Ultra-Thin Swirls Winners

September 2020 Soap Challenge

Our guest teacher for the September challenge was Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso.  She is super talented and always provides something unique and challenging whenever she teaches us.  The ultra-thin horizontal swirls technique is deceptively tricky, but creates such beautiful designs!  Tatiana’s tutorial is available for purchase in our Tutorial Shop.

Our three categories this month were regular, advanced and the non-competitive bonus category.  We had a new sponsor this month: Natalya of SoapLevel creates stunning individual cavity molds for soaps with exceptional detail.  She’s providing gift certificate prizes for the top 3 voted winners in the regular and advanced categories, as well as her Sponsor’s Choice winners in all three categories.  It has been such a pleasure working with her!

Let’s check out the winners from the advanced category first.  Not only were participants in this category required to use five or more swirl colors, but they also had to do a secondary swirl.  The best designs have nice, crisp lines that go down through the soap and consistent secondary swirls.

Our grand prize winner is Katja Schneider in Germany for her stunning Lagoon soap with ultra-thin swirls and gorgeous lines.  I love the hint of gold in with the blues and white!

Lagoon by Katja Schneider

Katja wins a $50 gift certificate from SoapLevel – congratulations!!  Click on the photo to read more about this soap on her Instagram post.

Second place goes to Christina Biehl of TraumBubbles in Germany.  Christina’s soap is a gorgeous ultra-thin design as well, featuring stunning neons, outlined with black.  This was her third attempt at the technique:

Feather Dance by TraumBubbles

Christina’s prize is a $35 gift certificate – hooray!  You’ll want to see the photos of the wet soap in the mold for sure, so click on the photo to check out her Instagram post.

I’m very happy to announce that third place goes to Jerry Merritt in North Carolina!  Jerry has been doing the challenges for quite some time now and I’ve really enjoyed seeing his progression.  Here is his colorful Neon Madness soap with ultra-thin lines:

Neon Madness by Jerry Merritt

Jerry wins a $25 gift certificate – awesome!  (Photo not linked.)

The Sponsor’s Choice award from SoapLevel for the advanced category goes to Yvonne Liao in Taiwan for her beautiful Hair Swirls soap.  Natalya says, “This soap has almost immediately caught my eye. It looks very fresh and “curly”; like hair swirl.”  She also noted this quote that fits with the theme of the soap:

“I knew everything about back of that head-
the swirl of his hair,
the curve of his ear,
the straight, sharp line of his jaw.
I liked the way he smelled like soap
even late in the afternoon.”
-Karen Thompson Walker

Hair Swirls by Yvonne Liao

Yvonne’s prize is a $20 gift certificate!  Click on the photo to see the video of her swirling this soap on Instagram.

Next we have the recognition awards for the advanced category!  Starting with Best Technique, I have chosen Megan Manzella in Indiana to receive this award.  Her soap is titled “Lisa Frank” as a nod to Trapper Keepers in the 90’s created with her designs!  I love that she has such nice, crisp lines of color that go most of the way through each bar with consistent secondary swirls.

Lisa Frank by Megan Manzella

I also appreciate how her photo shows multiple bars of soap from different angles.  It is linked to Megan’s Facebook post where you’ll find one more soap she created with this technique as well.

Next we have the Best Presentation Award.  This award goes to Holly Shelton in Tennessee.  She has done an excellent job arranging and photographing the soaps so that you can see both fronts and sides of several.  The arrangement is well-balanced, and pleasing to the eye, with super clean edges on the soaps:

Sweet Peppermint Ultra-Thin Swirls by Holly Shelton

This photo is linked to Holly’s Instagram post where you can see more photos of her soap – both finished bars and her process.

For Best Use of Color, I chose Leilani Olsen in Colorado for her gorgeous Under a Violet Moon soap.  Not only is the color palette absolutely striking, but each color is perfectly smooth and homeogenous:

Under a Violet Moon by Leilani Olsen

If you click on the photo, you can check out Leilani’s Facebook post to see how she laid out her colors and the swirl pattern she used.

Finally, the Best Soap Newbie award goes to someone who has made fewer than 50 batches of soap and has been making soap for less than a year.  I am happy to announce that Karolyn Skudlarek in Minnesota is the winner of this award, and also took fourth place by just one vote as well!!  That’s pretty amazing for a brand new soapmaker, and a great testament to the skills she is building by participating in the challenges over the past several months. 

Chromosomes by Karolyn Skudlarek

Karolyn did an excellent job with her ultra-thin swirls, and adding that bit of pizzazz with some gold mica.  This was her sixth batch for the challenge, and the photo is linked to her Instagram post where you can see a couple of her other successful attempts!

The regular category is up next.  These designs were limited 1-4 swirl colors and no secondary swirls.  

