Ghost Swirl Winners

October 2020 Soap Challenge

For the October challenge, we tackled a technique developed by Clara Lindberg of Auntie Clara’s in 2015 known as the ghost swirl.  She defines it this way: “a technique where a deliberate design is ’conjured’ into the soap without the use of any added colourant. It’s not essential whether the design is swirled with a skewer or a hanger, poured or spun, in the pot or in the mould. The essential thing is that contrasting shades are achieved purely by manipulation of water content and heat.”  It’s a fascinating study of the chemistry of soapmaking and we all learned so much from this challenge!

Our three categories this month were beginner, experienced and the non-competitive bonus category.  Baraka Shea Butter was back as our sponsor.   

They are an amazing company located in British Columbia, Canada with products sourced from Ghana, Africa.  They strive to use business to bridge divides worldwide and create a genuine community impact through:

They are providing gift certificate prizes for the top 3 voted winners in the beginner and experienced categories, plus Sponsor’s Choice winners in all three (including the bonus category).  We appreciate their support and hope you’ll support them with your business as well!

Anyone who has been making soap for more than a year and has made more than 50 batches had to add their submission to the experienced category.  (Beginners could choose to enter the experienced category if they wished.)  In order to create the purest form of the ghost swirl, the experienced category required no added colorants or additives other than optional fragrance or sodium lactate.  Any color had to come from the base oils and different lye concentrations only.  The best ghost swirls have intentional design and excellent contrast.  Here are the winners from the experienced category:

For the second month in a row, our grand prize winner is Katja Schneider in Germany!  Her Swinging Ghost soap has excellent contrast and beautiful swirls: 

Swinging Ghost by Katja Schneider

Congratulations to Katja for winning a $50 gift certificate from Baraka Shea Butter!!  You can click on the photo to read more about this soap on her Instagram post.

In second place we have a beginner who took her chances in the experienced category and came out ONE VOTE behind first place!  I’m happy to announce that Emily Milbauer in Colorado accomplished this!  Her Home Spun Home soap has a beautiful cobweb design from the ghost swirls and features long-legged spiders made from soap dough out of the same batch.

Home Spun Home by Emily Milbauer

Emily wins a $35 gift certificate – so awesome!  Check out more photos of this super cool soap on her Instagram post, linked to this photo.

Third place goes to Diletta Vitturi in Italy!  Her design resembles rows of wheat, and she has scented it with a fragrance called Whole Wheat Bread (with a few drops of vanilla).  The gorgeous color comes from red palm oil at just 5%.  In keeping with the theme, Diletta has titled her soap “Che ne sai tu di un CAMPO DI GRANO?” which means, “what do you know about a WHEAT FIELD?” from an Italian song by Lucio Battisti.

 “Che ne sai tu di un CAMPO DI GRANO?” by Diletta Vitturi

Diletta’s prize is a $25 gift certificate – hooray!  The photo is linked to her Instagram post with more information and photos of her soap – check it out!

The Sponsor’s Choice award from Baraka Shea Butter for the experienced category goes to Clare Norman of Soda and Ash in Australia for her fantastic Swirl and Sway soap.  Kristal from Baraka says, “Beautiful sways in the bar. Love the hint of colour.”

Swirl and Sway by Soda and Ash

Clare wins a $20 gift certificate for this beautiful entry!  Click on the photo to see her Instagram post with more information about this soap. (Can you guess how many different lye concentrations she used?)

Let’s take a look at the recognition awards for the experienced category!  Starting with Best Technique, I have chosen Taralyn Towers of ASC Soapworks in Colorado to receive this award.  I was super impressed that she pulled off the teardrop design with this technique – not only because the teardrop is difficult on its own, but managing the different batter consistencies made it even more challenging!  She achieved excellent contrast and beautiful teardrops:

Ghostly Teardrops by Taralyn Towers

Taralyn has been participating in the challenges for many years and I have enjoyed seeing her progress!  She always makes her soaps with all natural colors and scents, so I’m sure this challenge was right up her alley!  The photo is linked to her blog post with more photos of her process and information about how she made her soap.

For the Best Presentation Award I am looking for excellent photography and visually pleasing arrangement of the soaps.  I’ve chosen Lorie Jones-Flory in Canada to receive this award.  In case you were wondering, photographing a ghost swirl is almost as challenging as making one!  The nuance of the contrast can be quite difficult to capture, so I truly appreciate Lorie’s photo for the creative way she used light and shadow to show off her swirls:

Apparition by Lorie Jones-Flory

If you’d like to see a close-up and different angle of the soaps, be sure to click on the photo to see them in Lorie’s Instagram post.

