Layers with Drop Swirls Winners

August 2020 Soap Challenge

The challenge for August was a combo technique of layers with drop swirls and was a suggestion by Janie Hadsel, one of our long-time members.  There are so many different ways to combine these two techniques, and I’m sure we only scratched the surface of possibilities!

Since we’ve had so many new soapmakers join the challenges, I decided to switch things up a little bit and divided the categories by experience.  The beginner category was for those who have made fewer than 50 batches or have been making soap for less than a year.  I was very happy to see 60 entries in this category!!  Beginners had the option to enter the experienced category instead if they wished, and several decided to take that challenge.  We had 117 total entries in the experienced category.  I also continued with the bonus category where anyone could include an entry.  It’s non-competitive, just for fun, and provided an opportunity for those who didn’t feel ready to be part of the competition to participate, or for those who did to add an extra entry.

Creative Soap by Steso was our sponsor this month for the first time!  Tatiana Serko has been our guest teacher in the past, but this was the first time she has sponsored.  She makes the most beautiful custom soap tools, and has made soap cutters for the grand prize winners in each category, soap molds for the second place winners, soap bevelers for the third place winners, and $20 gift certificates for her Sponsor’s Choice winners, with an additional Sponsor’s Choice prize for the non-competitive category.  We are incredibly grateful!!

Starting with winners from the experienced category, we have some absolutely stunning soaps!  This category had to include a third element of design within their soap – could be anything from mica lines to embeds to sculpted layers – just to name a few.  You’ll see some very creative ideas!

Grand prize goes to Thanaphon Thanyanimman in Thailand for his amazing Sweet Chocolate soap with multiple ombre angled layers and beautiful drop swirls!  I really like the visual appeal of this design as the layers are super accurate and straight, and the majority of the ombred layers are sandwiched between two dark, solid layers.  The drop swirls are perfectly fluid and also well-controlled:

Sweet Chocolate by Thanaphon Thanyanimman

This is a big win for Thanaphon who has been participating for just a few months now and received a recognition award in June, and has worked his way to the top!  He wins a custom soap cutter from Creative Soap by Steso – congratulations!!  The photo is linked to his Instagram post about his soap.

Second place goes to Amy Bautista of Elysian Acres Soap in Colorado.  Check out her impressive Jurassic Soap design with soap dough dinosaur bones, layers of dirt, fabulous leafy green drop swirls, and soapy flowers on top!

Jurassic Soap by Elysian Acres Soap

This is another fantastic win, as Amy has been moving up the ranks from Sponsor’s Choice in April, to third place last month and now second!  Amy’s prize is a custom soap mold from Creative Soap by Steso – hooray!  Be sure to click on the photo to see her Instagram post with all the fun process photos and cutting video.

In third place we have Lynette Olsen in California who captured this beautiful Sunrise Over the Mountains scene!  It was her third attempt at this design before she was satisfied with the results, and all that hard work certainly paid off. 

Sunrise Over the Mountains by Lynette Olsen

Lynette is a long-time member of the Club and has received several recognition awards and placed in the top three one other time.  She wins a custom soap beveler from Creative Soap by Steso – awesome!  Click on the photo to see Lynette’s other attempts to create this design and the progression she made to get to this award-winning soap.

The Sponsor’s Choice award from Creative Soap by Steso for the experienced category goes to Marina Baranov in Kentucky for her astonishing Autumn Bridge soap, that took a span of several days to create!  Tatiana says, “I love it! Very beautiful  composition! I like that the author thought through everything to the smallest detail. In this soap, I see an autumn story. And I remember my childhood, when my parents and I went to the park and I collected fallen leaves from the trees. It smelled like rain and it was cool. But, I was still happy! Thanks for such a great job!”

Autumn Bridge by Marina Baranov

Marina has won multiple prizes and awards since joining the Club.  Known for her intricate sculpted designs, it’s no surprise that she won Tatiana’s heart with this beauty!  Marina wins a $20 gift certificate – I wonder how she will spend it?  For more information about this soap, click on the photo to read more in her Instagram post.

Next we have the recognition awards for the experienced category!  Starting with Best Technique, I have chosen Clare Norman of Soda and Ash in Australia to receive this award.  Clare’s soap is titled Rough Seas, and I’m highly impressed with both the layers and drop swirls that give this effect.  The combination of the straight layers with the striped pointy layer gives so much interest and also allows for excellent play between the layers and drops.

Rough Seas by Soda and Ash

I love the clean, smooth batter along with the texture of the sand and the striking gold mica line.  All-around excellent design and soapmaking!  The photo is linked to Clare’s Instagram post with more information about her methods.

Next we have the Best Presentation Award.  This award goes to Megan Manzella in Indiana for her beautiful Mountain Sunset photo.  I appreciate the way Megan has laid out several of the soaps in an interesting pile that focuses on the front ones, while the background fades away.  The wooden texture has a nice contrast to the deep colors of the soaps, and the lighting is wonderfully diffused to reflect the beauty of the soap without creating harsh shadows.

Mountain Sunset by Megan Manzella

This photo is linked to Megan’s Facebook post where you can see the other soap she made for the challenge this month (also beautifully photographed).

For Best Use of Color, I chose Roxanne Moore of Caprica Soapery in Washington State for her gorgeous Pacific Coast soap.  I love the tone-on-tone blues from the waves, but what impresses me most is how she created the white caps at the top of the waves!  This use of color has taken her design to a whole new level.  I also appreciate the swirls within the moon embeds, and how all of the colorants are smoothly mixed into the soap.

