Back to Basics Winners

December 2021 Soap Challenge

For the December challenge, our members were given the task to get back to basics and create smooth soaps, free from air bubbles, glycerin rivers, stearic spots, unmixed colorants, and brittle edges.  They were provided with a six-color palette and each competitive category had to use a certain number of colors from that palette for their entry.  Instead of a non-competitive bonus category, we had a winners category that only those who have placed in the top three in the challenges this year could compete in.  They had to use all six colors.  The experienced category had to use four or more, and the beginner category had to use two or more.  

Additionally, the challenge was to create crisp lines between the colors and to match the colors from the color palette as closely as possible – that is, each person could match the colors they could see whether printed or on a screen.  Entries could include a copy of the color palette to show how closely the soaps match if desired.

The challenge was completely blind this month so that no one was able to share anything about their soaps anywhere on the internet until after the winners are announced.  None of the photos will be linked to social media posts, but if you search #soapchallengereveal, you can find out more information about the soaps from this month’s challenge.  The names were not attached to the entries during voting either, but you’ll find them on the entries linked to this post if you click on the “Read More” links.

Our sponsor this month is Majestic Mountain Sage, a woman and family-owned and operated, full-service supplier of raw materials to the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry. Founded in 1996, they have been a resource to makers by providing quality ingredients, technical support, and rapid order processing.  MMS was one of the original sponsors when I first started the Soap Challenge Club in 2013 and have continued to support the Club by sponsoring at least once a year.  They are providing gift certificate prizes for the beginner and experienced categories, including the top three voted winners and two Sponsor’s Choice winners.

Since this is the first time we have had a winners category, I decided to sponsor this category myself, with just one overall winner who will receive free registration to all of the challenges in 2022!  I am very excited to announce that winner is….

Linda Irawan of Moia Soaps in Indonesia!!!  She won grand prize in both the August and October challenges this year as well.  Linda’s soap is called Chasing Colors.  It is a beautifully smooth soap with excellent lines and wonderful color matching.  The design is complex and interesting:

Chasing Colors by Moia Soap

Linda wins free registration to all the challenges in 2022!  I look forward to seeing what she will create!  (There’s another special announcement with her name on it in the Upcoming Challenges…)

Please check out the rest of the entries for the Winners category HERE.  They are amazing!!

Let’s take a look at the winners from the experienced category next.  I am very pleased to announce the grand prize winner is Sara Golding of Sunny Girl Sundries in Oklahoma!  Sara is a long-time member and supporter of the Club, and has placed in the top three several times, but this is her first time winning grand prize!!  Her soap this month is “Shadow Box” – a beautiful 3D soap made from hand-cut shapes using all six colors from the color palette:

Shadow Box by Sunny Girl Sundries

Sara’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage.  Congratulations!!

Second place goes to Elaina Romero of SoapsbyElaina in Canada for her artistic soap titled “Feeling Blue.”  She has also used all six colors from the provided palette to create her masterpiece:

Feeling Blue by SoapsbyElaina

Elaina is new to the Club since August this year.  She wins a $35 gift certificate from The Sage – way to go!

In third place we have Yvonne Liao of Oh My Cattles in Taiwan.  She has been participating in the Club for several years and always creates excellent soaps!  Her soap has incredibly crisp lines between the six colors and is beautifully smooth and creamy:

Pencil Soaps by Oh My Cattles

Wonderful job, Yvonne!!  She wins a $25 gift certificate from The Sage!  

Andee and Denise have chosen two Sponsor’s Choice winners from the experienced category.  Andee’s choice is Birthday Party by Rebecca Kusza in Indiana.  She says, “Wow! I’m so impressed that you took the time to make the layers of striped soap and roll the balls of soap dough. The colors and smooth texture were fantastic. This soap captures the giggles and joy of parties around the world!”

Birthday Party by Rebecca Kusza

Excellent work, Rebecca!  She wins a $20 gift certificate from The Sage – woo hoo!

Denise’s choice is Southwestern Motif by Rachel Casamassa of Soapothecary in California.  She says, “This design was daring and executed beautifully to keep the colors from blending. We admire the clear delineation of each color, the overall smoothness of the soap, and the clear command the maker has of the basics of soapmaking.”

Southwestern Motif by Soapothecary

Great job, Rachel!  She wins also wins a $20 gift certificate from the Sage.

Recognition Awards for the experienced category are next.  The Best Technique award is for the soap that is the most smooth and has the most crisp lines between colors.  After studying the entries, my determination is that Ben Frazer in the UK has done the best job of this with his geometric design soap called Boxed:

Boxed by Ben Frazer

The colors and shapes are very consistent, and the design is quite complex!  Well done, Ben!

