Just in case you hadn’t heard who won in the five categories of our Design Mania Contest, you’ll want to read on.
To recap, our July/August issue was entitled, Design Mania, with tutorials on beautiful soap designs, written by some of the best in the business. Following that, we asked readers to do their best at replicating those designs and then we let you vote on them. The results were astounding. Not only were all of the entries spectacular and artfully done, but we were delighted with the world-wide representation among those who entered. Of our five winners, two were from the UK, one from Ireland, one from Italy and one from the US! The winners are listen below, in no certain order:
Color, color, color! Although I know that some of you prefer not to add color to your soaps, a great many of you wouldn’t make a batch without. Why is that? Is a soap not as good uncolored as it is colored? Of course it is! A soap’s performance is not dependent upon color; however, our desire to add color is still important to us and often, to our customers or the recipients of our gifts.
As many soap artisans are truly artists, the appeal of color and design is just too important to bypass and half the fun of making soap is creating colorful designs. Nevertheless, color isn’t important only to the more fanciful among us, but even to those of us who make simpler, one-colored soaps or other not-so-fancy soaps. If we’re making soap that smells like the ocean for instance, we want color that is reminiscent of the ocean, and it makes sense that a rosemary mint soap be green. Moreover, we want our orange scented soap to be. . . well, orange.
Even still, many of us are still confused by color. We don’t know which colorants to use or how to use them properly. Our colors morph or speckle or disappear. How do these soapmakers do it, we ask? Seeing the beautifully swirled and otherwise colored soaps of our sisters and brothers in the soaping world, we know it can be done, but how?
I can’t do the topic justice in just a blog post, but the most common colorants for soap are:
1. Herbs and spices (and other natural sources of color)
2. Ultramarines & oxides
Which one(s) you choose depend upon a few different factors, such as the kind of soap you’re making. Some colorants that work well in melt and pour soap do not work well under the high pH of cold or hot process soap. Sometimes, for the effect we want, a bleeding colorant will add to the design; other times, a non-bleeding colorant is imperative. A number of soapmakers want to use only natural colorants obtained by infusing or powdering herbs, spices and other naturally-derived agents, whether for their properties in the soap for strictly for color.
Your first task is to decide what is important to you when choosing colorants. If bright colors and crisp designs are at the top of your priority list, for instance, choose ultramarines and oxides or micas. If your desire is beautiful coloring that is easily mixed into the soap, and you’re making a once-color batch or you want your colors to blend a bit, then FD&C colors are just fine. If you’re looking for natural colorants, it’s herbs, spices, etc. Once you decide, you can purchase your colorants and you’re on your way to making colorful soaps.
In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about natural colorants.
Speaking of color and design, don’t forget to enter our contest! Details can be found here: http://saponifier.com/design-mania-contest-submissions/
Until next time, may your days be filled with colored bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier
What kind of soapmaker are you? Do you plan out your offerings far in advance? Do you spend time developing intricate designs and precise colors? Or, do you make soap as the spirit moves you? Do you prefer soap with simpler colors and patterns, either because you’re not the fancy kind or to speed production?
A more important question to consider is whether it’s important or not to plan far ahead, to make artistically designed soaps, to be a free spirit or to keep it simple.
The answer, of course is, it depends–on a number of factors.
For some of soapmakers, simply making soap is the satisfaction, be it fancy or simple, unusually shaped or rectangle, scented or not, it doesn’t matter. The magic of combining the alkali and oils and getting lovely soap is a reward unto itself. For others, the design part of making soap is a large part of the attraction. Artistic souls are moved by the possibilities of making patterns in striking color combinations and it keeps them going.
As for planning, well, planners know whom they are and free-spirits know whom they are! For some, planning is painful and stifles creativity, so they make what they want when the spirit moves them. Others find that careful planning is the only way to get soap made and made well.
So then, should we all be striving for the same outcome? Absolutely not!
If you’re selling soap, you realize that all things about your nature must be tempered by business demands. It’s a simple fact that you cannot run a successful business without a good degree of planning, regardless of whether you enjoy it or not. You also realize that you need to produce soap as quickly and as efficiently as possible in order to maximize time and thus, profits. This realization usually forces us to streamline our creativity into something that we can do easily and can reasonably replicate. Hobbyists, on the other hand, you have the freedom to spend as much time as you like to develop your skills and put your artistic abilities to work.
Even so, I hope that each soapmaker finds his or her “sweet spot.” Gorgeous or utilitarian, rectangular or round, full of additives or not, well-planned or by-the-seat-of-your-pants, all have a place and a purpose. Finding your purpose and working with your personality is the key to success, however you define it. The Saponifier’s goal is to open you up to the possibilities to help you on your way.
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles & wax.
Beth Byrne, for the Saponifier
PS – Subscribers, watch your inbox today for the 15th anniversary issue! If you’re not a subscriber, quick! You have a little time to make sure you get in on the fun: http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/
We’re so excited about this upcoming issue of the Saponifier! Due to be released on July 1st, it is our 15th anniversary edition. To celebrate, we wanted this one to be beautiful, fun and full of design ideas for making cold process soap. We affectionately call it, “DesignMania.” Some of the best in the biz are showing off their design tutorials, along with plenty of photos so that you can learn these techniques to try on your own. Doesn’t that sound like fun?
What? You’re not a subscriber? You can fix that, you know! Readers worldwide subscribe to the Saponifier since it’s a digital publication–no shipping to worry about. You have your magazine right at your fingertips with just a download. Couldn’t be easier. If you haven’t subscribed yet, follow this link: http://saponifier.com/subscriptions/
As always, we also feature helpful columnists who teach you, inform you and otherwise help you as a soapmaker, bath & body maker and candle maker. Melinda Coss is teaching us about balancing design with business, and Marla Bosworth instructs us on writing a business plan. Yours Truly regaled you with a review of the amazing HSCG conference in Raleigh, NC. But we also have two new writers. Sue Finley, our Potpourri column writer and Debbie Sturdevant, our resident herbal expert, who will be sharing with us through her column, Herbal Wisdom. Sue is writing about inspiration in soap design and Debbie is revisiting an old favorite, Calendula. She’s even included a couple of her favorite recipes!
Share the fun with us on July 1st. You know you want to!
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne for the Saponifier
PS – Soap designs just beg for a contest. Stay tuned. :-)
Have you seen the beautiful cold processed soaps that soapers are creating?
In various places on the internet, you’ll see beautiful multi-color swirls, swirl designs with their own names, peaked tops, cupcake soaps, and soaps that look like cake–and that’s just the beginning, swirls, twirls and whirls abound. I am impressed daily by what my fellow soapmakers are capable of, most of them better than what I am able to do. I feel that I make a good quality soap, but not one as gorgeous and imaginative as what I see from some of my colleagues. It’s truly enjoyable to gaze in wonder and delight at their creations.
It makes me wonder, however, is a plain jane bar of soap acceptable anymore? Will a bar of one color, no swirls, no peaks and no design be received with as much joy as the bar that bowls you over with its intricacy? Might the soaper who makes that plain bar be seen as a lesser soapmaker than her fancier counterpart? I wonder if the bar has been raised or is in the process thereof (yes, pun intended) to require a soap not only to be well made, but gorgeous, too.
So far, the soapmakers I’ve seen have been very supportive of each other’s work and it makes me pleased to be in the company of such individuals. I have seen men and women who cheer each other on and who freely pass along hints and favorite suppliers. I hope that continues and that it is widespread, not just where I hang out. I do wonder, however, where soapmaking is taking us as an industry and whether this will separate the novice from the professional and whether the customer will eventually demand artistic soap.
What is your opinion on the matter? What do you make?
Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
I’ve been checking out hundreds of photos of soap recently and I’ve been so impressed with the artistry that has been displayed by my fellow soapmakers.
I thought back to the days when I first began reading about making soap. Not only were pictures harder to come by, but soapmakers just were not doing as much with their soaps. Yes, they were adding color, spices, herbs, and scent, but not the lovely designs I’m seeing now.
Also, the first design, it seems to me, was the swirl and we saw lots of one color swirls out there. Shortly thereafter, we began seeing multi-color swirls. It didn’t take long for even more ideas for beautiful designs to be employed. We began seeing soaps that looked like desserts, layers, brand new types of swirls, and so on. I like to think that the Saponifier, among other sources, assisted soapmakers in inspiring one another to kick things up a notch. What I see now is nothing less than astounding!
And yet, a handcrafted bar of soap is beauty in its own right, whether it’s a plain castile bar or a more primitive looking bar.
I know that some soapmakers feel frustrated at not accomplishing a design that is as beautiful or as artistic as that of another soapmaker’s. That feeling is unnecessary, however, because creating a good quality bar of soap is the goal. Further work to make it even more visually appealing is simply icing on the cake.
That is not to say we shouldn’t be challenged to try new techniques or to create our own, only that we shouldn’t lose sight of what is truly important, a good soap. If you’ve gotten to that point, you are already a master.
Therefore, now that you are a master, forge your own path. Do you find swirling hard to do well? Try something else! Let your imagination wander and free yourself to experiment. You might come up with the next new trend! And even if you don’t, know that the fact that you make great soap is enough.
Until next time, keep yourselves in bubbles and wax!