Pacific Coast by Caprica Soapery

If you click on the photo, you can check out Roxanne’s Instagram post that includes her inspiration photo and see how closely she was able to replicate it!

Finally, since we had several beginners enter the experienced category, I wanted to give out a Best Soap Newbie award just for this category.  This is for someone who has made fewer than 50 batches of soap and has been making soap for less than a year.  Congratulations to Sabine Andreew in Germany for her fantastic soap, aptly named “Brighter Than a Thousand Suns”:

Brighter Than a Thousand Suns by Sabine Andreew

Sabine added a sculpted layer as her third element, and all the bright neon layers and drops with the black really came together beautifully.  Even the photograph is well done with the black background to emphasize the colorful soaps and tie in with the black swirls.  Great job, Sabine!

The beginner category is full of amazing soaps as well!  These designs were limited to solid colors for the layers as well as the drop swirls without any added elements within in the soap.  (Top embellishments were optional.)

Congratulations to the grand prize winner, Heather Bovino in New Jersey, who ran away with the most votes for one soap in the history of the Club!!  Her Neapolitan Sundae soap was a huge hit, garnering over 200 votes!  Rightfully so, as it looks good enough to eat:

Neapolitan Sundae by Heather Bovino

This is quite a feat for her first time participating in the Challenge Club!  Heather wins a custom soap cutter from Creative Soap by Steso and deserves a big round of applause!  Take a look at her Instagram post by clicking on the photo.  

Second place goes to Karolyn Skudlarek in Minnesota for her absolutely beautiful soap titled “My Garden.”  Karolyn mixed tiger stripe layers with big, bold drop swirls in jewel toned colors to create this stunning result:

My Garden by Karolyn Skudlarek

Karolyn made five batches before she was satisfied with the overall color scheme and design!  She has won a Best Soap Newbie recognition award before, but this is her first time in the top three.  Her prize is a custom soap mold from Creative Soap by Steso.   Click on the photo to see the rest of the batches Karolyn made and her reasons for rejecting them until she got to this one!  

Our third place winner (by one vote!) is Naomi Skinner in Texas!  Naomi created a lovely cherry blossom soap with multiple pointy layers in soft blue tones, topped with pink drop swirls to mimic cherry blossoms.  The result is her Sakura soap:

Sakura by Naomi Skinner

Naomi’s prize is a custom soap beveler from Creative Soap by Steso!  Really incredible work – especially with the branches and flowers on top as well!  (photo not linked)

The Sponsor’s Choice winner in the beginner category goes to Emily Milbauer in Colorado for her whimsical soap titled “Impressions of a Tomato Plant.”  Tatiana says, “I really liked the choice of colors and how harmonious the whole composition looks. I like that the author paid attention to the little things. Which complete the whole picture.”

Impressions of a Tomato Plant by Emily Milbauer

Emily wins a $20 gift certificate from Creative Soaps by Steso – what a great prize!  Click on the photo to see Emily’s Pinterest board about her soap and see the other attempt she made as well.

Recognition awards for the beginner category are next!  Best Technique award goes to Angela Lussow in Wisconsin for her most excellent Praimfaya soap, a nod to “The 100” fans everywhere!  Certainly an apocalyptic inspired soap with raining fire for drop swirls, and fierce orange and pink pointy layers, I felt that Angela pulled off both techniques beautifully.

Praimfaya by Angela Lussow

Be sure to check out Angela’s Instagram post that includes her very first soapmaking video by clicking on the photo.

Next is the Best Presentation award which goes to Amanda Ayre in Australia for the photo of her Ocean Pool Sunset soaps!  I love the light and airy look of the soaps with the pastel colors on a light wood background.  She has arranged them in such a way that we can see the soaps from a variety of angles, keeping the center ones well focused:

Ocean Pool Sunset by Amanda Ayre

Take a look at Amanda’s Instagram post about her soaps that includes her inspiration photo by clicking on the photo above!

The Best Use of Color award goes to Rachel Kendell in Utah for her Simply Summer soap.  I really love the contrast she achieved by starting with a royal blue layer, then light blue, and finally creamy white.  The red and pink drop swirls meld into the creamy white layer so beautifully, as they fill at least half of the soap.  It’s a very well-balanced design:

Simply Summer by Rachel Kendell

It’s important to note that red can be a tricky color to achieve – especially for a new soapmaker!  Excellent work, Rachel!  (photo not linked)

No Soap Newbie award in the beginner category…

Finally, here is the winner of the Sponsor’s Choice award for the non-competitive bonus category!  Tatiana chose Christina Biehl in Germany to receive this award for her soap called Bubbles and Blobbs.  She said, “It’s a fantastic soap. Despite the large number of dyes, I can see each color separately. Soap texture, color and design are all very beautiful.”

Bubbles and Blobbs by Christina Biehl

Christina wins a $20 gift certificate toward her own custom soap tool!  Be sure to click on the photo for more information about this soap in her Instagram post.

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

Here’s the exciting news about the challenges coming up for the rest of the year!!  Registration opens TOMORROW, and you can choose between a 4-month registration or just September.  The challenge for September is Ultra-Thin Horizontal Swirls with returning guest teacher Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso!!!  The two competitive categories are Regular and Advanced.  We will also have a Bonus category again this month that is non-competitive.

Here is the soap Tatiana created for the video tutorial!  Isn’t it stunning?

We have a brand new sponsor for September.  Natalya with SoapLevel creates beautiful individual silicone molds for soaps and will be providing gift certificate prizes. Check out the Current Challenge page for more info about the October, 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