Category Archives: Challenges and Q&A

Favorite Soap Dish Challenge!

Soap dispensers and barsOne of my favorite soap dishes is located in my guest bathroom. It is a creamy white bowl filled with clear, colored marbles. It is fun, simple and just a tiny bit sassy. There are tons of soap dishes out there and they are made out of a variety of materials. Glass, plastic, resin, ceramics, wood, bamboo, you name it!

For the next two weeks, I want you to share pictures of your favorite soap dish! You can email them to us or share on Facebook.

You can submit your entry either via email (blog@thesage.com), Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or on Facebook. Tag us on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter with  @mmtnsage and use the hashtags #FavSoapDish and #TheSage. (If you need help sharing your photos, let us know! We would be glad to help.) You must be an existing MMS customer to qualify. Submissions will be accepted until February 17th. The MMS team will then vote on their favorite soaps dishes.

Winners will receive hand selected items from my private stash! You won’t want to miss out. Happy photoing and I can’t wait to see what everyone shares!

Taylor

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January 2016 Soap Challenge Club at Great Cakes Soapworks!

It’s time for another Soap Challenge Club over at Great Cake Soapworks! Amy is sharing her tutorial for Elaine Wright’s version of the Circling Taiwan Swirl. These challenges are lots of fun, a great way to learn a few new techniques, a chance for meeting soapmakers from around the world and getting inspiration for your next soaps!

Inside piece of Circling Taiwan Swirl
Inside piece of Circling Taiwan Swirl
As the sponsor for experienced soapmakers (making soap for over 2 years), we are giving away the following prizes; a $100 gift certificate for the grand prize, $75 gift certificate for 2nd place, $50 gift certificate for 3rd place, and $25 gift certificate for Sponsor’s Choice.

Circling Taiwan Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks
Circling Taiwan Swirl by Great Cakes Soapworks
To join, you just need to have a basic understanding of cold-processed soapmaking. If you are ready to join, you will need to register and pay a small fee of $6.95 and you will gain access to the private area where you will be able to read instructions and watch the instructional video. Everyone who documents the making and final reveal of their soap and then shares it on the link-up will be eligible to win any of the prizes!

You don’t have much time to sign up! Join today because this challenge looks like fun!

Deadlines (all will occur at 2:00pm CST):
January 4-11, 2015 – This registration will be OPEN
January 20-23, 2015 – Link-up for submissions will be OPEN
January 24-26, 2015 – Voting will be OPEN
January 27, 2015 – Winners will be contacted!

register-now

Andee

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Mosaic Soap Challenge – Winners!

A mosaic sun.
A mosaic sun.
I loved every single entry in the Mosaic Soap Challenge. Each entry was a challenge in of itself and I had my breath taken away by each entry. How were we supposed to choose two winners with all of these wonderful entries? Join me this afternoon to review our two winners!

The winners are… (drum roll please) Christine and Svetlana! Congratulations! Watch your mail boxes for your prizes. There are some really fun things inside!

Finished soaps!
Finished soaps made by Christine!

Finished soap, Coloured.
Finished soap, Coloured. Made by Svetlana.

We had a really hard time choosing the winners. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work with us and all of our readers! We had so much fun admiring your pictures!

Andee

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Mosaic Soap Challenge – Svetlana

Welcome back! I’m excited to share two more mosaic inspired soaps with you today. Allow me to introduce you to Svetlana, who will be sharing the soaps she made.

Drawing mosaic design.
Drawing the mosaic design.
Coloring the design.
Coloring the designs.

I like the jewelry made by the famous jewel manufactory “FreyWille”. I like them for their originality and individuality. I like them for their uniqueness and vibrancy. Overall – I like them!

Creating the rim.
Creating the rim.
Filling the design with colored soap.
Filling the design with colored soap.

And my love could not stop me on the way of creating my “jewelry”. Meet them! Two “bracelets” from my personal latest collection: “Austria” and “Coloured”. I like both! I hope you enjoy them too!

Completely filled designs.
Completely filled designs.
Close up detail of the designs.
Close up detail of the designs.

To create this soap I chose some of the most famous designs of the jewelry house “FreyWille”. I spent a few hours drawing the future of soap and mosaic design fundamentals. Further it was filled with different colors, imitating mosaic solution. The “rim” of the soap follows the well-known designs jewelry. The main part of soap is made by cold process with powdered charcoal and fragranced with “Ginger Pomelo”. Very elegant, isn’t it?

Finished soap, Austria.
Finished soap, Austria.
Finished soap, Coloured.
Finished soap, Coloured.

You can see more of Svetlana’s work by visiting her blog.

Beautiful work! I stumbled down the rabbit hole of the internet looking at the FreyWillie designs and I think you will too. See you tomorrow to showcase our winners!

Andee

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Mosaic Soap Challenge – Christine

Welcome back! I’m excited to share another mosaic inspired soap with you today. Allow me to introduce you to Christine, who will be sharing the soap she made.

Looking at the beautiful mosaic pictures in the blog post had my brain working overtime. I have been on a journey this past year on creating soaps with pictures and been learning several new techniques to accomplish that. Most of my soap is hot processed, but I sometimes combine cold process, hot process and M&P to get the desired effects.

My first thought when I saw the mosaic pictures was to create embeds. I tried to decide on which one of the pictures was going to be the best inspiration. I liked the sun. That would have been fairly easy and I thought that it would be a lovely motif with the MMS Ginger Pomelo FO.

But here’s the thing about inspiration. If it’s not right, I procrastinate. I’m still mulling it over, and it takes me a while to get going. Then, I remembered a mosaic project I did a few years ago. Broken pieces of tile, glass pebbles, sea shells, ceramic pieces . . . all put on a wall behind our wood burning stove. It turned out great, but we lost the house and couldn’t take it with us. I do hope the new owners enjoyed the artwork. Besides, If I was doing an actual mosaic, I might have more control over the image and may be able to do something a bit more challenging. I chose the spider, because with Halloween coming up, I might actually sell the soap, since these bars will be going for premium price.

For the fragrance I decided on an old sample bottle of Caribbean Breeze (BBW type) I had sitting around that I personally didn’t care for much. I spiced it up and made it a bit funky with a few drops of dill essential oil that was just sitting in the drawer and wasn’t doing anything. It turned out not too bad and really took some of that sickly sweetness out of the FO.

Laying out my supplies.
Laying out my supplies.
At that point, the stage was set. Here are my supplies laid out:

I needed blank canvas, so I made a batch of plain soap, some of which I molded for white bars, the rest I colored in different colors and molded in smaller molds.

The next day, I unmolded and cut my white canvas bars and lots and lots of soap tiles.

I knew I needed liberal amounts of rubbing alcohol. I use a 1:1 mixture of rubbing alcohol and witch hazel. And some M&P soap to fill in for the grout and to glaze the soap tiles and hold it all together.

Also, I laid out a few tools, but turned out I still needed a small paring knife and some tweezers, which I went to get later.

Other things to have around are a clean cloth to keep your work surface clean. Rubbing alcohol will make the colored soap (especially the black) bleed and mess up your surface. I had to make sure it kept it clean. Also, with the alcohol making the soap tacky, it seemed like every single dog hair in the house came flying to my work spot and I had to be careful to keep those out of the equation.

Laying out my mosaic.
Laying out my mosaic.
Here I am starting to lay out my mosaic:

I found that liberal amounts of rubbing alcohol will soften the surface layer of the soap and keep the little mosaic pieces sticky and pliable for quite a while, so it’s a double edged sword. It makes it easier to stick them together, but also very easy to get unwanted things stuck to them. That is where the tweezers came in handy. It helped avoid finger prints and transfer of colors from other soap tiles.

The mosaic starting to take shape.
The mosaic starting to take shape.
The mosaics are starting to shape up nicely. I purposely made the little tiles different thicknesses to heighten the effect.

I set the soaps on the little screen to allow air flow. They are quite soft and sticky at this point and need to dry out.

Brushing on glycerin soap.
Brushing on glycerin soap.
All the tile work is done and it’s time for the grout. I tried brushing the M&P and immediately found that the black soap started bleeding and dragging color of the the rest of the tiles. So I had to carefully alternate spraying alcohol and dripping soap into all the little spaces and just very gently brushing along the edges of the soap bars.