The Best Use of Color Award is for an entry with smooth, well-mixed colors, and in this case, those that match the color palette best.  My choice for this award is Dancing Blindly by Elena Toutountzi of Lela’s Handmade Artisan Soaps in Greece.  This soap fits all of the criteria for this award:

Dancing Blindly by Lela’s Handmade Artisan Soaps

Not only are the colors beautiful, but they also have such nice, crisp lines between them!

The Best Presentation Award is for an entry with fantastic photography and well displayed soaps.  I love Van Life by Katie Ward by Little Bird Soap Co in Minnesota because of the interesting way the lines of the soap are put together!  By alternating between the face and sides of the soaps, we get a sense of the lines moving across them.  It is also well-focused and lit, without shadows or over exposure.

Van Life by Little Bird Soap Co

The soaps are centered in the photo and have been beautifully cut and beveled.  The dark background really makes the soaps pop!

Please check out the rest of the entries in the Experienced category HERE.

For the beginner category, our grand prize winner is Sam James in the US!  She describes her entry titled “Day of Peace” with the peace symbol representing the sun from day to evening, surrounded by the day and evening sky.  It’s a very impressive embed work of art:

Day of Peace by Sam James

Sam wins a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – way to go!!  This is excellent qualify of work as a beginner! 

Second place in the beginner category goes to Joelle Baeke in Australia for her Rustic Rainbow soaps, made with cylindrical embeds.  The texture of the soap is incredibly smooth and the lines are excellent:

Rustic Rainbows by Joelle Baeke

Joelle wins a $35 gift certificate from The Sage – how cool is that?  Notice how all six colors are represented in this fun soap!

In third place we have Candace Ford in Canada who created a gorgeous pointy layered soap called Solstice. 


Solstice by Candace Ford

Candace’s prize is a $25 gift certificate from The Sage!  Great job!

Andee and Denise picked two winners for their Sponsor’s Choice prizes in the beginner category as well.  Andee’s choice for this category is Bathing Beauty by Blair Banks in Maryland.  She says, “I found this soap to be cheerful and imaginative. The smooth texture captures the suggestion of vintage beaches and the polka dots on the top were such a fun addition! Great job at capturing the colors and keeping the colors separate and flowing together!”

Bathing Beauty by Blair Banks

Blair wins a $20 gift certificate from The Sage – hooray!  She describes her soap as a vintage shoreline postcard that gives the suggestion of a beach without being a literal landscape. The orange polka dots are a cheeky nod to an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini!

Denise’s choice in the beginner category is Winter Solstice by Heidi Glazier in Tennessee.  Her observations about this soap: “We were so impressed with the crisp lines in the hanger swirl and layers. The maker did a great job creating a smooth bar without air bubbles! And though the beginners did not have to use all the colors, these bars did incorporate them all with very good matching.”

Winter Solstice by Heidi Glazier

Heidi also wins a $20 gift certificate from The Sage!  She attempted diagonal layers and a swirl controlling the depth of two hanger swirls with excellent results.

Now we get to do Recognition Awards for the beginner category!  Again I studied the entries for the Best Technique and found “It’s a Mad World” by Stefani Spencer in Idaho to be the best example.  Other than a few minor bits of colorant, this soap is incredibly smooth and the lines of color are exceptionally crisp:

It’s a Mad World by Stefani Spencer

Stefani did a great job using five out of the six colors as well!  Excellent angled layers.

Next is the Best Use of Color Award, and I have chosen Diversity United by Amanda Johnson to receive this award.  Not only did she match all six colors beautifully, but symbolically as well.  Amanda says, “While the colors in the soap are separate, small bits of neighboring colors have made their way into the heart of another. These different colors, while they remain unique, they can never again be truly separated. Each culture we visit and every unique individual we sit and speak with will leave their own small drop of color in us and we will deposit a bit of ourselves in them. While we may remain different, there is beauty in our diversity and our ability to influence those around us.”

Diversity United by Amanda Johnson

What an incredible tribute to the state of our world and our ability to be a positive influence in it!

For the Best Presentation award, I’ve chosen “Frosty Nights” by Orah Lemer in Israel.  I love seeing the front soap in perfect focus, with a slow fade to the back.  The background is blurred and inobtrusive, giving the soaps center stage and ideal lighting.

Frosty Nights by Orah Lemer

Additionally, Orah has taken some risk with her design by attempting several different techniques for the first time.  Well done!

Please check out the rest of the entries for the Beginner category HERE.

I have a wonderful line-up of new challenges ready for you in 2022!  Registration will open on Monday, January 3rd.   We’ll be starting out with Hanger Swirls sponsored by Nurture Soap!  Here’s the soap I made for the video tutorial:

Hanger swirl soap by Amy Warden

You’ll have the option to sign up for January only, the next four months, or the entire year!  Check out the Upcoming Challenges page for more info and to sign up for notifications.  I hope you’ll join us!