April Challenge Winners

I wasn’t going to have a challenge in April originally because I was planning to be in Hartford, Connecticut to compete in Bloodbath and attend the HSCG conference. Thanks to the world-wide coronavirus quarantine, those plans were canceled and the Challenge Club members were begging for something to do while either stuck at home or as a distraction from their front-line jobs. After surveying members for their choice of technique from one of our previous challenges, we landed on the Tall & Skinny Shimmy. This challenge was originally done in November 2015 with guest teacher Tatiana Serko of Creative Soaps by Steso. We used her tutorial for the regular category, and I adapted a tutorial that I had done for an Ombre challenge in 2017 for the advanced category.

I asked Custom Craft Tools if they would be a last-minute sponsor, and they were very happy to do it! Tall & skinny molds may not have been their best seller previously, but I think they’ve made quite a few since this month’s challenge started! They make all kinds of high-quality soapmaking tools in their shop in Charleston, South Carolina. We are very grateful for their generous gift certificate prizes, and a 10% discount code for everyone who signed up to participate!

The goal of the Tall & Skinny Shimmy is to keep the batter fluid throughout the pour so that a curvy shimmy will appear up the middle of the soap. This requires a high level of control of the trace (or thickness) of the batter. For the advanced category, members had to do at least three pours for each of the seven segments in their soap.

Congratulations to our grand prize winner, Katja Schneider in Germany who created a stunning shimmy soap called Vibrant April. The combination of the bright colors and ombre pattern really makes this soap stand out:

Vibrant April by Katja Schneider

Katja wins a $100 gift certificate from Custom Craft Tools – oh wow! The photo is linked to her Instagram post if you’d like to take a look.

Second place goes to Lisa Cunningham of I Dream in Soap in the UK. She made a unique design called Inside the Beehive, with incredible soapy bee embeds incorporated into the shimmy:

Inside the Beehive by I Dream in Soap

Lisa’s prize is a $75 gift certificate from our sponsor – how exciting!! The photo is linked to an Instagram post with more information about how she made the soap, including a link to a YouTube video if you’d like to watch the entire process.

In third place we have Christina Biehl in Germany with her 3D optical illusion soap called Outlander. She’s chosen a black outline as well as a smaller, lighter colored pour in each segment to create this special effect:

Outlander by Christina Biehl

Christina wins a $50 gift certificate from Custom Craft Tools, which is fantastic! She made multiple attempts with this technique, and they are documented on her Instagram post which is linked to the photo above. Check it out!

Custom Craft Tools chose Proud as a Peacock by Amy Bautista of Elysian Acres Soap in Colorado for their Sponsor’s Choice award in the advanced category. Alex says, “There is something magical about this shimmy soap. Like something is hidden behind those 3D peacock ‘scales'” It’s definitely a gorgeous soap!

Proud as a Peacock by Amy Bautista

Amy wins a generous $100 gift certificate – incredible! Be sure to click on the photo to see her inspiration photo and read more information about this soap on her Facebook post!

I’ve also chosen several entries to receive recognition awards in the advanced category. Best Technique goes to Jamie Reddinger of Lathering Lotus in Pennsylvania for her Sangria Sunrise soap. I love how fluid and smooth the soap batter is and the shimmy lines are so consistent!  Getting consistent shimmy lines is more difficult in the advanced category due to the multiple pours as different colorants can affect the rate that the batter thickens.

Sangria Sunrise by Lathering Lotus

The Best Presentation Award goes to Holly Shelton of Kapia Mera Soap Co.  in Tennessee. Holly has done such an excellent job of displaying her soaps for the photo. I love the asymmetrical look with a few of the soaps stacked, and the lightly marbled background that shows off the colorful soaps:

Skinny Shimmy 2020 by Kapia Mera Soap Co.

We get to see one front and center soap, with the rest showing off their shimmies and one showing off the top design. The photo is well-lit and focused. Be sure to click on it to read more about how Holly made her soap on her blog post that also includes a video link.

The Best Use of Color award goes to Juanita Serrano of Juanderous in Australia for her brightly colored soap called Hope. The colors certainly reflect her mood and what we all wish for the future in this time of crisis:

Hope by Juanderous

Juanita did an incredible job of mixing her colors for a smooth, uniform result. I love how they move from dark purple to pink, orange, and finally yellow! Click on the photo to see her post on Facebook that includes her other two attempts with this technique.

