my favorite photos from the weekend (and my current Facebook profile pic):

Me, Anne-Marie and Kenna

Me, Anne-Marie and Kenna

I also got to meet Melinda Wolff-Foster of Melinda’s Naturals! She has been a member of the Challenge Club for several months and winner of the DNA/Helix swirl challenge last month! (She brought one of the soaps from that winning batch to show us – it was really cool!) Melinda discussed in her class how to formulate cold-process soap recipes for intricate designs and then demonstrated how she makes a NINE-color swirled soap. I was fortunate enough to witness her cutting the soap:

Melinda cutting her soap - and the final reveal!

Melinda cutting her soap – and the final reveal!

Majestic Mountain Sage sponsored the soap lab again this year which allowed every participant to make at least two one-pound batches of soap and practice the designs they learned.

Soapmakers at work!!

Soapmakers at work!!

Here I am with Andee and Tina from The Sage - love these gals and their endless soap knowledge!!  Grateful for their support of the Challenge Club too!

Here I am with Andee and Tina – love these gals and their endless soap knowledge!! Grateful for their support of the Challenge Club too!

On Sunday, RuthAnn Matthews of Divine Scents showed us how to make hot-process soap in the crockpot. She made it look so easy, and gave tips for keeping the soap fluid enough for designs at the end of the cook.

Ruth-Ann stirring down the soap as it cooks.

Ruth-Ann stirring down the soap as it cooks.

There were other presenters in the soapmaking track that I missed because I slipped out to sit in on a couple sessions in the business track – I wished I could have cloned myself and done both, but I’ll just have to check those out when the virtual area is ready to go! Preston Tillotson of Sudz by Studz rocked my world with his excellent information on how to use Instagram (my username is “greatcakesoap” – seriously, go find me!), and I also learned all about the 7 Deadly Sins of Wholesale from Lela Barker of Lucky Break Consulting.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting two other Challenge Club members while I was there (hey Kelly and MaryLou!) and visiting with other soapmakers, both local and nearly local. Overall, it was an amazing event and I hope we get to do it again sometime…

Challenge Club Landscape Soap Winners!

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

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

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

Claudia's ocean soap, scented with Abalone & Sea

Claudia’s ocean soap, scented with Abalone & Sea

Her inspiration photo:

Claudia-insipration

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

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

Claire's lavender field soap

Claire’s lavender field soap

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

Amy's Birch Tree soap, scented with Oakmoss Sandalwood

Amy’s Birch Tree soap, scented with Oakmoss Sandalwood

Her inspiration photo:

amyb-inspiration

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

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

Evening Sunset by Tatiana

Evening Sunset by Tatiana

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

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

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

Here is the soap I made for the video tutorial:

Grapefruit Ginger soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Grapefruit Ginger soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

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

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon

Dessert soaps by Cee Gordon

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

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

Purple Mangosteen soap by Great Cakes Soapworks, circa 2012

Purple Mangosteen soap by Great Cakes Soapworks, circa 2012

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

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

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More Swatch Mania! Review and Giveaway

Me and Kenna

Me and Kenna

Many of you know my good friend Kenna from Modern Soapmaking. She likes to call other people rock stars, but she’s about as rock star as they come! She’s super smart, a talented soapmaker and formulator, as well as a savvy business owner. Fortunately she likes to share all that talent and knowledge as often as she can. Even if you just join her Modern Soapmaking newsletter list you’ll gain a ton of great information. I’ll give you a chance to do that here in a minute. First, I need to tell you about her latest resource, More Swatch Mania! that she just released earlier today.

Kenna has gotten her hands on literally hundreds of different colorants for cold-process soap and tested them so the rest of us don’t have to! Her pre-cursor to More Swatch Mania! was the original Swatch Mania! which includes: 52 swatches and examples of various micas, 12 swatches and examples of various pigments, 16 swatches and examples of various clays, 7 swatches and examples of various seeds, 48 swatches and examples of various natural colorants, plus a full swatch making tutorial with instructions and formula used in swatching all of these colorants. These colorants come from suppliers such as The Conservatorie, Brambleberry, Nurture Soap Supplies, and New Directions Aromatics.

For More Swatch Mania! she has tested an additional 71 swatches of various micas, 24 swatches of synthetic colorants, 38 swatches of natural colorants, plus a brief overview of each colorant type and how to use them in soapmaking. New colorants from suppliers such as Mad Oils and Aroma Haven/Rustic Escentuals plus many others are included in this publication.

Here’s a little example for you:

Sneak Peek!

Sneak Peek!

What I love about More Swatch Mania! is that I get to see how so many colorants will behave before I invest my money. Not every supplier can show you exactly how each of their colorants will look in cold-process soap. Especially all the seeds and botanicals! As the trend to go natural continues, I am continually looking for new ways to color my soap naturally. Honestly, I haven’t ventured very far because I know how fragile most of the natural colorants can be and I want colors that will hold up over time. After checking out More Swatch Mania! the creative juices are definitely flowing…

I’m sure you would like an opportunity to acquire this handy-dandy resource as well. It will be available to the public for purchase just until the end of the month (January 31, 2015) HERE. After that, it will only be available to Soap Mastery Club Members or those with an All Access Pass to Modern Soapmaking.

HOWEVER, Kenna is also graciously providing one of my readers with their very own copy! Want to enter to win the giveaway? Leave a comment below letting me know what your current favorite soap colorants are and why. Enter by January 15, 2015 at 10pm CST. One entry per person.

Comments are now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated!!

Challenge Club Combing Swirl Winners!

For the November Challenge Club, the theme was combing techniques. Basically any design you could think of that involved pulling a comb through soap was fair game! The most common design of this type is the peacock swirl which became quite popular in the last couple years. It was the first technique we did as a Challenge Club in May 2013. This time, I introduced a new technique called the serpentine swirl, and you will see that one of our finalists did a fine job on that one!

Huge thanks to Brambleberry and Custom Soap Stamps for sponsoring the Challenge Club this month! Brambleberry is providing a fabulous soap combing tool set that includes two combs, two wide-mouth squeeze bottles, and their silicone tool set for our grand prize winner, PLUS the Sponsor’s Choice prize that I will show you in just a bit. Custom Soap Stamps is providing a standard 3″ x 2″ custom soap stamp! And now, for our winners:

Congratulations to Jodi of Lakehurst Farms!! She is our grand prize winner with her completely gorgeous French curl swirled soap:

French curl swirl, scented with Energy, by Jodi of Lakehurst Farms

French curl swirl, scented with Energy, by Jodi of Lakehurst Farms

Second place goes to Amy B. of Middleton, Wisconsin with her unique DNA helix swirl. This is actually just one layer of a four-layered soap where each layer was swirled separately! Click on the photo to see the rest of the swirls:

Four-layer soap, scented with Lavender Forest, by Amy B.

Four-layer soap, scented with Lavender Forest, by Amy B.

In third place we have Veronica of Sweet Vivi’s Bath and Body Products in Port St Lucie, Florida with a beautiful serpentine swirled soap in red, white, pink and green:

Serpentine Swirl soap, scented with Cranberry Chutney by Sweet Vivi's Bath and Body Products

Serpentine Swirl soap, scented with Cranberry Chutney by Sweet Vivi’s Bath and Body Products

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

And finally, I get to announce our Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Tanya of Stonesfield Soaps in the United Kingdom! Tanya created a beautiful peacock swirl, a technique she has definitely mastered, and ironically she was our grand prize winner when we had the first Peacock Swirl Challenge in May 2013! Here’s her “Bergander” soap:

Peacock Swirl soap, scented with lavender, bergamot, and cedarwood by Stonesfield Soap

Peacock Swirl soap, scented with lavender, bergamot, and cedarwood by Stonesfield Soap

Since Tanya is outside the U.S., she will receive a gift certificate from Brambleberry for the amount of the prize package shown below:

Sponsor's Choice prize package from Brambleberry

Sponsor’s Choice prize package from Brambleberry

I love that each of the winners used a different combing technique! Just shows how versatile this technique can be! Want to see even more combing technque soaps? Check out the rest of the entries for the challenge HERE. The tutorial for the combing techniques will be available soon for all who receive notifications about the Soap Challenge Club. (You can sign up at the end of this post.)

The December Challenge Club will feature spoon swirls! This is a super simple technique where you can layer or drop swirl the soap in the mold, then use a spoon to stir up the soap to create unique swirls.

Our sponsor for the December Challenge Club is Majestic Mountain Sage! They sponsored last December as well, and since Christmas is Tina’s favorite holiday, she likes to be generous with her prize packages. The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift certificate, second and third place AND the sponsor’s choice winner will each receive an Amazing Dozen set.

Registration opens Monday, November 24th, and the link-up to enter your soap in the challenge will open on December 10th. Sign up now get a notification via email as soon as registration is available, and the tutorial for the combing techniques as well:

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