Then give it a few minutes to dry up and harden, then another spray with alcohol and a thin layer brushed over the top of it to glaze it all and seal it off.

Then the bars were set aside to cool and dry for a couple of hours.

They are still a bit soft but not quite as tacky. Just perfect to trim all the little drips off the sides with my paring knife and clean them up a bit.

Finished soaps!
Finished soaps!
Tada! Here are the finished Mosaic Soaps! I will simply call them Black Widow. The slightly funky fragrance is just perfect.

Cool! Being the Halloween junkie that I am, I love this soap! See you tomorrow with our last entry!

Andee

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Mosaic Soap Challenge – April

Welcome back! I’m excited to share another mosaic inspired soap with you today. Allow me to introduce you to April, who will be sharing the soap she made.

Finished and cut bars of soap.
Finished and cut bars of soap.
When I saw this soap challenge, I admit, I was intimidated. Not being terribly creative in the drawing department as even stick-men elude me, I was afraid I would not be able to create a picture, with pieces of soap. Nevertheless, challenge accepted!

 Adding alcohol and glycerin
Adding alcohol and glycerin

Colored glycerin soap cooling.
Colored glycerin soap cooling.
Skimming the top of glycerin soap.
Skimming the top of glycerin soap.
Cutting pieces.
Cutting pieces.

Since the challenge instructions said we could use melt and pour but I didn’t have any on hand (I’ve never bought or used it) I thought, no problem – I’ll just make my own! I set about making glycerin soap and managed to get through the stages okay. Cooked soap, added alcohol and glycerin (stirring carefully so the soap would not explode out of the pot), added sugar water a little at a time. The soap looked like it was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. I was so excited that I forgot to test the clear liquid on a cold glass to check for actual transparency. Alas, this soap is not transparent. I colored the soap with different micas (I thought a picture would come to mind, uh huh) and scented the batch with a mix of Lavender and Cedarwood EO’s because I did not want to chance the soap doing something weird with fragrance oil.

A week later, it was time to create a mosaic. I began slicing up my soap. At first carefully, piece by tiny piece, and eventually just chopping it up because I was beginning to become impatient with the tediousness of slicing and separating each piece individually. Now I had a bunch of pieces of glycerin soap.

Attempting to melt in microwave.
Attempting to melt in microwave.

Making layer 2.
Making layer 2.
Making layer 1.
Making layer 1.
Making layer 3.
Making layer 3.

I had formed a loose image of the mosaic I could attempt with the colors I had chosen. First, I tried to melt my white glycerin base soap in the microwave only to have it foam right out of the container. So instead, I melted it slowly on the stove. Then carefully layered, piece by piece, my “tiles” into my mold. Spritzing each layer with alcohol and adding the melted soap in between each layer. As I neared the top of the mold, I knew…

  1. I should have brought in a 4 year old to help.
  2. My mosaic wouldn’t look anything like the picture in my head/li>
  3. I should have used a Bubblegum or Birthday Cake type fragrance.
  4. I was going to have to post pictures on the internet (oh no’s!)
  5. Mosaics are not my thing.
Cutting the soap.
Cutting the soap.

Finished and cut bar of soap.
Finished and cut bar of soap.
Cut bars of soap.
Cut bars of soap.
Finished and cut bars of soap.
Finished and cut bars of soap.

I learned quite a bit while attempting this challenge. I enjoyed making glycerin soap and will do it again in an attempt to achieve transparent soap. As for the Mosaic, well this was a journey, one I wouldn’t care to take again for pride’s sake. I decided one shot was enough, no reason to further taunt my ego with a mosaic mess on top of soap. Another attempt would just remind me of my grade school days in art class trying to make a picture with pieces of tissue paper and glue. I will limit my creativity to more abstract mediums. Thank you once again for pushing us to grow with this challenge. I tried :-) I look forward to witnessing some real artistic works of art in other entries!!!

April

Neato bandito, April! I’m really impressed with your attempt to make your own glycerin soap. You have challenged me to consider trying something new.

Andee

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Mosaic Soap Challenge – Shelly

I sent out a challenge calling all soapmakers to submit their mosaic inspired soaps! I must say I have gotten some amazing responses. Allow me to introduce you to Shelly, who will be sharing the soap she made.

