The challenge for February was more of a technical challenge as we discovered how to use the phenomenon of glycerin rivers as an intentional design technique. As most soapmakers have experienced glycerin rivers forming in their soaps when they weren’t expecting them, I think many of us expected this to be an easy challenge when the science behind their formation was explained by Clara Lindberg of Auntie Clara’s and we attempted to force their appearance. We are also super grateful to Mad Micas, a premiere supplier of high quality micas, pigments, dyes, natural colorants – and more, for sponsoring this challenge! They provided gift certificate prizes to our top three voted winners in both the regular and advanced categories as well as choosing a Sponsor’s Choice award for each category.
Entries for the advanced category had to manipulate their soap batter so that glycerin rivers would show up in part of the soap, while keeping other parts smooth. Here are the winners:
Grand prize is awarded to Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana for her stunning Rocky Road soap, made with the dancing funnel technique:
Teri did a fantastic job of creating texture in the “rock” portion and keeping the brown batter smooth. This was an extended pouring technique, which also made it much more difficult. Teri’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Mad Micas!! Be sure to click on the photo to see Teri’s Facebook post about her soap which is also linked to the video of her making it!
Next, we have Diane Schmid in Austria taking second place with her concentric circle designed soap:
This is a completely uncolored soap – the only difference is the amount of water added to the batter for each “color”. Diane was working blind as she poured since the different colors were not developed until after the soap was set, making this an even more difficult design. She wins a $35 gift certificate from our sponsor – way to go! Click on the photo of her soap to read Diane’s extensive blog post about all her various attempts at this technique – it’s a fascinating read.
Third place goes to Tanya Mertes of Sonnerie du Savon in Texas for her visually stunning Ocean Tide soap! Additionally, I have awarded her with the Best Use of Color for the advanced category:
Tanya’s soap is specially layered to create wave-like movement with texture from the glycerin rivers to enhance the foam. The blue shades grow more brilliant and the contrast with the white and sand are pure perfection, which is why she received the color award. All her colorants are perfectly smooth and well-mixed into the batter. Tanya’s prize for third place is a $25 gift certificate from our sponsor. The photo of her soap is linked to her Instagram post with more information about this soap as well as several others she created with glycerin rivers for this challenge.
For the Sponsor’s Choice award, Joanna Schmidt of Mad Micas has chosen “River, River, Gimme a River” by Jodi Welsh in Maryland! Joanna said, “This design has a unique blue landscape along with nice crackling in the one layer of blue. Reminded us of extremely weathered old painted furniture we all adore so much. The color contrast at the bottom is also a nice touch. Overall, the soap is beautiful and rustic!”
As a relatively new soapmaker with fewer than 50 batches under her belt, Jodi has done an excellent job of controlling her soap batter with her layers! Her prize is a $20 gift certificate – congratulations! Click on the photo of her soap to read more about her colorants and how she made the soap on her Instagram post.
Next, I would like to share the winners of the rest of the recognition awards for the advanced category:
Best Presentation award goes to Holly Shelton in Tennessee for this beautiful photo of her Coffee Cocoa soap:
Glycerin rivers are NOT easy to photograph! Holly has done an excellent job capturing both the outline and fine crackle effect in her soap which is clearly in focus in the foreground. The rest of the soaps make the perfect blurry background. Great job, Holly!
Best Technique award goes to Audra Weisenberger in West Virginia for her adorable Fish Bowl soap. Not only did Audra get excellent cracking in the blue layer of her soap, but she also did an excellent job of planning her layers to utilize the stamps of the bowl and goldfish to mark the soap:
Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to see her Pinterest board with all kinds of photos to document her process. See how she learned from her first soap to adapt and make changes to create what you see here.
Finally, the Best Soap Newbie award goes to Julie Esdaile in California for her Dragon’s Breath soap:
Julie has been making soap for less than a year, with fewer than 50 batches made. Not only did she create a stunning soap filled with glycerin rivers in the white area, but the fiery breath of the dragon is an excellent effect as well! Presentation is also spot on!
For the regular category, entries had to have glycerin rivers throughout every color of the soap. Here are the winners:
The grand prize winner is Irina Beketova of I.B. Organics in Texas with this fabulous Baconator soap:
Irina utilized the texture of the glycerin rivers to create a soap that mimics bacon! It’s such a unique and unexpected design with amazing results! Irina wins a $50 gift certificate from Mad Micas – hooray! Her photo is linked to her Instagram post with more information and photos of her soap. Check it out!
In second place we have Enas Swairjo in Kuwait with this all around perfectly “glivered” Ammonite soap:
Enas has demonstrated such a beautiful, consistent texture in her soap which reminds her of sedimentary rocks and ammonites – extinct marine animals from the Jurassic period. She wins a $35 gift certificate from our sponsor – woo hoo! Click on the photo to read more about her soap and process and the inspiration behind it. It’s a very personal and beautiful story!
Third place goes to Faye Melton of Squaw Valley Soap Co in Illinois for her perfectly magical Unicorn Cake Batter soap:
Faye was smart in her approach to this challenge. She already knew that one of her specialty soaps produced glycerin rivers, so she re-created it! The colors and texture of the soap definitely make me hungry for cake! Faye’s prize is a $25 gift certificate from our sponsor – fantastic! The photo of her soap is linked to her Instagram post with more info.
For the Sponsor’s Choice award in the regular category, Joanna has chosen Peace & Harmony by Debi Olsen of Me Do it Meself in Colorado. Joanna says, “The simplistic nature of this soap was the most outstanding to us. The glycerin rivers/crackle effect gave it a stone-like appearance which we thought was intentionally clever and well executed. Great photo!”
Congratulations, Debi! Please click on the photo to read her Instagram post about her unusual soap experience that led to this entry!
And now for the recognition awards for the regular category! Best Presentation goes to Susan Park of b.Nu Soap Co in Colorado for her Jade Rivers entry:
Susan has done an excellent job of photographing the rivers that flow through the entire soap! The corners are perfectly beveled, everything is sharply focused and centered, and she has showcased three very different designs from this batch. Check out her Instagram post that also shares her inspiration behind the soap by clicking on the photo!
The Best Technique award goes to Leslie Steadman of Luxurious Soaps LLC in Indiana for her Raspberry Rivers soap:
I was super impressed with this soap – mainly because Leslie used four different colors and had consistent river structure throughout her soap. Because different pigments can react differently, this is not an easy accomplishment! The cracks are obvious and somehow create the appearance that they are different colors in the different layers of the soap. Click on the photo to read more about Leslie’s soap in her Facebook post.
Best Use of Color goes to Jerry Merritt in North Carolina for his River of Dreams soap:
I really appreciate Jerry’s use of color because there are so many intricacies to each block – like the pink with the darker pink accents and the blue with green. The colors have excellent contrast and have been swirled into each other without becoming muddied.
Finally, the Best Soap Newbie award goes to Rhodana Fields in Maryland for her Dreaming of Turquoise soap:
I’m not sure if I’m more impressed by the glycerin river structure, or Rhodana’s ability to photograph them! We see the soap from several different angles which shows how even the texture is as well as the depth of the structure. The colors and veining are just beautiful as well!
The rest of the entries are posted in the order they were voted at the bottom of this post. Next month our guest teacher, Carmen Iclodean of Earth’s Raw Beauty, will share the secrets behind her Inlaid Designs technique. I had the pleasure of going to Las Vegas to meet Carmen and video the tutorial as she made these beautiful soaps:
Registration opens Monday, March 4 for the March challenge! You will also have the option to sign up for April also at a discount if you wish. More information on the Current Challenge page.
And now, here are the rest of the entries for February: