How to Make Decorative Handmade Soap Bars
Ever wondered how soapmakers put decorative circles into cold process soap bars? The answer, while simple, is a little bit time consuming. To create your own decorative cold process soaps like the ones pictured here – a limited edition Green Goddess soap I carried for a short time in my shop – you’ll basically need to create two batches of soap. The first batch of soap will be for creating handmade soap balls. You can leave it uncolored – as I did these – or you can color than a different color than what your main batch of soap for the bars will be. (Learn how to make homemade cold process soap here.)
You may not want to discount the water for the batch of soap you’ll be making your soap balls from as it will make a soap that starts out softer which allows them to more easily be shaped into soap balls. Once you unmold your first batch of soap, you’ll simply remove some of the soap in small chunks and roll them into a ball with your hands. You may want to wear gloves for this process as there will still be some lye present in the bar. It generally takes several days before all of the lye has been used up in the saponification process, and this can dry out your hands if you don’t wear gloves. Roll your soap balls into different sizes for a varied look.
Once your soap has been rolled into balls, you are ready to create your second batch of soap. This soap will make the bars. Color this soap a different color from the soap balls so that the soap balls will be visible in your final bars of homemade soap. Before you mix your soap, line your loaf soap molds and place a selection of different sized soap balls along the bottom of your lined mold, then proceed with the soapmaking process. Once your new batch of soap reaches trace, simply pour the soap slowly and gently into your molds so that they cover the soap balls. This will result in soap bars that have circles throughout them when you cut your soap loaf into bars. If you’d also like soap balls that protrude from the top of the soap, simply press soap balls into the top of the soap you’ve poured before covering and insulating.
Here is another variation of this soapmaking technique. For this soap – a limited edition pear scented soap I crafted and sold one Christmas season – I used two batches of two different colored soaps to create soap balls, one white and one green. As my final soap bar was scented with a fragrance oil that contained vanilla and I knew it would turn brown, I did not need to add any colorant to that batch. I simply lined my molds as with the previous soap and placed the multi-colored soap balls in the bottom of the lined mold. Once the soap was unmolded and sliced into balls, the circles became part of the soap design.
Looking for other ways to make your handmade cold process soaps more decorative? Try out my tutorial for making hand stamped soaps. Also be sure to try out my Homemade Skin Loving Soap Recipe! What soapmaking techniques or processes do you use to make your handmade soaps more creative?
August 27, 2013 at 1:59 pm
Could I do this with hot process soap?
Rebecca D. Dillon
August 28, 2013 at 7:08 am
If the soap is soft enough once you cut it into bars. I’ve never made HP soap so I don’t know how hard it is once cut.
April 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm
I want to learn how to make difference soaps…
June 5, 2014 at 11:51 am
How long after making the first batch is made do roll your balls, is it just after the first we hours? Sorry if this is a stupid question. I’m just thinking about having the right softness for rolling.
Rebecca D. Dillon
June 5, 2014 at 5:02 pm
I roll mine into balls when I unmold them.
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