Mosaic Inspiration from a river bed. Photography by Mandy Hackett.
Mosaic Inspiration from a river bed. Photography by Mundy Hackett.
Hello, Artisan Shelly Here! For this Majestic Mountain Sage Soap Challenge of creating a Mosaic Soap Inspiration, I found many famous paintings using the mosaic backdrop. In my search for something original, I found that the greatest Mosaic artist to be the Maker of the Universe. Life itself has explosions of Mosaic Art from the colorful rocky riverbeds to the Majestic Mountains. My First submission is that of a Colorful Colorado Rocky River Bed. I have submitted a picture that was taken from a photographer named Mundy Hackett.

River Rock Mosaic Soap.
River Rock Mosaic Soap.
For my scent choice on this submission I have chosen to use the Majestic Mountain Sage Fragrance named “Just For You”.

I can just imagine floral scented water running off of a Majestic Mountain and running right into a riverbed. When I inhale this scent from MMS, I feel as if wild roses and other sweet floral are scattered throughout the side of a mountain where the run off into a riverbed would be romantically refreshing.

Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park
Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park
My second submission is that of a slab of stone cut out of the splendid Firework Mosaic Mountains in China where you can find a national geological park(Zhangye Danxia Landform). This Geo Park is full of Brilliant streaks of color that are embedded right into the actual rock of the mountainside.

Danxia inspired mosaic soap.
Danxia inspired mosaic soap.
In the Gansu province you can find these impressive mountains of colors that make up a landscape that stretches for about 300 square kilometers and is worthy of a fantasy world. Its a little rain climatic zone that shares with the Gobi desert and travelers say that the park is reminiscent of bottles with colored sand . This show of random colors on the layers was formed by successive deposits of minerals of varying pigmentation in the rock layers. The Indo-Australian collision and tectonic plate of Eurasia were responsible for causing ripples in the relief that resulted in this impressive and surreal Mosaic landscape.

I have also submitted a beautiful video that although it is not my own, it showcases the Mosaic Mountains of this national park in China for your viewing pleasure. A poster named NiNaWavs2U, has helped bring to life the splendor of this Geo Form Park. Please watch and enjoy!! My information came from many places but mostly from the following Youtube Video and its corresponding information:

Youtube video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfgOUFwtxxk

From My Own Fragrance Line: “Mosaic Muse”

Just like the Mosaic Art we find in paintings that is a collection of colors and shapes, I took the same concept and developed my own Fragrance. A Sweet but Weathered blend of Pure Wilderness with splashes of Mint, Clover leaf and Evergreen trees along with misty morning hues of Cedar and Nutmeg. An Earthy Sweet Scent that gives this special Mosaic Soap Lots of Justice!!

Thanks a Million to the Good Folks at Majestic Mountain Sage,

ArtisanShelly

Wow! Shelly’s soaps are great! But so are the others I have waiting to be shared. Come back tomorrow for another amazing Mosaic Challenge Soap!

Andee

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Mosaics Soap Challenge

A mosaic sun.
A mosaic sun.
Attention all soap makers! It is time for another challenge and we want to see your soaps! The theme of this challenge is Mosaics. To get your imagination going, I am going to share several photos taken of a tile mosaic at the local university, Utah State University. We want to see how you would make these beautiful mosaics into soap.

A woman's face in mosaic.
A woman’s face in mosaic.
All participants must submit a photo of their soap and a description. The description must include a write up about the scent, and how the soap came about. Here is your chance to use some creative writing. Make us excited about your soap.

A pterodactyl mosaic.
A pterodactyl mosaic.
Your submission can be Cold Process, Hot Process or even Melt & Pour soap. You can submit your entry either via email (blog@thesage.com) or on Facebook. You must be an existing MMS customer to qualify. Submissions will be accepted until September 4th. The MMS staff will then vote on their favorite soaps based on appearance and accompanying description. Two winners will be selected. On September 8th, we will announce the winners and share their photos.

A spider mosaic.
A spider mosaic.
Winners will receive a $50 Gift Certificate, a 100 pack of Jumbo Heat & Seal Tea Bags and a 1 oz bottle of my favorite fragrance, Wicked! You won’t want to miss out. We will be doing a special project with the Heat & Seal Tea Bags after winners are announced. Happy creating and good luck!

Andee

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Ebru Soap Challenge: Tatsiana’s Crazy Owl

One of my favorite things about sponsoring Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club is to see all the amazing soaps that are made! Each soapmaker has their own unique perspective and ideas. Today, I would like you to “meet” one of the winners of the recent Ebru Soap Challenge!

tatiana-ebruTatsiana made this fun and crazy owl soap and tied for third place. Her blog shows the not only the pictures of the steps she followed to make the owl, but the pictures that inspired her. I can’t decide if I love the eyes, the heart on the belly or the “ear” tufts! Ah, I love the whole design!

I wanted to ask Tatsiana a few questions and I hope you enjoy our “mini” interview!

Andee: When did you start making soap?
Tatsiana: I started to make soap in the end of 2011, and the process of soapmaking grabbed all my thoughts, soul and feelings. But at some point I took a break for 1.5 years, so it’s not that long that I’ve been making soap. For me the design of soap is very important, but the texture of soap and its aesthetics are even more important. I love to work with difficult designs and when I am told it’s impossible to do something, I find a way to do it, maybe not from the first attempt.

A: What is your favorite thing about Amy’s soap challenges?
T: There are several things I like about Amy’s soap challenges: its atmosphere and the interesting assignments which Amy gives us, they make us try something new. I also like the spirit of competition.

A: How much time did this batch of soap take to make?
T: I started to make this batch of soap 11 hours prior to the deadline, and from the beginning of making the batch and the time I cut the soap it took me exactly 4 hours, because I decided to take a recipe with 80% solid oils and butters to make the soap faster, to be able to finish before the deadline. I would not recommend anybody to do it. It took me 7 minutes to complete the design.

A: What advice would you give any soapmaker wanting to try the Ebru technique?
T: An advice in ebru technique… First of all, what is needed is a good recipe, tested fragrance oil, very thin trace and moving fast to implement the technique. But the most important is to know exactly what you will be drawing and to imaging several times in your head how it will look in your soap.

Tatsiana, thank you for taking time to talk to me! Congratulations on a beautiful soap and taking third place in the Ebru Soap Challenge. I think I will have to try the Ebru technique!

Andee

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Ebru Soap Challenge: Svetlana’s Legend of the Pomegranate Tree

One of my favorite things about sponsoring Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club is to see all the amazing soaps that are made! Each soapmaker has their own unique perspective and ideas. Today, I would like you to “meet” one of the winners of the recent Ebru Soap Challenge!

svetlana-ebru Svetlana made this gorgeous soap which was inspired by the poem, “The Legend of the Pomegranate Tree” and she was very kind to share the poem in it’s entirety on her blog in both Russian and English. I recommend popping over to check out the poem as well as the cut pictures of her soap! I’ve counted at least 14 colors that were used, but I could be wrong.

I wanted to ask Svetlana a few questions and I hope you enjoy our “mini” interview!

Andee: When did you start making soap?
Svetlana: The first soap I made almost 4 years ago. It was Melt & Pour soap and I was very happy how it turned out! After all this time I realize that I was only at the beginning of a long and very interesting way of soap making. Now it captures all my thoughts and free time.

A: What is your favorite thing about Amy’s soap challenges?
S: In Amy’s soap challenges the most interesting thing is the possibility to realize all your fantasies in specified conditions of the challenge. It is always very exciting! That is why I am in constant search of new inspirations and every time I try to bring something new.

A: How much time did this batch of soap take to make?
S: Soap “The legend of The pomegranate” was done in one hour. For this time the soap batter allowed me to work with itself. And the design, preparation, implementation – took another two weeks

A: What advice would you give any soapmaker wanting to try the Ebru technique?
S: The main advice to those wishing to try the Ebru technique in soap – don’t be afraid to try! To open your eyes, open your heart and create! As one Ebru artist said “My Ebru heart is open for you!” Fully support her in this!

Svetlana, thank you for taking time to talk to me! Congratulations on a beautiful soap and taking second place in the Ebru Soap Challenge. You have inspired me to try something new!

Andee

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