Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club Pipe Divider Swirl Challenge

Breath of Scandal

Head Image


Please accept my apologies in advance for the extremely long post. My intention was to create something with just the right amount of information – not too much to be overly repetitive for those currently in the competition, yet descriptive enough for those who want to learn the technique. I hope next time to accomplish that in fewer than a gazillion words! Feel free to click here to skip ahead to the feature presentation! 



Here we are – another month, and once again, another challenge…for Amy Warden’s Soap Challenge Club, that is!

July’s Soap Challenge Club brings us a beautiful design technique created by Tania from Soapish. When I first began my journey into the wonderful world of soap making, I scoured the Internet for every bit of information and inspiration I could find. Tania’s video of the making of her Thorns and Roses soap was one of the first designs I fell in love with. I was captivated by the delicate, yet intricate swirls and immediately added the technique to my seemingly endless list of “Gotta Try Techniques”.

Soapish YouTube Video

Thorns and Roses YouTube video by Soapish


Fast forward a little over a year later and what do you know! Tania’s design is the featured technique for the July 2016 Soap Challenge Club! Amy is calling it the Pipe Divider Swirl.

One of the components I love most about Amy’s challenge club is that it really forces me to learn new and different techniques. I actually have tried some of the techniques listed on my “Gotta Try Techniques” list, but to be honest, many of them have yet to be attempted. The Soap Challenge Club creates a strong motivational compulsion to actually try a new technique. At least it does for me. When I register for the current month’s soap challenge, I immediately feel, well…challenged. Challenged to actually attempt the featured technique instead of putting it on a list to try someday, and challenged to replicate the technique to the best of my ability. I have purchased tutorials from previous challenges after the challenge is over, but they don’t seem to spark the same drive, the same surging ambition and passion that a live, cutthroat, and savage competition delivers! (I am kidding of course! Soap makers seem to be among some of the nicest and most caring people I have ever met!)


The Technique

The Pipe Divider Swirl technique requires the use of a slab soap mold and an assortment of sturdy, non absorbent tube-like objects – such as small segments of PVC pipe or PVC couplings – that are arranged inside the mold itself. The pipes are temporarily adhered to the bottom of the mold by dipping the bottoms in a melted wax or hard butter such as cocoa or kokum. Not only does this keep the pipes in place while pouring but it also seals the bottoms and keeps the batter from seeping out into the surrounding soap.

To successfully create the design, the soap batter that fills the pipes inside needs to be different from what is poured outside, or around the pipes. Colors can obviously be combined in any way, but I have noticed the more contrast between the color(s) inside and the one(s) outside, the more pronounced the swirls. Once everything is poured to the desired level, (make sure the inside is the same level as the outside) the pipes are carefully removed keeping the circular designs intact. Swirls are then created by dragging something like a chopstick or skewer through the colors.


There are infinite possibilities for design variations with many soaping techniques and this one proved no exception. This particular technique had a few other elements that added to the variations such as the number of pipes used, sizes of the pipes, swirl design…etc. Sometimes, I love the design freedoms we are given for the soap challenges. Other times, like this one, freedom just sends my brain into design frenzy overload! Thankfully, Amy added a few restrictions:

  • Must be made in a slab mold
  • Exactly four colors – no more, no less
  • Cold process soap only and no embellishments

The restrictions helped a little bit, but even with four colors it was torture to decide which ones to use. Do you realize how many different colors there are in the world, and how many different combinations one can create, even if it’s only using four of them??!! It shouldn’t really matter though. I think sometimes I’d still have a tough time choosing if we were only limited to one single color!


First Attempt

(Click here to skip ahead to the entry soap)

The first color combination that I finally settled on was inspired by one of my favorite summer blouses. Not only do I love the colors and the way they work together but I also love the texture of it. 


For the inside circles, I used some PVC pipe couplings leftover from various projects, and some I picked up at our local hardware store. Tania initially used melted beeswax to adhere her pipes but found them too difficult to remove. She mentioned trying melted cocoa butter or soy wax the next time for easier removal. I chose to use cocoa butter. 


Mold Setup

Dipping bottoms in melted cocoa butter and adhering to bottom of mold


One thing I quickly learned:

melted cocoa butter + hot summer day = don’t expect it to re-harden any time soon!

I had to put my mold in the refrigerator after I dipped the pipes and placed them in the mold. That seemed to be the only way the cocoa butter would harden enough to keep the pipes in place! 


In an attempt to control the outcome as much as possible, I designed a visual guide outlining the swirl patterns I wanted to create. Because I just can’t seem to make things simple for myself, I spent quite a bit of time making the guide ridiculously detailed. I labeled the mold so I knew which direction it needed to be in when I created the swirls and then took a photo. I used that photo to diagram the swirl pattern I wanted create, which order to do each pass, and where to begin and end each pass. I hung a copy of it on my wall to use as a reference.

Swirl 1-1


As simple as it seems, I had a really difficult time trying to decide on which color combinations I wanted together and in how to divide them. I looked back to my inspiration piece for some help. I noticed some areas where turquoise was combined with black and other places where turquoise was combined with white. Same for the green color. With those combinations in mind, I decided to do black with both the turquoise and green on the outside of the pipes, and white with both colors on the inside. 

Pour #1

Black combined with turquoise and green on the outside

Pour #2

White with turquoise and green on the inside

(In case you haven’t already noticed from previous posts, I am a VERY messy soaper!)


After carefully removing all of the pipes… 

Pipe Removal

Removing pipes


…I continued on to the next step of swirling everything together. 

Swirl #1

Swirling the design

While referring to the handy-dandy swirling guide I had previously created, I used a chopstick to swirl through each section. As I went, I paid careful attention to each swirl to ensure I properly followed my guide hanging on the wall.  


One problem, however…. 

Swirl #1 Goof 2


Notice the orientation of the mold as I created the swirls? That is most certainly NOT the top of the mold!

So much for my brilliant attempt to plan…


Even though I bungled the final step of the design as planned, the results were still promising.

#1 Ready

Although the colors are not an exact replica of the inspiration piece, they are pretty darn close!

Attempt 1

First attempt

Attempt 1-2

Different angle

I understand some people in the soaping world view glycerin rivers as something to avoid at all costs and see them as an aesthetic flaw. Personally, I love the crackly appearance in certain soaps and feel they often lend to the overall artistic design. I was pretty certain I would get some rivers in this soap because of a combination of factors: using a higher water percentage, large percentage of canola oil, higher amounts of titanium dioxide, and because I CPOP’d this batch in the oven, forcing it to gel completely. I was correct. And I really, really loved the results! I scented these with Pearberry from Wholesale Supplies Plus and, holy cow! It is a truly AMAZING scent!

As much as I loved the results, I decided to take another go at it.


Second Attempt

Heading back to the drawing board, I scoured the Internet for color inspiration. I wanted something different. Something unique. Something I haven’t seen before. 

After hours of searching for the perfect palette, I stumbled across a color scheme from an page/article. The post was featuring color palettes inspired by the popular British-themed television series Downton Abbey. I have never seen this particular series, but I have heard very intriguing things about it from friends who are huge fans. Nevertheless, this particular color palette really drew me in:

Color Inspitation


The palette was described as:

“Breath of Scandal is the world of exchanged glances, an unseen brush of the hand, and secret love. This romantic and moody palette does not fade into a sentimental marriage of pastels, but instead has just enough saturation to keep it interesting. Like the sweetness of a velvet gown, and the weight of rich dark woods, the Breath of Scandal palette is beautifully balanced…Breath of Scandal uses the warmth of accents to keep the palette from being too precious. “

Intriguing, indeed! 

And if that wasn’t enough to convince me, I had a fragrance oil combination that I have been dying to try together but I haven’t yet come up with a worthy design. Until now. These colors seemed to be shouting “Pick me! Pick me!” and I realized I had finally found the perfect match.  The scent was a mixture of Sweet Patchouli (from Nature’s Garden), and Revitalizing Rosemary Mint (from Wholesale Supplies Plus).


I decided to mix up the pipe placement and sizes a little this time. I didn’t have enough of some of the PVC couplers to achieve the placement I wanted so I cut some of the same diameter PVC pipes I had lying around into segments. 

Mold Setup 2

I still had a difficult time deciding which color went where. (It amazes me how such simple little decisions are so painfully difficult for me sometimes!)

Ultimately, I chose to pair the Harvest Time (yellow/gold), and the Apple Blossom (green) for the inside of the pipes. For the outside area surrounding the pipes, I paired the Falcon Brown (brown), and Love & Happiness (peach/pink).

This is what everything looked like before the swirl:

#2 Before Swirl


Since my last attempt at trying to plan the perfect swirl was so brilliantly fouled up, I chose a different route. This time I tossed all my ambitious plans to the wind, chose to let loose and swirl with absolute abandon! Not really. I didn’t have an actual plan though. One thing I did do a little differently was to make the initial swirl with the thicker chopstick and then used a thin skewer to swirl another pattern in alternate directions.


First pass with a thick chopstick


Second pass with a thin skewer

This is what it looked like before I popped it in the oven:

Ready for rest

Ready for rest


The results were fabulous! Not only was I thrilled with the clean, defined lines, but the fragrance combination couldn’t have been more perfect for the colors. The words used to describe the Breath of Scandal color palette portrayed the colors as “…using the warmth of accents to keep the palette from being too precious.”  This scent combination is perfection with just the right amount of spiciness, smoothness, and warmth. It is truly the perfect choice for these colors. It almost seems as if the fragrance combination was specifically made for this particular color palette!

I absolutely love that each and every bar has a different design, too. Not one of them is the same in any way!


At the risk of appearing like a new mommy proudly showing off pictures of her brand new babies, here are some different shots of my little ones :

View 2 View 3 View 4


My entry:

My Entry!

Entry for the Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club


This has been a fabulous learning opportunity and I can’t wait to try the technique again. Actually, I can wait…until the contest is over, at least! I had a difficult enough time trying to choose which soap to enter with only two options. The last thing I need is another contestant!

I am also very thankful for Amy and for everything she does to keep providing us with such priceless learning opportunities. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Amy! 


Soap Specs:


All from Steph’s Micas (Micas and More)

Attempt #1

Turquoise: Combination of Peacock Blue, Turquoise, and Turquoise Green

Green: Pear Green

White: Titanium Dioxide, Satin White

Black: Activated Charcoal

Attempt #2

Harvest Time (yellow/gold): Combination of Magic Yellow, Gold Shimmer, Clementine, and Titanium Dioxide

Apple Blossom (green): Combination of Pear Green, Olive Green, and Titanium Dioxide

Falcon Brown (brown): Cocoa Brown

Love & Happiness (peach/pink): Combination of Soft Pink, Magic Yellow, and Clementine


Attempt #1

Pearberry from Wholesale Supplies Plus

Attempt #2

One part Sweet Patchouli (from Nature’s Garden)

One part Revitalizing Rosemary Mint (from Wholesale Supplies Plus)



Attempt #1

Slow to Trace Recipe #5 (Bath Alchemy Lab)

30% Olive oil
30% Canola oil
20% Coconut oil
20% Lard
27% lye solution (2.7:1 water to lye)

Attempt #2

Amy’s Slow Tracing Recipe:

35% olive oil – NOT pomace
30% lard
25% coconut oil
10% refined avocado (or other light oil such as almond, grapeseed, apricot kernel)
5% superfat
33% lye solution (2:1 water to lye)

I also added 1 teaspoon/PPO of sodium lactate and tussah silk to each batch.


Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time…


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July 19, 2019 9:22 am

Ok, I just came across this one too. As I said, very rarely on Pinterest and just glance briefly, but this soap caught me eye and low and behold, it’s you!! Haha!! Thoroughly enjoyed and I accept your apology , just kidding!! Now that I know you more, I certainly get a kick out of your creativity process, or maybe rather in the way you tell your story!! Haha. Love it Debi!!


March 25, 2018 10:11 am

I just learned sooooo much from your post and can’t thank you enough! I’m new to soaping but am ready to try some of these more complex designs. I ordered a nice slab mold earlier in the week and now can’t wait for it to arrive. Also, your post was a delight to read through so throw out that idea of editing yourself…it was simply perfect! I’ll look to you for further inspiration!

January 19, 2019 2:10 pm
Reply to  Laura

I also found it to be informative & not overly anything. I enjoyed it

July 28, 2016 1:56 am

Debi, beautiful creation as always. The idea with the nested pipes was great.

July 19, 2016 10:19 pm

Debi, your soap is absolutely gorgeous! Those colors! Just wow. And I love how you did the nested pipes. You’re so creative! Congrats on another amazing soap! 🙂

July 18, 2016 2:16 pm

Beautiful soap – I LOVE your colour palette!!

July 18, 2016 12:48 pm

I really liked this color combo. Reminds me of Spumoni ice cream.

July 18, 2016 9:53 am

Love the color choices. So pretty.

Lisa Maw Curl
July 18, 2016 8:09 am

Wow! Your soap is gorgeous I love how you used multiple pipes inside each other.

July 18, 2016 7:49 am

I love them both! The colors and swirls are amazing!
Putting the pipe inside another is on my list of things to do with this technique (along with trying it in a loaf mold with a horizontal cut too.)
I SO enjoy reading your Blog every time!!

July 17, 2016 8:30 pm


Both love your soap and post. Amazing! This was my first challenge ever and had tons of fun doing it. Like you, the challenge forced me to not just consider trying the technique but actually get it done. I considered sharing more about my thought process and hesitated and posted a little. I signed up for the next two challenges, so I’m ready to continue learning and sharing. Your post is very encouraging. I do want to know about others soapers’ experiences. Yours was a delight!

July 17, 2016 7:43 pm

All your soaps are so stunning Debi ❤️ I really love love your color combo. Your soap design looks like printed satin fabric.

Christine Bean
July 17, 2016 2:50 pm

Both batches are beautiful. I love the greens and blues.

Amy Warden
July 16, 2016 12:23 pm

Beautiful and striking!! I agree – the contrast of colors is key for this technique. And I just have to say – You haven’t seen Downton Abbey???

July 16, 2016 10:59 am

Hey Debi! These are gorgeous as usual!! Love the colors you chose! Great job!

Naomi Fraser
July 16, 2016 1:21 am

Your soap is stunning! I love the colours 🙂

Michelle Rogerson
July 15, 2016 8:52 pm

Oh wow, those are both just awesome results – I absolutely love the pastel-type effect on the last one. And your presentation of the entire thing was just amazing, seriously! For those of us still learning, or interested in the details of how a soap was done, this type of post is the kind that really makes a difference. Much appreciated!

Claudia Carpenter
July 15, 2016 1:34 pm

Beautiful, Debi — I *love* the colors! I’m so glad to see the nested pipes — that was my original plan, but I got so caught up in the basic technique that I forgot to return to it. 🙂 I even love the pre-swirl version, and wonder what it would have looked like spun instead of swirled…

Claudia Carpenter
July 15, 2016 6:37 pm
Reply to  Debi

We often seem to think alike, but our soaps couldn’t be more different this month! Yours is sophisticated and elegant, while mine looks like it’s trying to escape… 🙂

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