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For the month of August, the Soap Challenge Club took on the Intaglio technique which was created by Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap. He’s made three different types of designs with this type of carving technique and was excited to see what the Challenge Club members might be able to create. Strictly speaking, intaglio is an etching or engraving that refers to an image that is created by what is carved away. It has been used in printmaking processes. For the challenge, members were simply encouraged to etch a design in their soap that was no more than 1 cm deep. The design could be created from what was left, or from what was carved away using at least one thin layer of a contrasting color to really make the design pop.

The challenge was divided between two categories: juried and voted. Majestic Mountain Sage was our sponsor for the juried category and participated in choosing our top three winners as well as their Sponsor’s Choice winner. Other members of the jury included Tina Moenk of Natural Suds N More, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking and myself. Those who entered the juried category were scored according to their adherence to the technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, presentation, theme and overall aesthetics. Since there were only 16 entries this time, all were scored by the jury members and everyone who entered this category will receive their scores as well as personal feedback from me about their soaps.

All of the jury members agreed that the top 2 spots in the this category could have been interchangeable as they were both SO incredibly amazing! In the end, there can only be one winner, and with just 4 more points than second place, here is the Grand Prize winner: Linda Irawan of Moia Soap in Indonesia!!! Linda has placed in every challenge since she began participating with us. She has incredible talent (and patience!). Her winning soap is Panthera Tigris, an amazing display of color and excellent use of thematic elements, and precision in design.

Panthera Tigris soap by Moia Soap

Congratulations, Linda!! Her prize is a $100 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage. Check out more photos of her beautiful soap on her Instagram post by clicking on the one above!

In second place, and equally fantastic is Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana! Teri has been the Grand Prize winner in the juried category the past few months and always creates outstanding designs. She took the opposite approach by creating her design by what was left rather than by what was carved away. The result is this stunning Plumeria Bouquet with three layers of color:

Plumeria Bouquet soap by Tree Marie Soapworks

Teri wins a $75 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage to keep her creative juices flowing. Click on the photo to see more about her process and how she incorporated parts of her practice soap into this one.

Third and fourth place were super tight also! With a margin of just four points, our third place winner is Belinda Williams of Love Your Suds in Canada! With Halloween just a few months away, Belinda’s soaps are Something Spooky. The clean lines and simple black and white color scheme really showcases her designs beautifully:

Something Spooky soaps by Love Your Suds

Belinda’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Majestic Mountain Sage! Congratulations!! Read more about Belinda’s soaps on her Instagram by clicking on the photo.

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Lyn Arnhart of Garnet Tree Designs in Florida. Lyn’s Quilt Blossoms soap caught the eye of Tina Howard of Majestic Mountain Sage for several reasons. She says, “Quilting is similar to soap, it can be so very basic or it can be extremely creative. The colors chosen, as well as the whole image on her site, showed that she prepared her soap much like an intricate quilt – with a lot of preparation. These soaps, as a whole, felt like a quilt with the appliqued top and the peek-a-boo fabric underneath. A good choice of colors representing the concept of quilting as well as the art of marbling. This soap was well done, very well done.”

Quilt Blossoms soap by Garnet Tree Designs

Congratulations to Lyn for winning a $25 gift certificate from The Sage! Lyn has a great write-up and plenty of process photos on her Facebook post. Just click on the photo to check it out!

Now for the voted category! These winners were voted on by all of the members of the August Challenge Club, and sponsored by Nurture Soap. We have a stand-out winner who has been participating in the challenges for several years and this is her first time placing!! I’m so happy for Rama Mbaye in Paris, France becoming the Grand Prize winner this month! Her soap is inspired by a mosaic pattern which was beautifully executed in great detail:

Intaglio Mosaic soap by Rama Mbaye

Rama wins a $100 gift certificate from Nurture Soap – woo hoo!! Click on the photo to see her inspiration and process photos on her Instagram post.

Second place goes to Holly Shelton of Kapia Mera Soap Co in Tennessee! She is a faithful member of the Challenge Club for several years with quite a few prizewinning soaps during that time. Holly’s soap this month is a fabulous landscape design that was translated into all four bars. She had to perfectly place each color underneath to carve out the shapes each one represented:

Intaglio Soap Carving by Kapia Mera Soap Co

Excellent work, Holly! Her prize is a $75 gift certificate from Nurture Soap. Be sure to click on the photo to read Holly’s blog post about her process and see the video.

In third place, and just 2 votes behind Holly, we have Carmen Iclodean of Earth’s Raw Beauty in Nevada! Carmen has been participating in the challenges for several years as well and placed one other time. She used every ounce of patience she had to create this stunning “Paisley Pain” soap with excellent detail and clean lines:

Paisley Pain soap by Earth’s Raw Beauty

Your efforts paid off, Carmen! She wins a $50 gift certificate from Nurture Soap. This photo is linked to Carmen’s Instagram post if you want to take a look.

The Sponsor’s Choice winner was chosen by Carrie Thornsbury of Nurture Soap. Congratulations to Kelley Conway of The Corner Handmade in Massachusetts! This is her second month in a row to win Sponsor’s Choice!! Carrie said she appreciated the clarity of Kelley’s carving as well as the excellent color contrast in her Tribal Football soap:

Tribal Football soap by The Corner Handmade

Kelley’s prize is a $25 gift certificate from Nurture. Be sure to click on the photo to see more photos and information about how and why she created her soap on her Facebook page.

Don’t miss the rest of the entries, and the announcement of the top 10 in the juried category located here:

Juried Category

Voted Category

The technique for September is 3D Jelly Soaps!! Helene Glemet of ChezHelene is our guest teacher, and will be showing us how to make this soap:

3D jelly soap by Helene Glemet

We are doing one big challenge with Rustic Escentuals as our sponsor. The supply list has already been posted on the Current Challenge page. Be sure to check it out and join us as registration opens Monday, August 28. You can sign up to be notified below:

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Our challenge for July was presented by our guest teacher, Joanne Watkins of Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps. As an artist who is adept in acrylic paint techniques, Joanne showed us one of the fluid acrylic pour methods using a straw. The results can be quite stunning as you will see from the winning entries, but we also discovered that this technique can be a bit dangerous if precautions are not taken. Even with warnings about safety, several of our members ended up with lye burns. For this reason, I will not be offering the tutorial for sale, and hereby notify you that any attempts to re-create this technique are done at your own risk.

The challenge was divided into the juried and voted categories once again this month. Bramble Berry sponsored the juried category and participated in choosing our top three winners as well as their Sponsor’s Choice winner. Other members of the jury included Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking and myself. Those who entered the juried category were scored according to their adherence to the technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, presentation, and overall aesthetics. For this challenge, all entries had to include a photo of the wet soap in the mold as part of their social media or blog post. Everyone who entered this category will receive personal feedback from me about their soaps. As usual, it was a difficult challenge to score!! After all five jury members scored their top 15 choices, we had to discuss the final outcome, but everyone came to agreement on these top three winners:

Grand prize goes to Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana for her Muskmelon Mania soap! This is Teri’s second time in a row to win the grand prize in the juried category, and it is well deserved. The jury members were impressed with Teri’s tenacity to get her soap to look how she wanted it, and her ability to control the force of her breath to create the design without getting the colors muddied as they had been in previous attempts. She was also able to create a beautiful even texture in her soap without added air bubbles (very difficult with this technique), and her photography and presentation of her soap are also outstanding:

Muskmelon Mania by Tree Marie Soapworks

Congratulations to Teri for winning a $100 gift certificate from Bramble Berry!! Be sure click on the photo to see all of Teri’s attempts on her Facebook page.

In second place we have Janelle Peck in Idaho, and I couldn’t be happier for her! She has been participating in the challenges for over three years and this is her first time placing in the top 3! For this challenge, Janelle created an amazing Charcoal Nebula soap with impressive lines and colors, keeping her soap batter fluid throughout the pours, and presented her soap in a very unique and beautiful way:

Charcoal Nebula soap by Janelle Peck

Janelle’s prize is a $75 gift certificate from Bramble Berry – yippee!! Click on the photo of her soap to see her process on her Pinterest Board, and then check out the rest of her challenge club soaps HERE. You can see her progress as a soapmaker, but she’s always shown a lot of talent!

Third place goes to Linda Irawan of Moia Soap in Indonesia who has placed in three out of four challenges that she has entered! Her Blue River soap is a gorgeous display of moving waters, and stood out as a very unique design to the jury members. She used four different shades of blue micas along with some activated charcoal to create the monochromatic ripple effect:

Blue River by Moia Soap

Linda wins a $50 gift certificate from Bramble Berry! You can click on the photo to see more images of this soap, including the wet soap in the mold on her Instagram.

Finally, Kelsey B from Bramble Berry has chosen Nicole Lankenau of Nicole’s Artisan Soaps in New York to receive their Sponsor’s Choice prize! Nicole’s Blowing Autumn Tree soap won the hearts of everyone in the Bramble Berry office! Kelsey says, “This soap immediately stood out to me. First I saw the bright colors, then I noticed the intricate tree design. It’s amazing how Nicole’s Artisan Soaps was able to create the trunk, leaves, and sky in the background using a straw. Excellent job, the whole Bramble Berry office loves it.”

Blowing Autumn Tree by Nicole’s Artisan Soaps

Nicole wins a $25 gift certificate from Bramble Berry! Click on the photo to see her process photos on her Facebook page, as well as videos HERE and HERE.

For the voted category, the winners were chosen by the votes of all our members this month, and sponsored by Symphony Scents. Congratulations goes to Shayla Gauthier of Black Gold Soap Co. in Alberta, Canada for winning Grand Prize with her Rainbow Fyre soap! Shayla has participated in several challenges, and this is her second time to place in the top three. For this month’s challenge, she did an excellent job of re-creating a rainbow tie dye effect in her soap:

Rainbow Fyre soap by Black Gold Soap Co.

Shayla’s prize is a $100 gift certificate from Symphony Scents! Be sure to click on the photo to read her blog post about her inspiration and how she created the soap.

Second place goes to Sarah Corey of Sweet N Charming Soaps in New Mexico – and she placed in the top 3 last month also! While she struggled to keep her soap batter fluid until the very end, Sarah’s soap is still a gorgeous display of vivid blues and greens which she has aptly named Luminous Mirage:

Luminous Mirage soap by Sweet n Charming Soaps

Sarah wins a $75 gift certificate from Symphony Scents, and you can check out her blog post with process photos of her soap by clicking on the photo.

In third place we have Jamie Reddinger of Lathering Lotus in Pennsylvania! Jamie is a long-time member of the challenge club, and this is her first time placing in the top 3 – I’m so proud of her!! Ironically, she also won the three-month registration door prize that I contributed to the Pittsburgh Soapmakers Gathering last month! She did an excellent job of creating her fabulous Autumn Dreams soap:

Autumn Dreams soap by Lathering Lotus

Jamie’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Symphony Scents, and you can see the wet soap in the mold posted on her Instagram if you click on the photo above.

Finally, Lori Kimble of Symphony Scents has chosen Kelley Conway’s Fruity Fusion soap as her Sponsor’s Choice winner! Kelley’s company is The Corner Handmade in Massachusetts. Lori says, “This soap has a great color combo and the tutorial showed a nice fluid soap to create the patterns. The cut of the bars shows all the layers and patterns throughout. Plus, she stepped out of her comfort zone to do this technique!” Congratulations, Kelley!!

Fruity Fusion by The Corner Handmade

Kelley wins a $25 gift certificate from Symphony Scents!! Click on the photo to read more about Kelley’s soap on her Facebook page.

Don’t miss the rest of the entries, and the announcement of the top 10 in the juried category located here:

Juried Category

Voted Category

Next month we get to have some fun with the Intaglio technique that Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soap has developed. Registration opens on Monday! You can sign up for August only, or throw in September as well for a discounted rate. Here are my practice soaps:

Intaglio practice soaps by Amy Warden

My soap for the video tutorial is made – just needs to be carved!! I will update the info on the Current Challenge page as soon as I get them finished up. Sponsor information and tools needed for this technique are already posted there.

Sign up to be notified as soon as registration opens, if you haven’t already:

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Sir Soapy is a website dedicated to helping new soapmakers create handmade soaps with all natural ingredients. Sir Soapy himself recently requested an interview with me. You can see the full interview HERE. He asked some really great questions! Check it out!

He has also interviewed Anne-Marie Faiola from Bramble Berry and Amanda Gail from Lovin Soap, if you’d like to read those also.

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For the month of June, the Soap Challenge Club worked on perfecting ombre techniques in cold process soap. Ombre is the gradual blending of one color hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark or dark to light – or even color to color. Members were given the option to choose any technique they wished to demonstrate an ombre color patter in the majority of their soap.

The challenge was divided between juried and voted categories. Members who wished to learn a new technique and have some fun, and/or may be new to soapmaking were encouraged to enter the voted category. All of our members were eligible to vote for the winners in this category, except for the Sponsor’s Choice winner. Mad Micas sponsored the voted category with some awesome gift certificate prizes. If you haven’t visited their website recently, it’s worth checking out as they have added a ton of new colors and products! They also have a fun Facebook community.

Members who wished to be pushed to their maximum potential, possibly with aspirations to improve or begin online selling were encouraged to participate in the juried category. A panel of five jury members decided the winners for this category, including Tatiana Serko of Creative Soap by Steso, Jelena Vasiljeva of Soap Techniques, Kenna Cote of Modern Soapmaking, Leann Blackey representing our sponsor Elements Bath & Body and myself. Each jury member chose their top 15 picks and scored each entry on a scale of 1-10 on each of the following criteria: technique, difficulty, effort, skill/talent, uniqueness, presentation, and overall aesthetics. Seven categories with a maximum score of 10 from each of the five jury members would give a perfect 350 points. The scores from each jury member were added together to see who the top three winners would be. In addition to the winners chosen by the jury member, Elements Bath & Body chose a Sponsor’s Choice winner as well. They are a fantastic wholesale soap supplier with absolutely everything you might need – awesome prices, no minimum order and they ship worldwide!

I’m going to switch things up a bit and post the winners of the voted category first this time. Congratulations goes to Claudia Carpenter of Soap City blog in California with her amazing Murder at Sunset soap!! Claudia is a long time member and supporter of the Challenge Club with a total of five first place finishes now and quite a few other top three finishes. She has not only created a beautiful masterpiece, but she also educated us on the names of groups of birds. Did you know that a group of crows is actually called a “murder of crows”? Thus the name of her soap:

Murder at Sunset soap by Soap City

Of course even more amazing is how Claudia used a 3D printer to create the mold for the birds. Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to read all about it in her blog post. Claudia wins a $100 gift certificate from Mad Micas (and bragging rights, of course) – woo hoo!!

Second place goes to Bonnie Howard of The Village Soapsmith in North Carolina for her beautiful Teal Ombre soap. Bonnie has also participated in the challenges many times over the years, placing first in the U.S. category of the Embracing Opposites challenge and winning the Sponsor’s Choice award in the U.S. category of the Rimmed Soap challenge. Her ombre soap color change is so gradual, it is nearly impossible to pick out the layers!

Teal Ombre soap by The Village Soapsmith

Bonnie wins a $75 gift certificate from Mad Micas – congratulations!! Click on the photo to read about her process and see the other two ombre soaps she made.

In third place we have Sarah Corey of Sweet n Charming Soaps in New Mexico. Sarah has participated in the challenges several times in the last year, and this is her first time to place in the top 3! She is very experienced with the ombre technique (as you can see on her blog post), and has created a stellar ombre soap for the challenge:

Siren’s Song soap by Sweet n Charming Soaps

Sarah’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Mad Micas!

Finally, the Sponsor’s Choice prize has been awarded to Maja Zuvela-Aloise of Bubbledream in Austria for her Dusty Sunrise soap! This is Maja’s second Challenge Club award since she started participating in February. Joanna Schmidt, owner of Mad Micas says, “The deep orange to yellow is stunning! This is an extremely gradual color change ombre. We can’t even tell where one color ends and one begins! Well done!!!”

Dusty Sunrise soap by Bubbledream

Maja wins a $25 gift certificate from Mad Micas!

Now, for the juried category! There was much discussion about first and second place among the jury members. Ultimately, grand prize goes to Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks in Indiana. She received 327 out of 350 points from the jury members for her Scallop Ombre soap! Teri has been participating in the challenges for nearly a year now and this is her fourth time placing. Her soaps are always meticulous with flawless batters and beautiful designs. Her entry this month is no different:

Scallop Ombre soap by Tree Marie Soapworks

Congratulations to Teri for winning a $100 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body! Click on the photo of her soap to read about it, as well as one other she attempted for the challenge on her Facebook page.

Equally amazing is the second place winner, Jayme Waldo of Jayme Jayne Inc. in Idaho who received 319 out of 350 points for her Glacier Ice soap. The smooth ombre transition combined with the unique shape and presentation of her soap is truly fantastic – especially for her very first ombre soap!

Glacier Ice soap by Jayme Jayne Inc.

Jayme wins a $75 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body. Be sure to click on the photo of her soap to read more about her soap on her blog.

Third place is yet another outstanding work! Irina Muzhyla of I.M. Soap in Belarus put in an incredible amount of effort into creating the perfect ombre soap. Her Morning in the Desert soap received 280 out of 350 points. The gradual color change from the sand to the sky to the bright corner of light is truly stunning:

Morning in the Desert by I.M. Soap

Irina’s prize is a $50 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body. She has documented 11 batches of ombre soaps on her blog post, so be sure to check it out by clicking on the photo of her soap!

The Sponsor’s Choice prize goes to Yvonne Foust of The Snoblove Bar in Tennessee for her Mermaids Lagoon soap! Leann Blackey, Creative Director for Elements Bath & Body says, “The color palette is absolutely gorgeous! The ombré was very well done, and that wave effect you were going for turned out well. Congratulations, Yvonne, on all your hard work and also for inspiring others with your beautiful soap! We are looking forward to seeing your new soap collection.”

Mermaids Lagoon by The Snoblove Bar

Yvonne has been participating in the challenges for several years with several award winning entries! She almost didn’t enter her soap this month, but now she’s quite happy that she did! Her prize is a $25 gift certificate from Elements Bath & Body. Congrats! You can read more about her soap by clicking on the photo that is linked to her Instagram post.

The rest of the entries for this month’s challenge, including the top 10 from the juried category can be found HERE, and the rest of the entries from the voted category are posted HERE.

And now, the long awaited announcement for what is coming up next!! We will continue the juried and voted categories for the next two months. July’s challenge will be the Acrylic Fluid Pour Technique with guest teacher Joanne Watkins of Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps. Joanne has participated in the Challenge Clubs a few times, but I was most impressed by what she shared in several Facebook groups about what she was creating with techniques that are inspired by acrylic paint artists. I’m so happy she agreed to show us how it’s done! Here are a few photos of her work:

Acrylic fluid pour technique in the mold by Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps

Cut soaps

You might recognize her Ombre soap from this month’s challenge:

Ombre Fluid Pour technique by Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps

Cut soaps

This is the soap she made for the video tutorial:

Acrylic Fluid Pour technique by Nature’s Potion Handmade Soaps

The juried category will be sponsored by Bramble Berry and the voted category will be sponsored by Symphony Scents, both with the same amazing gift certificate prizes!

For August, we will do Vibrant Soap’s Intaglia technique.

Intaglia soap example by Vibrant Soap

The juried category will be sponsored by Majestic Mountain Sage, and the voted category will be sponsored by Nurture Soap.

September’s technique is 3D shower jelly soaps with guest teacher Helene Glemet of ChezHelene. You might remember Helene’s entry in the CP + MP designs challenge made with this technique:

3D Shower Jelly soap by ChezHelene

We will have one big challenge in September with Rustic Escentuals as our sponsor.

Registration opens Monday for these three months of challenges! Hope you’ll join us!

If you haven’t signed up for notifications, here’s the link:

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I was so honored to be invited to be a speaker at the 19th Annual Alabama Soap Meeting on June 9-10 in Prattville, Alabama. The Alabama Soap & Candle Association (ASCA) asked me to demonstrate a design technique and have a challenge for their members. As members signed up to attend the Meeting, they were given the opportunity to sign up to participate in the challenge, and 18 people decided to take the challenge! I sent them all the video tutorial and written instructions for the Spin Swirl technique on May 1st so they would have a little more than five weeks to prepare their soaps. Bramble Berry provided everything I needed for my demo, so all the large items then became prizes! Grand Prize was the 18-bar slab mold with dividers (plus free registration to next year’s meeting from the ASCA), second place received the KD-7000 scale, and third place was the new Bramble Berry stick blender.

The entries were submitted anonymously so that no one knew who made them except me:

Spin Swirl soaps

Each person who registered for the meeting (which was around 100 people) was given a ballot to place ONE vote for their favorite entry. The great part about doing a challenge in person is being able to smell the soaps as well as see the designs. Here are the winning soaps:

!st: Julie Batchelor, 2nd: Elizabeth Meredith, 3rd: Cheryl Thompson

I also gave honorable mention and a free 3-month registration to the Soap Challenge Club for July, August and September to three other soaps for their outstanding spin swirl designs. Congratulations to Jeanette Cotton, Steve Hulsey, and Jen Merk:

Excellent Spin Swirl soaps

One of my favorite parts about doing soap challenges is hearing participants tell me that they did something they hadn’t done before because of the challenge. There are three participants from the Alabama challenge who had first time experiences, including Lenea Martel who makes hot process soaps exclusively. She made her first cold process soap for this challenge:

Lenea and her spin swirl soap

This is Gloria Orr. She used colors in her soap for the first time!

Gloria and her spin swirl soap

And this is Angel Dobs. She’s been making soap for over 35 years, and this was the first time she had ever made soap in a slab mold!

Angel and her spin swirl soap

Yes, soap challenges are fun! Yes, they might push you out of your comfort zone or help you try something new. And yes, I absolutely love helping soapmakers learn new things and have fun making new techniques! Thank you, ASCA!!

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