Crazy Layers Winners

December 2022 Soap Challenge

We finished up the 2022 challenges with a Crazy Layer challenge – integrating multiple techniques to create a whimsical design in horizontal layers across the entire width of the soap.  Members were encouraged to try at least one technique they had not tried before.  The results are fantastic!!

Our faithful December sponsor 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 regular and advanced categories, including the top four voted winners, plus two additional Sponsor’s Choice winners in the bonus category.

A few months ago, I switched over to regular and advanced categories instead of beginner and experienced.  In order to qualify for the regular category, you must be fairly new to soapmaking with less than three years experience.  Anyone who has placed in the top three of any of the challenges or has been making soap for more than three years must enter the advanced category.  The only difference in the requirements of the challenge for each category is the number of layers required.  The regular category could only create two or three, and the advanced had to make a minimum of four. 

Starting with the advanced category, I am very pleased to announce the grand prize winner is Lucie Steblova in Czech Republic!  Lucie did an amazing job with each layer, starting with a specialized in-the-pot swirl called the “One Pot Wonder,” followed by ombre, then drop swirls and finally a standard in-the-pot swirl.  Everything came together beautifully in this moody Rainy Sunrise soap:

Rainy Sunrise by Lucie Steblova

Congratulations to Lucie for winning a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage!  For more information about her soap, click on the photo above to see her Instagram post.

In second place by just two votes we have Wan-Ting Gonzalez of Tile Soaps in California.  Wan-Ting also chose a rainy scene for her soap design, and the results are spectacular!  Her four layers include a texturized earthy layer with coffee grounds and walnut hull powder, a thick in-the-pot swirl followed by the suspended mini drops of rain, and a sculpted ombre cloud.  She used green, purple and silver mica pencil lines between layers:

Rainy Day by Tile Soaps

This is Wan-Ting’s one and only attempt for this challenge and she wins a $35 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – way to go!  Click on the photo to read more about her use of fragrance to enhance the design.

In third place by just one vote, we have Sayani Biswas of Cocoon Creations LLC in Texas.   Another stunner, Sayani’s design features a sunset on the beach starting with coffee grounds and walnut hull powder for the sand, a One Pot Wonder swirl for the ocean water, a regular in-the-pot swirl poured in a zigzag for the mountain, and a beautiful ombre for the sunset sky.  

Sunset Across the Seven Seas by Cocoon Creations LLC

Beautiful soaps, Sayani!!  She wins a $25 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage.  Be sure to click on the photo to see more about her soap on her Instagram post.

We have a fourth place winner as well.  Just look at this fantastic soap by Lisa Cunningham of I Dream in Soap in the UK!  She took advantage of the Splash swirl from last month to create jungle grass coming up from the bottom, and carved out a stripey leopard on a limb with a custom scraping tool.  Some drop swirls create the foliage on the tree, and a gorgeous ombre design finishes out the sunset with a glowing sun:

Hanging Out by I Dream in Soap

Outstanding design, Lisa!  She wins a $20 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – woo hoo!  This photo is linked to Lisa’s Instagram post if you’d like to check it out.

Recognition Awards for the advanced category are next.  The Best Technique award is for a soap with five different layers and each technique has been executed with excellence.  Congratulations to Melanie McNiece in Australia for her exceptionally whimsical soap!  She starts with a lovely hanger swirl on the bottom, then light to dark blue ombre, followed by scraped heart shapes textured with poppy seeds, then a One Pot Wonder and finally a Splash swirl!  Each layer is scraped with a different shape and defined by a mica pencil line, while the color palette pulls the whole design together:


Coco Loco by Melanie McNeice

Melanie has consistently produced quality work since joining the Club just a few months ago!  (Photo not linked.)

The Best Use of Color Award is for an entry with smooth, well-mixed colors, and excellent contrast.  I can’t stop looking at this Winter Fantasy soap by Michelle Torres in North Carolina.  She was able to incorporate a gorgeous color palette into every layer and all of them are super smooth and well executed:

Winter Fantasy by Michelle Torres

The complementary colors are so striking and the mica lines help define each layer as well.  Check out Michelle’s Instagram post by clicking on the photo!

The Best Presentation Award is for an entry with well displayed soaps and fantastic photography.  Everyone’s presentation skills are getting better and better in the Club which makes my job very difficult!  My choice for this award is Waves, Mountain, Sky…Hawaii by Carrie Rose of Many Waters Artisan Soap in New Mexico.  My favorite part of this photo is how she captured the waves by presenting a panoramic view.  All other elements are fantastic as well from a technical standpoint: there’s a nice ambient light and the soaps are well focused.

Waves, Mountain, Sky…Hawaii by Many Waters Artisan Soap

The slight semi-circle positioning also gives us some interest rather than placing them straight across.  Excellent job, Carrie!  If you’d like to read more about her entry, her Instagram post is linked to the photo.

For the regular category, our grand prize winner is Melissa Peterson in Washington State!  Although she has only been making soap since January, Melissa has done an outstanding job executing some rather complex techniques, including a double secret feather swirl with confetti soap snow (!) on the bottom layer, a five-color One Pot Wonder to mimic the aurora borealis, and a three-color hanger swirl for the top.