Congratulations to our grand prize winner, Diane Schmid in Austria for her absolutely amazing Line-Up soap with perfectly crisp, ultra-thin swirls that go all the way through the soap:

Line-Up by Diane Schmid

Diane made three attempts at this technique, and ultimately came back to the first one for her entry.  She wins a $50 gift certificate from SoapLevel!  Take a look at her Instagram post by clicking on the photo.

In second place we have Anny Yeong in Hong Kong for her gorgeous Nano soap with a blue-green color palette, excellent lines, and beautifully beveled edges:

Nano by Anny Yeong

Anny wins a $35 gift certificate – hooray!  This photo speaks for itself as a beautiful representation of the technique, and is not linked elsewhere.

Our third place winner is Lisa Fogarty in the United Kingdom!  Her Sherbet Swirl soap has fantastic thin lines and beautiful sherbet colors:

Sherbet Swirl by Lisa Fogarty

Lisa’s prize is a $25 gift certificate!  Really incredible work – and beautifully photographed also!  The photo is linked to Lisa’s Instagram post if you’d like to check it out. 

The Sponsor’s Choice winner in the regular category goes to 1978Soap in Taiwan for her Ultra-Thin Woodgrain Swirl soap.  Natalya says, “This soap looks very realistic with its dancing colors. Reminds me about the long winter, cup of tea next to the wood stove, and hot shower. This little piece of art could bring so much joy and warmth.”

Ultra-Thin Woodgrain Swirl by 1978Soap

She wins a $20 gift certificate from SoapLevel – what a great prize!  Click on the photo if you’d like to check out her Instagram post.

Recognition awards for the regular category are next!  Best Technique award goes to Ellen Oneil in Texas for her awesome Mardi Gras Streamers soap.  I really love the consistent ultra-thin, crisp lines in the Mardi Gras colors, and how the edges of the swirl meet the yellow color on the sides to create the streamer effect! 

Mardi Gras Streamers by Ellen Oneil

Be sure to click on the photo to check out Ellen’s Instagram post with more photos of the soap in the mold.

Next is the Best Presentation award which goes to Marian Head in California for the photo of her Tiger Eye soaps!  The soaps are so bright and beautiful against the natural background textures.  They are well-lit without being overexposed by direct sunlight, and the staggered set-up creates interest:

Tiger Eye by Marian Head

Take a look at Marian’s Instagram post with more process photos and another soap she made with this technique by clicking on the photo above!

The Best Use of Color award goes to Brenda Storer in New York for her Welcome to the Shark Tank soap.  I’m not sure what it is about the teal blue color of this soap that appeals to me so much – maybe because I’ve never made a soap with this color before.  But it works so well with the black and white accents and definitely creates an oceanic scene.  The colors are well-mixed to create smooth, flowing swirls:

Welcome to the Shark Tank by Brenda Storer

Click on the photo to read more about why Brenda likes this color scheme on her Instagram post!

The Best Soap Newbie award in the regular category also goes to someone who has made fewer than 50 batches of soap and has been making soap for less than a year.  Congratulations goes to Sharon McConville in Ireland!  She had the very first entry in the regular category and it’s just beautiful:

Coconut Wonder by Sharon McConville

I was very impressed that she went for the maximum number of 4 swirl colors!  This was her third attempt, and you can see the rest of her soaps as well as her insights into what she learned from the challenge by clicking on the photo to see her Instagram post.

Finally, here is the winner of the Sponsor’s Choice award for the non-competitive bonus category!  Natalya chose Elena Popova in Russia to receive this award for her soap called Night Fire.  She said, “Absolutely gorgeous, sharp looking, and almost dangerous! You almost could feel chemistry and unpredictable behaviors after using this soap.”

Night Fire by Elena Popova

It’s stunning for sure!  Elena wins a $20 gift certificate from SoapLevel – very cool!  Be sure to click on the photo for more information about this soap in her Instagram post.

The rest of the entries for the Advanced and Regular categories are at the bottom of this post!

If you’d like to join us for the October challenge, registration opens TOMORROW, and you can choose between a 3-month registration or just October.  The challenge for October is Ghost Swirls with tips from the soapmaker who developed the technique: Clara Lindberg of Auntie Claras’s!  The two competitive categories are Beginner and Experienced.  We will also have a Bonus category again this month that is non-competitive.

Here is the soap I created for the video tutorial:

I did not add any colorant to this soap!  The beautiful pumpkin-orange comes from just a small percentage of red palm oil from our sponsor, Baraka Shea Butter!  They will be providing gift certificate prizes for the October challenge. Check out the Current Challenge page for more info about the November and December challenges and to sign up for notifications!

Check out the rest of the Advanced and Regular Category submissions below:

Advanced Category

Regular Category