Black Tie Affair Winners

We did a themed challenge called “Black Tie Affair” to close out 2019. Members were asked to create soaps made with black and white in the majority of the soap with only one accent color. Design choice was up to each person, but the advanced category had to use at least two different techniques and ombre their accent color from light to dark or dark to light.

Our fabulous sponsor is Majestic Mountain Sage who is providing gift certificate prizes to the top three voted winners plus a Sponsor’s Choice winner in each category, and a few other Secret Santa gift prizes!! The Sage has been in business since 1996(!) as a full service supplier of raw materials to the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry. They also provide research and consulting services, for anyone needing help in selecting a product or in finding a unique ingredient or formulation. I can attest that they are highly knowledgable!

The winners in the advanced category were so tight that one hour before voting closed, the top 3 were in a tie!! In other words, any one of these top 3 could have taken home the grand prize. You’ll see why in just a moment!

Grand prize officially goes to Katja Schneider in Germany for her absolutely gorgeous Zebra Eyes soap! She did such an excellent job with the distinctive black and white portions as well as the beautiful blue ombre:

Zebra Eyes by Katja Schneider

Katja wins a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – congratulations!! Click on the photo to see her Instagram post with more information about how she made this wonderful soap.

In second place, by just one vote, is Christina Biehl in Germany with her Eye of Geometric soap! Christina’s soap also displays excellent contrast between the black and white, crisp lines, and a fantastic purple ombre element:

Eye of Geometric by Christina Biehl

Christina wins a $35 gift certificate from The Sage! Photo not linked.

In third place, also by one vote, we have Lisa Cunningham in the UK who has re-created the famous painting “The Scream” in her soap. The majority of the design actually goes all the way through the soap!

The Scream by Lisa Cunningham

I also awarded Lisa’s entry with the Best Technique award, as it is one of the most amazing soap endeavors I have seen! Just click on the photo to see Lisa’s video of the making of this incredible soap. She also wins a $25 gift certificate from The Sage – woo hoo!

The Sponsor’s Choice award for the advanced category goes to Ainat Cohen in Israel for her fabulous Emerald Seas soap! Andee Howard from Majestic Mountain Sage says, “The bold black and white are a striking contrast to the green pointy ombre. I loved how this one was a beautiful fusion of points and curves. A striking soap!”

Emerald Seas by Ainat Cohen

It’s definitely a stunning soap! Ainat wins a $20 gift certificate from The Sage, and you can click on the photo to see several other soaps that she made on her Instagram post!

The rest of the recognition awards for the advanced category are as follows:

Best Presentation goes to Belinda Williams of Love Your Suds. Belinda’s soap “Winston” is inspired by her newest family member, Sir Winston Fluffington:

Winston by Love Your Suds

I chose this entry to receive the Best Presentation award because Belinda has done a wonderful job of creating a neat appearing soap, and her photo reveals the best aspects of each side of the soap – including the MEOW! stamp on the top of each bar. The soaps are well focused, not distorted or cropped too tight, while the background remains blurred. Be sure to click on the photo to read more about this soap, and see the inspiration behind it on Belinda’s Instagram post.

The Best Use of Color award goes to Leila Hazou of Mad Soaper in Pennsylvania for her soap titled Hyacinthus. In order to qualify for this award, the black and white portions had to be consistent, well contrasted, with no signs of gray (not easy to do when swirling together black & white soap!). Leila’s soap demonstrates outstanding skill in this area, as well as a delightful purple ombre:

Hyacinthus by Mad Soaper

Great job, Leila! You can read more about this soap on Leila’s Instagram post by clicking on the photo.

The Best Soap Newbie award is given to someone who has been making soap for less than a year and has made fewer than 50 batches. I’m always amazed at what newbies can create! This award goes to Liz Irwin in Nevada for her Decadent Swirl soap:

Decadent Swirl by Liz Irwin

Liz combined a variety of techniques for a most delightful soap! I like the contrast of the straight line ombre with the black & white swirls, and the embed in the top is a nice touch as well! Click on the photo to read more about her soap on her Instagram post.

The regular category is just as outstanding as the advanced. You will notice that there is only one accent color, and members were limited to just one or two techniques. This did not diminish the artistry one bit!

Grand Prize for this category goes to Irina Beketova in Texas for her masterpiece titled “Christmas Birds.” What I love most about this soap is the perspective of the birds – not straight on, nor a flat side view, but as if you are looking at them in the wild!

