Announcing the Winners of the Soap Dough Challenge!

What is soap dough, you ask? It’s a specially formulated cold process soap recipe that starts out moldable, but then hardens like regular soap. It gives endless possibilities for those who enjoy sculpting projects as it can behave similarly to polymer clay. Our guest teacher for this technique was Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso. She shared her special recipe with us and showed us how easy it is to mold soap into an amazing dragon eye! Members were given the task of starting with a “bar” of cold process soap, and embellishing or embedding it with soap dough. The soap did not need to be practical to use, however, and members could choose to use small non-soap embellishments also. The results are absolutely astounding!! The challenge was divided into two categories again this month: juried and voted.

Members who wished to learn a new technique and have some fun, and/or may be new to soapmaking were encouraged to enter the voted category. All of our members were eligible to vote for the winners in this category, except for the Sponsor’s Choice winner. Lovin Soap is our incredible sponsor in this category. They have a multitude of resources for soapmakers, from recipes and tutorials to business information.

Members who wished to be pushed to their maximum potential, possibly with aspirations to improve or begin online selling were encouraged to participate in the juried category. A panel of four jury members decided the winners for this category, including our guest teacher Tatiana Serko, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking, and myself. Each jury member chose their top 15 picks and scored each entry on a scale of 1-10 on each of the following criteria: technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, presentation, and overall aesthetics. Seven categories with a maximum score of 10 from each of the four jury members would give a perfect 280 points. The scores from each jury member were added together to see who the top three winners would be. Our wonderful sponsor for this category is Nature’s Garden, and they chose a Sponsor’s Choice winner as well. In addition to many other wonderful supplies for soapmakers, Nature’s Garden is one of the premiere suppliers of fragrances, with more than 800 unique, concentrated scents!

Let’s start with the winners from the juried category. The jury members agree this was the most difficult time we’ve ever had trying to decide the winners. The creativity and presentation of these soaps is top notch!

The grand prize goes to Linda Irawan of Moia Soap in Indonesia with 243 points! Linda was the first place winner in the voted category last month, and now she has proven her skills in the juried category as well. Her peacock soap is completely breathtaking in its beauty. Can you believe this is her first time working with soap dough? The tail feathers were created with the “caning” technique used by polymer clay artists:

The Peacock by Moia Soap

Linda’s prize is a $100 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Congratulations on a job well done! Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to see more photos of her soap on Instagram, including some in process.

Our second place winner is Lyubov Evteeva in Russia with 242 points (very close to first!). This is her second time participating in the challenges, and her first time to place in the top 3. The scale of her soap dough creation is what is most stunning about her work. She had to use a magnifying glass to accomplish it! Her soap, “In heaven from happiness”, is a replica of artwork by Mary Zherdeva:

In heaven from happiness by Lyubov Evteeva

Congratulations to Lyubov for winning a $75 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden! Click on the photo of her soap to read her blog post about how she made the soap and to see the inspiration behind it.

Third place goes to Nadezhda Uskova of Master Soap in Russia with 234 points. This is her first time participating in the Soap Challenge Club, but not her first time creating with soap dough. However, the subject of her masterpiece was something completely different from anything she has attempted before. An elf baby!! Her work was also inspired by another artist, sculptor Diana Guelinckx De Becker. Again, the details and scale of her creation is most impressive:

Elf baby soap by Master Soap

Nadezhda wins a $50 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden for her fantastic work! She has written a blog post about her process which you can read by clicking on the photo of her soap.

Finally, Deborah Ward of Nature’s Garden has chosen Erin Reynolds of Raven and Rain Soap Co. in Oregon to receive the Sponsor’s Choice prize for her Bathtime Fun with Rubber Ducky soap! This is Erin’s first time participating in a challenge. Deborah says, “Looks just like a real bath tub, and the little ducky adds an extra touch of cuteness!”

Bathtime Fun with Rubber Ducky by Raven and Rain Soap Co.

Erin’s prize is a $25 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden – woo hoo! Be sure to click on her photo to read more about her soap on her Facebook page.

The rest of the juried entries can be found HERE, with all of the top 10 entries posted in order.

For the voted category, there are some equally amazing entries also! Grand prize goes to Julie Franson of Cold Pocket Farm in Idaho! Julie has been a member of the Challenge Club for quite some time but this is her first time winning a prize for her work – and her first time playing with soap dough. Her subject of choice is a beautiful horned owl head with glass eyes:

Owl of Soap “Clay” by Cold Pocket Farm

Congratulations to Julie for winning a $100 gift certificate from Lovin Soap! If you click on the photo of her soap, you can see more photos of her process on her blog post.

In second place we have Irina Bukhanova in New York, another first time participant with an elegant peacock soap. Her soap proudly displays a colorful bird with multi-layered tail feathers and detailed flowers on the breast:

Peacock soap by Irina

Irina wins a $75 gift certificate from Lovin Soap – woo hoo!

Our third place winner is Ronda Scorpio (Soap by Kick it Up a Notch) in Canada! Ronda is new to the Challenge Club, but certainly not new to soap sculpting! She has created her own play dough soap recipe and hosts a Facebook group dedicated to the craft. Her prize-winning entry features the endearing characters Winnie the Pooh and Piglet. She calls it “Hunny Log”:

Hunny Log soap by Kick it Up a Notch

Ronda’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Lovin Soap. Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to see the YouTube video she put together.

The Sponsor’s Choice winner for the voted category is Yvonne Pedersen of Såpe Conditoriet in Norway! Yvonne is a long-time member of the Challenge Club and this is her second time to win a Sponsor’s Choice prize. (She’s been in the top 3 twice as well.) Amanda Gail chose her Soap Cottage because as she says, “This soap is adorable! I love the color scheme with the varied pinks on the yellow base. The flowers, though simple, are quite stunning when all assembled on the soap. The detail and texture on the door, window and roof really complete the piece. And of course the little bird up top is adorable! Great job!”

Soap Cottage by Såpe Conditoriet

Yvonne wins a $25 gift certificate from Lovin Soap. Her write-up about her Soap Cottage is great – click on the photo to read her blog post!

You’ll find the rest of the entries for the voted category HERE.

I hope you’re excited for the June challenge! We are doing Ombre Techniques. Here is the soap I created for the video tutorial:

Ombre soap by Amy Warden

Registration will open Monday, June 5th for this challenge. We will have juried and voted categories once again. Click on the photo for more information about our sponsors and prizes!

If you would like to receive a notification as soon as registration opens, sign up here:

Winners of the Tiger Stripe Challenge!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zombré soap by Saponaceous Soap

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

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

Carnivale soap by Liz Greco

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

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

Bengal Tiger Stripe soap by Savie

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

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

BAH Humbug soap by Siennalily Soaps

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

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

Rainbow Tiger Moth soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

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

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

Smokey Bay Leaf soap by Soaps by Sly

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

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

Snowman Bliss Tiger Stripe Soap by Georgia Soap Creations

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

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

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

Orange Soap by Kent Warden

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

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

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

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

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

Butterfly Swirl Winners Announced!

The butterfly swirl challenge was pretty incredible! We had 154 members from all over the world this month, and many of them created several batches of soap to get the best possible butterfly swirl. Everyone’s hard work paid off, because I’ve never seen so many beautiful butterflies!! Even though not everyone chose to enter their soap, it was still a difficult task to choose who to vote for, as there were 90 total entries! I say that, but I never actually do the voting, so in an attempt to make it a little easier on everyone, I gave all the members five votes instead of the usual three.

I am so grateful to Nurture Soap Supplies for sponsoring the challenge this month! They are providing 65 different mica samples (or $100 gift certificate) to our grand prize winner, as well as their basic 2.5 lb. soap mold with silicone liner to the Sponsor’s Choice winner. I am also grateful to Zahida of Handmade in Florida for sharing this incredible technique with all of us!

And now, for the announcements you’ve been waiting for!

The grand prize winner created this absolutely stunning butterfly swirl soap:

Butterfly Swirl soap

Butterfly Swirl soap

It’s so unique with the black lines and almost watercolor-like effect; nothing like any of the other entries! Also unique to this soap is the creator who wishes to remain anonymous. So congratulations, and thank you so much for sharing your beautiful soap!

In second place, we have Maria from Sabun Market in Guatemala who entered this amazing butterfly swirl soap:

Midnight Pomegranate butterfly swirl by Sabun Market

Midnight Pomegranate butterfly swirl by Sabun Market

The black background really sets off the swirls beautifully and you can see the micas really sparkle. The butterfly seems to “pop” out of the soap!

Third place goes to Melinda in Joshua, Texas with her spectacular four-bar butterfly swirl soap:

Spearmint & Eucalyptus Butterfly swirl by Melinda

Spearmint & Eucalyptus Butterfly swirl by Melinda

You can click on her photo to read a lovely description of how she came up with her design and her personal thoughts behind the Challenge Club and why she chooses to participate. My favorite part about her soap is how the colors all marble together so beautifully!

Huge congrats to the second and third place winners!! They will both receive free registration to next month’s Challenge Club! (More info about that below.)

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Claudia in Los Altos, California with her Butterfly Flambe soap:

Butterfly Flambe by Claudia

Butterfly Flambe by Claudia

Claudia was inspired by a t-shirt design with a wolf and flames on it. The colors pretty well capture the colors in the t-shirt as well as the flames! You can click the photo to read more about her inspiration and see more photos of her soaps. Congratulations, Claudia! You did an incredible job with this one!

If you would like to see the other 86 entries, please visit THIS LINK.

For next month, we are doing the DNA/helix swirl! I first saw this technique demonstrated in a log mold by Sabine of Soap Star, and recently one of our Challenge Club members re-created the technique in a slab mold. For the video tutorial, I will demonstrate the technique in the slab mold, but will leave each member to come up with their own take on this design. Here is the soap I made for the tutorial:

DNA/helix swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

DNA/helix swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Nature’s Garden will be our sponsor for February. Grand prize is a $50 gift certificate, and the sponsor’s choice prize is a $25 gift certificate.

Many of the current members purchased the three-month registration that will be good through March. For those who didn’t, registration for this technique will open on Monday. If you’d like to be notified, just click the button below:


Check Out These Spoon Swirls!!

We had 116 soapmakers from all over the world come together for the December Challenge Club! Our technique was the simple spoon swirl which involves pouring various layers of soap, then using a spoon (or chopstick) to fold the soap from bottom to top, creating beautiful swirls! Our sponsor this month was Majestic Mountain Sage. Tina’s favorite holiday is Christmas, so she created some generous prizes for our winners!! Grand prize is a $100 gift certificate! Normally second and third place just receive free registration to the next month’s Challenge Club, but this time they will also receive the Amazing Dozen sampler kit from The Sage – 12 different one-ounce bottles of the winner’s choice of fragrance, essential oil, extract, or flavor oil. The Sponsor’s Choice winner will also receive an Amazing Dozen sampler kit! Thanks so much, Majestic Mountain Sage!!

And now, for our winners:

Congratulations to Milla from Bend, Oregon!! She is a hobby soapmaker, and has entered nearly all of the Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge Clubs, yet this is the first time she has made a top 3 spot. Milla has really created a masterpiece with her pink, black and white spoon swirl soap:

Blackberry Sage spoon swirl soap by Milla

Blackberry Sage spoon swirl soap by Milla

In second place we have Jelena in Quebec, Canada with her beautiful wispy swirled Cherry Blossom soap. Isn’t it gorgeous??

Cherry Blossom spoon swirl soap by Jelena

Cherry Blossom spoon swirl soap by Jelena

Congrats to Claudia in Los Altos, California for her third place finish with this amazing outer space spoon swirl soap! She combined the spoon swirl with in-the-pot swirls and tiny little soap embeds:

Outer space spoon swirl soap by Claudia

Outer space spoon swirl soap by Claudia

And finally, I get to announce our Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Katy in Neoga, Illinois!! Katy is yet another hobby soapmaker and soon-to-be mother of six girls! She has been a member of the Challenge Club nearly every month, and I am excited to show you her Champagne Sugar spoon swirl soap made with real champagne:

Champagne Sugar spoon swirl soap by Katy

Champagne Sugar spoon swirl soap by Katy

I know you’ll want to see the rest of the entries, so I’ve made the link available HERE.

For the January Challenge Club, I will attempt to de-mystify the Butterfly Swirl, originally created by Zahida of Handmade in Florida. Here are the results of my first practice batch:

Butterfly Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Butterfly Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks

Our sponsor for the January Challenge Club is Nurture Soap Supplies! The grand prize winner will receive 65 different mica samples (enough to color 2 pounds of soap each!), and the sponsor’s choice winner will each receive a basic 2.5 pound soap mold with silicone liner.

Once again I will open up the January Challenge Club so that you can register just for that month, or you can register for the next three months. Check out what we have lined up for February and March as well:

The February Challenge will feature the DNA/helix swirl, and the sponsor is Nature’s Garden. They will provide a $50 gift certificate to the grand prize winner, and a $25 gift certificate to the sponsor’s choice winner!

For March, we will revisit landscape soaps, something we haven’t done in quite a long time and always turn out so amazing! We have a new sponsor for March: TKB Trading! Their prize packages will be announced soon.

Registration opens after the holidays – on Monday, January 5th. Sign up now get a notification via email as soon as registration is available, and the tutorial for the spoon swirl as well:


Final Results of the Multi-Colored Gradient Challenge

Congratulations to Julie Ignacio of Little House Homestead Home Made Soap!! She is our grand prize winner for the Multi-Colored Gradient Soap Challenge, and will receive a $50 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!! This is her Werewolf soap which goes from blue to gray to black. Even the moon looks realistic. Isn’t it stunning?

Werewolf Soap by Julie Ignacio

Werewolf Soap by Julie Ignacio

Second and third place are also pretty fabulous! They both receive free registration to next month’s Soap Challenge Club. Cee of Oil & Butter is our second place winner with this beautiful rainbow soap:

Rainbow soap by Cee

Rainbow soap by Cee

And Melinda Wolff of Melinda’s Naturals has come in third with her fall/october themed soap, made with blood orange, patchouli, and cedarwood essential oils:

Fall Soap by Melinda Wolff

Fall Soap by Melinda Wolff

As always, you can view all of the entries for this month’s Soap Challenge Club HERE. Lots of inspiration to be found!

I was going to make the video for the October Challenge today, but got called away to help a friend instead. I will have a separate post as soon as I have photos of next month’s Challenge soap. If you aren’t already on the Soap Challenge Club notification list, please get signed up!