The Best Use of Color award for the experienced category had to be based on the color of the oils and fragrance alone.  Many of the members went with traditional cream to tan colored soaps, so I was especially intrigued by this soap by Yumi Mori in Japan:

Pink Heart by Yumi Mori

Yumi used 32% pink macadamia nut oil to get the beautiful pink hue in her soap and celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  You can read more about her soap on her blog post (which also includes a video of her making the soap) by clicking on the photo.

Now we get to take a look at the winners from the beginner category!  Only those who have been making soap for less than a year or less than 50 batches could enter this one.  They could add one colorant to their base oils before dividing their soap into a maximum of two different lye concentrations.  The competition in this category was very tight as all of the top three winners were within one vote of each other!

Congratulations to our grand prize winner, Megan Manzella of Soak Soapworks in Indiana for her gorgeous Ghosticles design!


Ghosticles by Soak Soapworks

Megan used the mini drop swirl technique to create her design quite effectively!  She wins a $50 gift certificate from Baraka – what a treat!  Take a look at her Instagram post about how her soap was made (and nearly ruined!) by clicking on the photo.

Second place goes to Matylda Holtmann in Germany for her beautiful ghost swirl soap, The Swan Theory, which is a metaphor that describes something that comes as a surprise, or something unpredictable and how Matylda aptly describes this technique:

The Swan Theory by Matylda Holtmann

This was Matylda’s first soap challenge, and she has won a $35 gift certificate!  For more information about The Swan Theory and photos of her soap, just click on the photo above to see her Instagram post.

Here is our third place winner: Nicole Walker in Australia!  This was Nicole’s fourth attempt and she chose the Taiwan swirl to show off the technique with this delicious looking soap:

Yum Like Caramel by Nicole Walker

Nicole’s prize is a $25 gift certificate!  The photo is linked to her Instagram post if you’d like to see more photos of her process.

The Sponsor’s Choice award in the beginner category goes to Danielle Demyen in California for her Ghost Water Ripples soap.  Kristal says, “Love the circle swirls and the ripple effect.”

Ghost Water Ripples by Danielle Demyen

It truly is a unique design with a beautiful effect!  Danielle wins a $20 gift certificate from Baraka – woo hoo!  Feel free to click on the photo if you’d like to check out her Instagram post with photos of other soaps she made for the challenge.

How about the Recognition Awards next!  For the beginner category, I have chosen Naomi Skinner in Texas to receive the Best Technique award.  (She’s also in 4th place by just one vote!  I told you the competition was tight!)  Her Fractal Snowflakes design is pure genius as she did a pipe divider swirl – only with snowflake shaped cookie cutters! 

Fractal Snowflakes by Naomi Skinner

The color comes from blue mica mixed with titanium dioxide – such a beautiful hue!  The photo is linked to Naomi’s Instagram post if you’d like to take a look.

The Best Presentation award goes to Liudmila Chizh of Home Body Soap in Canada for the beautiful photo of her Amber ghost swirl soap.  I really like how the soaps are stacked and we get to see them from an angle that shows off the swirls, while being well-lit and focused:

Amber by Home Body Soap

The photo is linked to Liudmila’s Instagram post if you’d like to check it out.

The Best Use of Color award goes to Megan Kressin in Texas for her Purple Martin soap.  I really liked that she used alkanet as her colorant, as it created such a wonderful contrast for her ghost swirls:

Purple Martin by Megan Kressin

This was Megan’s second attempt for the challenge.  Click on the photo to read more about her soap on her Instagram post!

For the bonus category, the Sponsor’s Choice award goes to Alaina Jacobson in California for her Winter Ghost Swirl!!  Kristal says, “It is chilling in colour and I love the design that took shape in the pour.”

Winter Ghost Swirl by Alaina Jacobson

Alaina wins a $20 gift certificate for her fabulous ghost swirl soap!  Click on the photo to see her post on Instagram.  

The rest of the entries for the Experienced, Beginner, and Bonus categories are at the bottom of this post!

Registration opens TOMORROW for the November and December challenges!  We have some really fun techniques ready and waiting for you!  Our guest teacher for November is Leila Hazou of The Mad Soaper.  She has put together a video tutorial with tips and tricks for creating stunning mosaic soaps like this:

Our sponsor for this challenge is Soap FanaticsLeyla Van Melle is a brand new sponsor who provides marketing help via her online course, Smart Soap Seller. Check out the Current Challenge page for more info about the November and December challenges and to sign up for notifications!

The rest of the Bonus category submissions can be found HERE.  Check out the Experienced and Beginner submissions in the order they were voted below:

Experienced Category


Beginner Category