Finally, the Best Soap Newbie award goes to someone who has made fewer than 50 batches and has been making soap for less than a year. I love to see soap newbies attempt the advanced version of the challenge – especially when they do such a great job of it! This month the award goes to Angela Lussow in Wisconsin for her soap called Le Vaudou Violet:

Le Vaudou Violet

Can you believe this was the third cold process soap she has ever made?? I’m absolutely positive my third batch looked nothing like this! Angela made two batches for the challenge, and you can see the other one on her Instagram post if you click on the photo.

Let’s take a look at the winners from the regular category next! This category required just one pour for each segment. Members could mix colors in their pot before pouring into the mold if they wished, and you’ll see a couple examples of that.

Congratulations to the grand prize winner in the regular category, 1978 Soap in Taiwan! They have created such a beautiful, colorful shimmy design called Spring Festival:

Spring Festival by 1978 Soap

1978 Soap wins a $100 gift certificate from Custom Craft Tools – hooray!! You can click on the photo to see the Instagram post about this soap.

Second place goes to Tatiana Yaksick in California with this super colorful swirly shimmy design, aptly named Favourite. As mentioned above, Tatiana used in-the-pot swirls to create the effect:

Favourite by Tatiana Yaksick

Tatiana’s prize is a $75 gift certificate from Custom Craft Tools – woo hoo!! Be sure to click on the photo to see her Instagram post with more photos and information about this soap.

Third place goes to Sonya Mulholland in the UK. Sonya’s Groovy Baby! soap turned out amazing with the ombre purple colors and one bright turquoise segment to break up the pattern:

Groovy Baby! by Sonya Mulholland

Sonya wins a $50 gift certificate from our sponsor – so awesome! She has written up a blog post to go with her entry that includes information about this soap, as well as her report from last month’s challenge. You’ll find it by clicking on the photo of her soap, of course!

Custom Craft Tools has chosen Pocket Full of Posies by Jill Crane of Little Lather Shack in Texas for their Sponsor’s Choice award in the regular category. Alex says, “Love this combination of colors and super crisp shimmy lines! The blue and orange are meant to shimmy-shine together!” (Can you see the in-the-pot swirls in the yellow segments?)

Pocket Full of Posies by Little Lather Shack

Jill wins a $100 gift certificate with this recognition from Custom Craft Tools – isn’t that fantastic? She made three other attempts as well which are part of the Instagram post that is linked to the photo.

And now, the recognition awards for the regular category! The Best Technique award goes to Marty Johnson in Minnesota for her perfect shimmy soap called Joy. I’m completely impressed by the smooth, fluid batter and consistent shimmy line that runs straight up the middle of her soap:

Joy by Marty Johnson

Marty claims it took her several attempts to get this result. You can see why she named it Joy if you click on the photo and read the caption on her Instagram post.

I’ve chosen Marina Baranov in Kentucky to receive the Best Presentation award. She didn’t get the elusive shimmy on her soap, but it’s still presented in the best way possible:

Butterfly Garden by Marina Baranov

The colors are very vibrant, all the edges are smooth, and the tops are embellished with beautiful rose with leaf designs. Each of the soaps is well-lit and focused, while the background fades into the distance. Feel free to click on the photo to read more about Marina’s soap and what she learned on her Instagram post.

Best Use of Color goes to Gretchen Riley by Life of Riley Farm in Missouri for her Grapefruit Shimmy soap. I just love the different pink and orange tones that represent the grapefruit scent! They are bright, well contrasted, and uniform.

Grapefruit Shimmy by Life of Riley Farm

It’s a beautiful shimmy too! The photo is linked to Gretchen’s Instagram post with more information about this soap as well as several other attempts she made.

Last, but certainly not least, the Best Soap Newbie award goes to Jazzy Torres in California for That 70’s Soap. Her technique and colors are spot on! In fact, out of 81 entries in the regular category, she placed 7th!

That 70’s Soap by Jazzy Torres

Jazzy says, “I made my first bar of soap EVER in Nov 2019, and I really doubt that I’d feel as confident a soapmaker without these challenges. The community that’s built around this has been instrumental in my growth in this art.” Love that!! You can click on the photo to see more photos and information about her soap on her Instagram post.

We will be taking a break from the challenges next month as I will be having a bilateral mastectomy on May 12th. I appreciate your prayers for a successful surgery and quick recovery! You can follow my breast cancer story on my personal blog if you wish. I will continue to post updates there. My plan is to be able to resume the challenges in June, so make sure you are signed up for notifications so you don’t miss out!

And now here are the rest of the entries for April, in the order they were voted:

Advanced Category:

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Regular Category:

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