Christmas Birds by Irina Beketova

Irina has combined royal cardinals and stocky bullfinches perching on snowy branches to create the perfect winter scene! I’ve awarded her with the Best Technique award as well for the precision of her work and gorgeous display of style! Her prize is a $50 gift certificate from The Sage – outstanding!! Be sure to click on the photo to read more about this soap and see more photos on her Instagram post.

Second place goes to Debi Olsen in Colorado for her detailed tribute soap to her sweet dog “Bella,” a black and white pup who always wore pink accessories:

Bella by Debi Olsen

Debi combined inlaid designs with a soap dough bow to create this incredibly precise and gorgeous soap. Her prize is a $35 gift certificate from The Sage – yippee!! Debi’s soap photo is also linked to her Instagram post where you can see more photos of her process and of course, the inspiration behind this soap.

In third place we have Sara Golding of Sunflower State Soap in Oklahoma who created a 3D effect with her soap titled “Tumbling Blocks.” Her complex design involved cutting out tiny diamonds of white and honey blush colored soap, and filling in the gaps with the black soap:

Tumbling Blocks by Sunflower State Soap

Congratulations to Sara for winning a $25 gift certificate from The Sage! Check out Sara’s process by clicking on the photo to read more about it on her Instagram post.

Majestic Mountain Sage chose Lisa Gillespie of Courageous Soap in Colorado for the Sponsor’s Choice award in the regular category. Andee says, “Wow! I love how this soap captured the aspen trees and blue skies of the Rocky Mountains. The holes and striping are very accurate of the aspen trees I’ve seen. Just looking at this soap had me teleported out of my chair and into fond camping memories.”

Forest Breathing by Courageous Soap

Lisa wins a $20 gift certificate from The Sage, and you can click on the photo to see more photos of her process and how she came up with the unique name!

Best Presentation for the regular category goes to Marina Baranov in Kentucky for her soap called “Modern Marble” which is beautifully presented:

Modern Marble by Marina Baranov

This is such a classy photo, with the soaps standing up in a slight semi-circle and a shallow depth of field that keeps the soaps perfectly focused and the background blurred out. The soaps are perfectly cleaned, beveled, and smooth! Well done, Marina! (This photo is not linked.)

The Best Use of Color award goes to 1978 Soap in Taiwan for their distinctive Classic Zebra Soap with Lavender Purple. The clean black and white lines are the perfect contrast for the lavender at the bottom:

Classic Zebra Soap with Lavender Purple by 1978 Soap

Great work!! Be sure to click on the photo to see more about this soap on their Instagram post.

The Best Soap Newbie award for the regular category goes to Carrie Wallace in Canada for her Purple Polka Dot Party soap! She used several different sizes of round column molds to create the polka dots that go all the way through the soap, and that stamp on top is such a neat added touch:

Purple Polka Dot Party by Carrie Wallace

Not only is the soap gorgeous, but the photo is also superb as it shows off the different sides of the soap at various angles. Everything is well-focused, well-lit, and the neutral background shows off the soap beautifully. The photo is linked to Carrie’s Instagram post where you can see more photos of her process.

The rest of the entries are posted in the order they were voted at the bottom of this post. 

Since we have finished out our year of challenges, I know everyone is excited to see what I have planned for 2020! We have a nice long break for the holidays, but I am very excited for the new year!

January’s challenge will be landscape soaps with guest teacher Belinda Williams of Love Your Suds in British Columbia, Canada. She will also be our prize sponsor as well! You may have heard that she has been creating Soap Shapers and custom soap stamps. Belinda is a long-time member of the Soap Challenge Club, and this will be her first time as a guest teacher (and sponsor!). Here is the soap she has created for the video tutorial for the regular category:

Moonrise by Love Your Suds

In February, I am bringing back the Collaborator Challenge! This is a super fun time where members get to teach a family member or friend who has never made soap before to create their entry! My friend Rebble has agreed to do this with me for the tutorial – you will love her!! Instead of regular and advanced categories, you will have two different techniques to choose from. We have a new sponsor for this event: Formulator Sample Shop! They will provide gift certficate prizes for the members, and the Challenge Club will provide equal gift certificate prizes from Amazon for the collaborators.

For March, Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks will be our guest teacher, showing us her Clam Shell technique! Elements Bath & Body will sponsor. More info to follow!

I’ve decided to take a break in April so I can focus on competing in Bloodbath and attending the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild conference in Connecticut! I hope to see many of you there! (They offer scholarships to HSCG members if you would like to apply. Deadline is January 25.)

Registration will open for the January through March challenges on Monday, January 6. If you haven’t signed up for notifications, you can do that HERE.

And now, here are the rest of the entries for December:

Advanced Category Link-Up:

Regular Category Link-Up: