Dustpan Design Winners

January 2023 Soap Challenge

We started off the year inspired by a fluid acrylic paint technique, using regular household dustpans as our pouring vessels to create lovely designs with soap!  The goal of the challenge was to create beautiful, fluid, unmuddied designs on the top surface of a coordinating soap base canvas in a slab or tray-style mold.

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.  Instead of linking the photos to social media posts, some will be linked to a secondary entry photo showing a different viewpoint of the soaps.  You can search #soapchallengereveal to find out more information about the soaps from this month’s challenge.  The names were not attached to the entries during voting, but you’ll find them on the full list of submissions for this challenge linked at the bottom of this post.

Our sponsor this month is Micamoma, supplier of high-quality, fully tested mica powders, pigments and neon colours for soap makers that are cold process soap stable, cosmetic grade, US, UK and EU approved. They offer a wide range of colours and more with worldwide shipping from the UK.

They are providing gift certificate prizes for the top four winners in the regular and advanced categories, plus a Sponsor’s Choice winner in the bonus category.

This month we have an additional competitive category for those who placed in the top 3 in the challenges last year.  There’s only one winner for this winners category and that person will receive free registration for the entire year of challenges in 2023!  Talk about some incredible soaps!!

Typically, I like to start the winners announcement with the advanced category, but this month I’m going to change it up and start with the Sponsor’s Choice winner in the bonus category!  Fiona Brathwaite, owner of Micamoma, has chosen “Oh BeeHIVE!” by Lisa Gillespie in Colorado to receive this special honor.  She says, “I think that this soaper has managed to create intricate and cloud like swirls with the dustpan technique which are reminiscent of a sunset sky and cleverly include the colours of a bee.  The black and yellow striped layers also incorporate the bee theme and contrast beautifully with the dustpan layer.  A well conceived and executed soap.”

Oh BeeHIVE! by Lisa Gillespie

Lisa describes her soap this way: “A milk + honey + beeswax soap with a clever, graphically relevant homage to both the honey bee, flowering alpine fields, and Austin Powers. Should I have used fast tracing ingredients such as milk, honey, and beeswax?  (‘Oh, beHAVE! I said while pouring…’)”  She wins a $20 gift certificate from Micamoma – fantastic job!!  (photo not linked)

Next I’d like to do the Recognition Awards for the regular category.  Only those who have been making soap for less than three years could compete in this category.  Once in a blue moon, some brave soul will join the Soap Challenge Club and create their very first cold process soap for the challenge.  This month, I had to recognize one such individual with the Best Soap Newbie award!  Congratulations to Gavon Kato in Texas for not only creating your first cold process soap for the challenge, but doing such a good job of it, you received five votes in the process!

Neon Swirl by Gavon Kato

Keep participating with us, Gavon.  We’d love to see you continue your soapmaking journey with us!  (photo not linked)

The Best Presentation award is for an entry with well displayed soaps and fantastic photography.  Since this is the one and only way we judge the soaps in the challenges, it’s important to learn this skill!  I have chosen Akshoo Toraskar in Australia to receive this award in the regular category.  She did an amazing job capturing the colors of her Sea Glass soap with excellent lighting and keeping a clean, bright white background with minimal shadows.

Sea Glass by Akshoo Toraskar

Beautiful soaps, Akshoo!  I’m pretty sure this was her first time participating in a soap challenge and I look forward to seeing more of her work! (photo not linked)

Next is the Best Use of Color award.  This one is for an entry with smooth, well-mixed, unmuddied colors, and excellent contrast.  Since this technique requires a thin, fluid trace, it can be very difficult to keep the colors from overblending.  I loved that Jessica Kruszewski in Washington State was able to keep her colors smooth and unmuddied, and her use of contrasting color schemes for the dustpan and canvas proved to create a purposeful design.

Fire on Ice by Jessica Kruszewski

The bold color choices paid off to create the tension between these opposing forces of nature!  Wonderful work, Jessica!  (photo not linked) 

The final recognition award is for Best Technique.  We knew going into this challenge that soap would not behave like acrylic paint.  They are two completely different mediums.  The fun of it was to see what we could actually do with soap poured from a dustpan!  There are plenty of fun ways that soap can be layered in the dustpan, different angles to pour, and effects to create.  I was looking for a multi-colored design with fluid, unmuddied swirls and unusual effects.  I landed on this White Tea & Bergamot soap by Janina Piva in Canada as it has distinct, yet fluid pouring lines and an unusual effect that looks like it was combed in some areas.


White Tea & Bergamot by Janina Piva

The purple mica in oil swirls also create such a lovely effect, don’t you think?  It’s a fascinating soap with so many intricacies!  (photo not linked)

We’re still going backwards…starting with fourth place in the regular category for our voted winners!  Congratulations to Klára Plačková in the Czech Republic for her Dance of Colors soap!  She says, “ I love abstract art and when I poured the soap from the dustpan into the base canvas, I felt like a painter painting on a canvas. The colors danced by themselves.”  What a lovely way to describe her work!

Dance of Colors by Klára Plačková

Klára wins a $20 gift certificate from Micamoma – hooray!!  (photo not linked)

Third place in the regular category goes to Shelly Hokanson in Virginia for her super bold and bright Hot Lava Disco Style soap!  Shelly did an amazing job with the colors and lines of her design and capturing the movement of a lava lamp.

Hot Lava Disco Style by Shelly Hokanson

Shelly wins a $25 gift certificate from Micamoma!  Well deserved!  (photo not linked)

In second place we have Candace Ford in Canada!  Candace was one a just a few people who attempted to create a painting in her dustpan and transfer it onto her soap canvas.  The painting is inspired by a vintage Italian bubble glass art piece that hangs on her bedroom wall, a reproduction of a Mario Vannetti floral still life oil painting.  The results are truly outstanding!

Vintage Vannetti by Candace Ford

Candace wins a $35 gift certificate from Micamoma – just wonderful!  (photo not linked)

Our grand prize winner in the regular category is Chriss Bange in Germany!  Chriss did an amazing job highlighting the chaos of the dustpan pour with a perfectly ordered, straight layered canvas.  The lovely colors and swirls complement one another perfectly!

Order and Chaos by Chriss Bange

Chriss’ prize is a $50 gift certificate from Micamoma – well done!!  (photo not linked)

Next we have the Recognition Awards for the advanced category!  Best Presentation goes to a beautiful photo by Mandy Welch in Alabama.  Her Ally soap has just the right amount of lighting, and the dark, mirrored background creates drama and mystique.  She has angled the photo in such a way that we can see a peek at the rainbow canvas underneath the black, white and gold dustpan design.


Ally by Mandy Welch

The advanced category was required to provide a second entry photo showing the side or end of at least one soap, and you’ll want to see Mandy’s!  Just click on the photo above.

For the Best Use of Color, I have chosen Katie Centrella in Pennsylvania’s soap that showcases the reflection of a rainbow “After the Rain.”  I love how the colors blend into one another without being over-mixed.  She has done a great job keeping the hues within the same range, yet providing a mix of blended and contrasting shades.

After the Rain by Katie Centrella

Be sure to click on the photo above to see Katie’s second entry photo for a better look at the canvas and more soaps from this batch.

The Best Technique award was so difficult to choose because there were so many visually interesting designs!  I ended up picking Mother Earth by Lisa Carozza in Florida because she was able to create a beautiful, unmuddied design on her entire slab, and it’s really large!  Most impressive to me was how Lisa was able to generate so much movement, yet retain crisp lines all the way to edges of her soap canvas.  

Mother Earth by Lisa Carozza

Check out the contrast of Lisa’s canvas with her dustpan design by clicking on the photo above.

Again, we will proceed in backward order with the prize winners in the advanced category!  Our fourth place winner is Shirley Colaso in Oman with her truly delightful Purple Passion soap!  This was her first time entering the advanced category and she did a wonderful job combining the purple and gold colors for a royally remarkable result.

Purple Passion by Shirley Colaso

Shirley’s prize is a $20 gift certificate from Micamoma – congratulations!  Her canvas is an unexpected white, aqua and turquoise one pot wonder swirl. Click the photo above to see it!

Our third place winner in the advanced category is Edgar Kameraki in Mexico.  Edgar chose the classic colors of the northern lights for his dustpan design, and the movement in the canvas mimics the wispy swirls you see in the sky!   

Aurora Boreal by Edgar Kameraki

Edgar wins a $25 gift certificate from Micamoma. Well done!  Get a better look at his soap by clicking on the photo above.

Second place goes to Jana Sůvová Dolejšová in the Czech Republic for her gorgeous Psychedelic Waves soap!  She has created an abundance of fine lines and splendid movement with her super fluid soap batter.  It has obviously flowed like paint!

Psychedelic Waves by Jana Sůvová Dolejšová

Jana’s prize is a $35 gift certificate from Micamoma – fantastic!  Be sure to click on the photo to get a closer look at the black and white canvas pour, as well as some of the other dustpan designs.

Huge congratulations to our grand prize winner in the advanced category, Vicki Chase in New Hampshire!  Vicki’s Dreamy Greens soap was the run-away winner with well over 100 votes.  It’s an incredible feat of dustpan pouring with the smooth, crisp lines all intact!

Dreamy Greens by Vicki Chase

Fantastic work, Vicki!  Her prize is a $50 gift certificate from Micamoma.  If you’re interested, just click on the photo to see the plain, white canvas and some different views of Vicki’s soaps.

For our grand finale, I am happy to announce that our winner of the winners category is none other than Wan-Ting Gonzalez in California!!  Her Lucid Dream soap was our very first entry this month and it is a jaw-dropping masterpiece.  She used a myriad of her own custom blended colors that flow like paint.

Lucid Dream by Wan-Ting Gonzalez

Wan-Ting has won free registration for all of the 2023 challenges.  Her work is outstanding in every way!  Click on the photo to see her second entry photo featuring the speckled canvas and more views of these magnificent soaps.

Everyone who participated this month did outstanding work!  If you would like to see the rest of the entries, the vote counts, and who created them, check out these links.  You’ll need to click on the TITLE of each entry to see their maker’s names.

Good news!!  We are continuing with three competitive categories for the foreseeable future!  The prize structure will change, but this will help even the playing field for everyone.  Registration for the February through April challenges opens Monday, January 30!  February’s challenge is Coloring Soap Naturally with guest teacher Kandra Churchwell of Soapy Friends. The goal of the challenge this month is to learn how to create infusions or slurries with plant-based colors and use them effectively in our soaps.  Our sponsor is a wonderful supplier of botanicals, Anne George’s. Check out the Upcoming Challenges page for more information and sign up to be notified as soon as registration opens.  Here are the soaps Kandra made for our tutorial with indigo, annatto, and madder root: