Wednesday, August 21, 2019

August Soap Challenge

This month's soap challenge was to create 3 bars of soap decorated with a technique called brush embroidery. My first inspiration for my project came from the western embroidery on the Nudie suits worn by country western singers like Porter Wagoner. Much of what I liked was far too detailed to put on a small bar of soap with my limited art skills. I also came across pictures of western belt buckles that had imagery I liked.

And of course the coveted 4-H Master Showmanship belt buckle for inspiring the ultimate over the top decorations. 

This is my second time entering the soap challenge and one important thing I learned from the first time I participated was that I would need a lot of practice. I am not one of those people that amazingly get it right the first time. I didn't want to be making loaf after loaf of soap to learn this technique so I decided to make some soap "scratch paper". I cut up some old bars of soap that I had on hand and I also took some trimmings I had accumulated and made a rebatch loaf with a dark color to practice on. I cut really thin slices so I could get as much practice surface as possible. The pieces in the picture below were further cut into thinner slices.
For my first attempt I used the recipe from the tutorial substituting bee's wax for soy wax. This recipe worked well so I stuck with it. I used a piping bag with the tip cut off. I found that as the soap batter thickened, it was hard to get a round line to come out of the bag. The seam in the bag changed the shape of the opening and the soap came out more like a ribbon so for all remaining attempts I used piping tips.  I used mostly Wilton tips number 1 and 2.

I wasn't sure what brush to use so I bought a big variety pack at Michael's plus I already had some. I found that I used quite a variety of brushes for different purposes. Rounder brushes worked well on flowers flatter brushes and tiny brushes worked well on feathers. Flat stiffer brushes worked well to straighten out lines and clean up mistakes.  
Feather practice
Some of my favorite brushes
Lots of practice!
I now have lots of very thin bars of soap with pretty designs on them. In the soap making 101 tutorial  she made thin round bars she called soap cookies. It makes sense to me to make them thin because the design will wash off quickly and the soap will be boring and you will want to hurry up and be done with it so you can break out a brand new pretty bar of soap. I will call my bars soap crackers. I made lots of very nice soap crackers learning how to do this technique.  

I decided not to try multiple colors at this time. I really like the effect of the white on a dark color.  For my final product I made  a loaf of soap colored with indigo and scented with eucalyptus, peppermint and menthol crystals. I took one bar and sliced it thin to give me more "scratch paper" closer to the size and shape of my actual bars. When I beveled the edges, I went over them with a plastic scoop to round them like a fondant on a cake but overall the bars are a bit rough and rustic. I wanted my designs to wrap around the edges like I saw on all the cake pictures.    I also have designs on both the front and back of the bars.            

All set up to work!
The backs of the bars

The first one done!

Overall, I liked the results and this was a fun challenge. I am getting faster with practice which is good because if I ever decide to do this again, I don't think I have the patience to spend hours on just one bar of soap again. I have a large zip lock bag full of left over soap  frosting. Someone said it makes good soap dough. Maybe I will need to go check out that tutorial next...


  1. Excellent soaps, Marian! I would say your practice definitely paid off! The white on dark is quite striking and the patterns look really great! Thank you for sharing all your fantastic tips and what worked and what didn't. I'm really glad my piping recipe worked! :)

  2. This entry is my favourite by FAR, and there are so many amazing soaps. I love the theme, and the intricate details as well as the simplicity of white on a dark background.I'm truly amazed that you have designs on the front and back. Your practice definitely paid off. These are just amazing.

    1. Thank you so much. Just looking at all of the other beautiful entries inspires me to keep working at it. I can't wait for the next challenge!

  3. Love your Western themed soaps! Really amazing designs!Designs on the front and back too, awesome!!

  4. Stunning. Love the attention to detail

  5. I love the amount of detail you were able to get. These are fantastic.

  6. I love this one! I just love it! it is my favourite one! VERy well done and a great idea!!!
    Best Wishes,
    Eva Gomez

  7. I love all things classic Western! Great idea with the "soap crackers"!
    Beautiful work!

  8. i love this theme that you have chosen. And so many practice, i see you did a great job!! My compliment for those bars <3 By the way the two fathers are also great stuff! Greetings from Bavaria, TINA Traumbubbles

  9. These are so amazing, Marian! I love your theme, and each soap is a beautiful work of art.

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