Soap carving is a fun and safe hobby for kids to do on the weekends and during the holidays.
There are many things to carve, including cartoon characters, animals, and public transport.
It’s important to mention that because soap carving requires the use of sharp tools, children will need adult supervision at all times.
If you’re ready to start this wholesome and clean activity, here is a beginner’s guide to soap carving for beginners.
What Is Soap Carving?
Soap carving involves using a sharp object to carve soap into the design of your choice.
The craft has an interesting backstory, and if your kids don’t like soap, history proves that they will love it once they start with this exciting new hobby. Soap carving began in 1923 with a marketing campaign with Proctor & Gamble.
Ivory soap manufacturer Proctor & Gamble were having difficulties selling soap, and they believed it was because children didn’t like the experience they had with soap.
Their mothers used it to wash their faces, and it stung when it got in their eyes. Bath time was always a nightmare for mothers, and so they stopped buying soap. To resolve the issue, they hired Edward Bernays, a public relations expert who came up with the idea of a National Soap Sculpture Competition.
His marketing strategy was a great success, and within one year, over twenty million children across the country were creating carving projects out of soap. Professional artists and architects judged the finalist’s work in an exhibition in New York City.
What Materials Do You Need For Soap Carving?
You will need several tools to get started with soap carving. These include bars of soap, a popsicle knife and a scalpel. Keep reading to find out what materials you will need for soap carving.
- Popsicle Knife
- Sharp Pen
- Kitchen paper
- Chopping Board
- Soap Carving Kit
#1 Bars of Soap
Even if you only plan on having your child make one soap carving, it’s best to have several bars of soap on standby just in case mistakes are made.
#2 A Popsicle Knife
A popsicle knife is a lot safer than a real knife. Here is a quick step-by-step guide on how to make one:
#1 Gather Your Materials And Tools
You will need three popsicle sticks, two rubber bands, a ruler, a pencil, and a pair of wire cutters.
#2 Get The Blade Ready
Use the ruler and pencil to draw two half-inch lines to form a part triangle. The lines should start at the top middle of any end of the popsicle stick. Use the wire cutter to cut along the lines to form a sharp point.
#3 Get The Switch Ready
Get another popsicle stick, measure and mark 1.25 inches from the top, and use the wire cutter to cut this.
You will then need to measure and mark ¼ of an inch off the longer part of the stick and cut that with the wire cutter.
#4 Put It Together
Lay the popsicle stick that hasn’t been cut on your work surface (this will be the handle).
Measure and mark 1 inch at the end of the popsicle stick. Lay the stick with the sharp end onto the marked stick.
The uncut end should rest on the marked line. Use a rubber band to secure the blade to the handle, don’t wrap the rubber band too tight because it should be able to rotate at a 180-degree angle.
#5 Secure The Switch
Take the ¼ of an inch piece and lay it at the top of the other end of the popsicle stick.
The two rounded ends should be facing each other. Take the 1.25-inch piece and put it on top of the ¼-inch piece.
The two rounded ends should be facing each other. Wrap the rubber band around the switch securely so that it doesn’t move.
#6 How To Use The Knife
Close the blade, and to open it, squeeze the switch.
#3 A Scalpel
If your children are old enough to use sharp objects, there’s no need to make a popsicle knife, a scalpel will do.
#4 A Sharp Pencil
Use a sharp pencil to draw the design into the soap. You will need to dig slightly to scrape the basic shape. But don’t dig too hard, or the pencil will break.
#5 A Sheet of Paper
Paper is used to design a template allowing your little one to trace the outline onto the soap.
#6 A Pair of Scissors
You will need a pair of scissors to cut out the template.
#7 A Sheet of Kitchen Paper
Once the project is complete, use the paper towel to remove any pieces of soap shavings still on the soap.
#8 A Teaspoon
Use a teaspoon for scraping the soap brands design off the surface and for any other scraping required for the project.
#9 A Paper Clip
Paper clips have a decent sharp edge when unwrapped to add finer details to the design.
#10 A Chopping Board
Do not work on your project on a table, desk, or kitchen countertop without placing a chopping board over it. Since you’ll be using sharp objects, this will protect your furniture against scratches.
#11 Some Newspaper
Laying newspaper over your work surface will make the cleaning process a lot easier. Once the project is complete, simply wrap the soap shavings up in the newspaper and throw them in the trash.
#12 A Soap Carving Kit
You can purchase a soap carving kit if you have a busy schedule and don’t want to waste time searching for the tools individually.
It will contain everything required for soap carving, including the soap, carving tools, and soap carving templates.
How To Soften The Soap For Carving
Hard soap makes for difficult carving, soap can get hard after a while, so if you’ve got some old soap you want to put to good use, you can still use it.
All is not lost if you get a hard bar of soap because you can soften it so it’s suitable for carving. Here are the steps you will need to take:
- gather List
- Wash dish cloth
- Wrap Soap
- Heat Soap
- Start Carving
#1 Gather The Tools
You will need the following tools to soften your soap:
- A dishcloth (not the fluffy type)
- Plastic wrap (the kind used for food)
- A microwave
#2 Wash The Dish Cloth
Dishcloths usually have color in them. To ensure the color doesn’t transfer onto the soap, give it a scrub in a bowl of washing powder and water.
#3 Wrap the Soap
Squeeze the dishcloth dry, lay it out on your work surface, put the soap bar in the middle, and wrap it up.
#4 Heat The Soap
Put the soap in the microwave for 20 seconds at 500 watts. Don’t heat the soap for any longer than this, or it will burst.
#5 Start Working On Your Project
Remove the soap from the microwave and start working on your project.
How To Carve Soap A Step By Step Guide
Carving soap is a simple process. Kids are not afraid to get creative and will come up with plenty of ingenious ways to complete the project. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to carve soap.
Gather your materials together, as mentioned, you will need some soap, a popsicle knife, a sharp pencil, a paper clip, a chopping board, and some newspaper.
Lay newspaper over your work surface, then place the chopping board on top and lay a couple of sheets of newspaper over it.
Lay a sheet of paper on the chopping board, place the soap bar on it and trace the outline of the soap. This is what you will use for the template.
Now draw the image of what you want to carve inside the shape of the soap. Be sure to draw it exactly as you want it on the carving.
Using a pair of scissors, cut out your image, lay it on top of the bar of soap, and use the pencil to trace the image onto the shape. You will need to dig into the soap slightly to get a proper outline.
Use your popsicle knife to cut away the pieces of soap outside the design. To prevent the soap from breaking, use a peeling motion as if you were peeling an apple or a potato. Don’t slice off large chunks at a time. Continue doing this until the design is all you have left.
Smooth the design out with a paper clip. Glide over it, removing any rough edges.
Wet the kitchen towel and wipe over the design to remove any particles remaining on the soap.
To get rid of the pencil marks, use the popsicle knife to further dig out the design, which will remove any coloring.
11 Soap Carving Ideas For Beginners
As mentioned, children are extremely creative, and it won’t’ take long before they start coming out with the wildest soap carving ideas.
But in the meantime, a few suggestions include cartoon characters, animals, and public transport.
#1 Cartoon Characters
All children love cartoons and have their favorite characters. Some of the most popular cartoon characters include Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Charlie Brown, and Homer Simpson.
If you’ve ever seen children interact with animals, you’ll know they have a special connection. Animals your child might want to make into a soap carving include a cat, a dog, a fish, or a rabbit.
#3 Public Transport
From Thomas the Tank Engine to Tayo the Little Blue Bus, and Dusty the Crophopper, your kids will have plenty of fun carving out their favorite modes of public transport.
#4 Flowers and Plants
Flowers and plants make good soap carving designs because they are simple to draw. Colored soap makes these designs extra special.
Until your children are old enough to own their own gadgets like cell phones and iPads, they can create a make-believe version with a soap carving.
#6 Favorite Book Covers
What books do your children love? There are so many popular children’s books such as Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh, and Mrs Pepperpot. Get them to create their favorite book covers and add a personal twist.
#7 Favorite Actor/Actress
Who is your child’s favorite actor or actress? There are plenty of pictures available online to help create the soap carving.
#8 Positive Messages
Instead of a picture, have your kids carve positive words of affirmation into soap. They make the perfect gifts for friends and family.
#9 Christmas Tree/Easter Egg
Keep your children busy during the holidays and have them carve out Christmas trees, Easter eggs, pumpkins, and anything else symbolic of the holiday.
#10 Road Signs/Traffic Signals
A great way to teach your children about the highway code is to have them make road signs and traffic signals out of soap carvings.
#11 Fruits and Vegetables
You can get extra creative with making fruits and vegetables by using scented soap to match the smell of the fruit or vegetable.
Not all soaps will have the corresponding fragrance, but you will find pineapple, orange, lemon, apple, peach, cucumber, carrot, peppermint, lemongrass, watermelon, and much more.
With a bit of research, you’ll find plenty of scented soaps to make fruit and vegetable soap carvings.
What Is The Best Soap For Carving
You will need to do some soap testing to determine which soap is best for you. It shouldn’t be too hard, and neither should it be too soft.
Somewhere in the middle will do. Don’t use round soap as it’s harder to carve. Rectangular soap is easier to work with.
However, as your kids get more experienced, they can graduate to round soap.
Since Ivory soap is where it all began, you might want to try that first However, it’s only available in white, so if you want to add some color to your design, you’ll need to try out other brands.
Once you get your children into soap carving, boredom will become a thing of the past. There are so many designs to make that their holidays and weekends will be packed with fun-filled soap carving activities.