Aurora Borealis by Melissa Peterson

Melissa’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage.  Such a well-deserved win!  Check out her Facebook post with more photos and information by clicking on the photo above.

Second place in the regular category goes to Janelle Sharp in North Carolina for her Rainbow Nebula soaps.  She combined classic rainbow colors for each layer using tiger stripes, color-to-color ombre, and the One Pot Wonder (her favorite technique) to achieve this fantastic design.  I love how she tied the last color of one layer into the first color of the next:

Rainbow Nebula by Janelle Sharp

Janelle wins a $35 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – wonderful work!  Her Instagram post tells her story if you’d like to read it.  Just click on the photo above!

In third place we have Julie M in the UK who also created a lovely rainbow themed soap.  Her soap starts with perfect little cubes of rainbow colored soaps in a white base, followed by an ombre wall pour in each of the rainbow colors, topped with a whimsical in-the-pot rainbow swirl in white.  

Rainbow Love by Julie M

Julie did an amazing job with the variety of techniques!  Her prize is a $25 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – woo hoo!  (Photo not linked.)

Fourth place in the regular category goes to Cecilia Patton in California.  Cecilia unintentionally, but rather successfully, created a cherry tree in her soap when you look at it upside-down!  She has drop swirls with a blue line down the middle that resembles the tree trunk, followed by soap crumbles mixed with bronze and white fresh soap for the cherries, and a whimsical black and white striped layer with hanger swirls.

Cherry Tree of Life by Cecilia Patton

Cecilia wins a $20 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage – hooray!  Click on the photo for more information and photos of her process on her Facebook post about her entry.

Now we get to do Recognition Awards for the regular category!  For Best Technique I kept coming back to Mardi Gras by Jane Hutchinson in Canada.  Even though it’s just a two-layer design, the intricacy of the top layer really intrigues me.  I’m not even sure how it was all placed in the mold, but it looks like a lot of work!  The contrast of the large swirl pattern on the bottom with the tiny swirl on top really works to create interest.

Mardi Gras by Jane Hutchinson

Well done, Jane!  The photo is linked to her Instagram post if you’d like to check it out.

Next is the Best Use of Color Award, and I have chosen Tutti Fruiti by Hayley Moeller in Australia to receive this award.  It’s such a fun, complementary color palette!  I appreciate the subtle ombre of the pink against the kiwi green with black poppy seeds and the rich tones of the swirl on top that brings everything together.  The silver pencil lines create a touch of elegance.

Tutti Fruiti by Hayley Moeller

This is Hayley’s third attempt at her design, and I appreciate her tenacity to solve the issues she encountered in her first two attempts.  You can read more about them on her Facebook post, linked to the photo.

For the Best Presentation award, I’ve chosen Floridan Christmas by Kora Dorcey in Nebraska.  The quality of the photo makes it feel like an artistic still life.  It’s focused so well, I can see every detail in the soaps and almost feel the texture in my hands!  I love how Kora positioned the soaps diagonally with the background at an open angle as well. 

Floridan Christmas by Kora Dorcey

Natural lighting shines without overexposing or creating shadows.  Well done, Kora!  (Photo not linked)

Finally, we have two Sponsor’s Choice winners from the bonus category!  I’ll start this announcement with a message from Andee Howard, owner of Majestic Mountain Sage, to everyone who participated this month: “Wow! When my phone started going crazy with the #soapchallengeclub and @mmtnsage tags from Instagram and Facebook, I was stunned by all the creative soaps you made. I kept reading the rules, and I’m even more impressed by how many of you made your layers different yet dynamic. Supporting the Soap Challenge Club brings our team joy in the deep chaos of the holidays. Thank you for taking the time to participate and reminding us to breathe for a moment. May this challenge help you grow as a soapmaker in 2023.”

The Sage team came together to choose their two winners.  Finalists include Deconstructed Watermelon by Daniela Mills of The Nature in Us in Canada and Ocean Dreams by Irina Beketova of IB Organics in Texas.  Congratulations, ladies!  They both win $20 gift certificates! 

Here’s the feedback from The Sage about Daniela’s entry: “There is something slightly mad-world-esque about this soap. It shouldn’t work, yet, it flows from ombre to chunks to swirls with a smoothness that brings the golden ratio to mind. This appealed to us for both design and creativity. You can’t help but laugh at both the title and the design!”

Deconstructed Watermelon by The Nature in Us

For more information about this fun design, click on the photo to see Daniela’s Instagram post!

Here’s the feedback from The Sage about Irina’s entry: “Our landlocked location (Utah!) doesn’t make it easy to visit the ocean, but the movement of the water and sky in this soap had us sighing with longing for a beach vacation. Yet, the simple changes between layers didn’t have us set on one type of beach. Depending on the person looking, we see cold rocky beaches OR warm tropical beaches.”

Ocean Dreams by IB Organics

Be sure to click on the photo for more information in Irina’s Instagram post!

Great job to all our winners, as well as everyone else who participated in the challenge this month!  If you would like to see the rest of the entries this month, check out these links:

Wondering about the 2023 challenges?  I will announce the January through April challenges next week and registration will open Monday, January 2nd!  Check out the Upcoming Challenges page for more information and sign up for all the notifications.  Meanwhile, please enjoy the holidays!  You can purchase tutorials to past challenges by clicking on the photo below: