Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club Inlaid Designs Challenge

Spring Has Sprung!


Spring Fever!

Welcome to the March 2019 edition of the Soap Challenge Club! Here in Colorado, we are finally experiencing winter. We have had very few significant snow storms this entire season…until now. March can be our wettest month, but boy did it hit us hard!

Needless to say, I have been eagerly awaiting the beauty of spring since November and it has finally arrived. The first signs of spring always spark an energy in me and this year is no different. I decided to harvest that excitement into this months challenge.

The Challenge

The challenge this month features inlaid designs. As you know, an inlay is a design or pattern on an object, which is made by carving out a design and filling it with another color, material, etc.

Since the Soap Challenge Club is only about soap, this meant we were to carve out a design in a bar of soap and refill it with…you’ve got it – SOAP!

We had a very special guest teacher this month – Carmen Iclodean of Earth’s Raw Beauty in Las Vegas, Nevada. Carmen is one of the most talented soap makers I have ever known, and one of the nicest as well. Carmen is truly gifted in her soap making artistry and she seems to have an endless supply of creative ideas.

Carmen’s soap designs have always blown me away in both the creativity displayed and her execution of the designs. She is one of the few soap makers who has truly mastered the Inlay Design technique and we were very fortunate to be given an opportunity to watch her genius in action.


As usual, there were two categories for this challenge, Regular and Advanced.

For the Regular category, we were required to create the design by scooping/carving out the surface of a bar of soap and filling it back up with Cold Process soap, either freshly poured or with soap dough.

Here is one of Carmen’s designs created using the Regular technique:

Design by Carmen Iclodean of Earth’s Raw Beauty

The Advanced category required us to use at least one embed – a design that goes throughout the length of the soap – as well as an inlaid design. Both categories required the design on the surface of the bar to be completely flat when finished, although we were allowed to create textures on the inlaid pieces.

This design was created by Carmen using the Advanced technique:

Here is an advanced design Carmen created especially for this challenge.

On to the Design!

I knew I wanted to create something with flowers and I have a love affair going on with soap dough. Naturally this combo was a win-win!

I had the idea of making a vase of flowers, with the vase being the embed, and the flowers coming up through to the top of the soap.

I have used soap dough many times in past designs and I am continually amazed with the endless possibilities it provides. I have collected numerous little gadgets to help create flowers of all sorts and I was thrilled to finally have an opportunity to use them!


The Vase

Since I didn’t have anything I could use to make the vase, I decided to design one and have it printed with 3D printing.

I have had great success getting my 3D prints through my local library. However, several months ago, their printer broke down and it was taking a while for it to get fixed. I had a project for one of my clients that I had to get done right away, so I had to look elsewhere.

I soon discovered a world of opportunities with 3D printing that I didn’t even know existed. One of the biggest discoveries was learning about the multitude of materials that can be used to create the print itself. I won’t go into it here, but there are some astounding breakthroughs in the technology of 3D printing. From 3D printed houses, to ice cream, to human organs, the possibilities are truly endless! Here is a fascinating link to just a few, if you are interested!

If you have ever seen a 3D print, you most likely have seen it printed with either PLA (Polylactic Acid) or ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), both of which are very rigid and hard. When making a soap mold, it is ideal if it has some give to it to make it easier to unmold.

I came across flexible resin for printing and wanted to give it a try. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

With the flexible resin, I had these created:

3D printed molds

I should have made the walls much thicker because they were very flimsy and didn’t hold the shape of the vase as well as what I wanted. It was a fabulous learning lesson, however! I can envision some amazing projects with it, for sure!

Vase embeds from 3D printed mold

I used two different color batters because I wasn’t sure what I wanted the background to look like at the time. I also cut them short for the mold to allow for an area without an embed. Just in case the embeds didn’t look right, I wanted the opportunity to make a vase inlay and enter the Regular category if needed.

They turned out great, for the most part!

Soap Dough

If you are unfamiliar with soap dough, Bee Iyata is the enchanting sorceress of Sorcery Soap and the true guru behind soap dough and its magic. To learn more about it, visit her blog or buy one of her amazing books. Your ideas of making soap will never be the same!

I made my soap dough uncolored and unscented right after the challenge opened. I still didn’t have a final picture in my mind of what I wanted so I left it open for changes.

Soap Dough Batter
Soap Dough Colors!


I used a variety of cutters and silicone molds to create the flowers. One of my favorites was a cloud shaped cutter used to easily make roses.

First, cut the shape
Using the ball end of a tool, flatten out the edges of the rose “petals”
Next, fold the shape in half
Starting on one end, roll the folded shape into a coil
Lastly, open and fan the petals out into shape

I also used other tools to make different types of flowers.


I loved how the vase embeds ended up with glycerin rivers and thought it gave them a crackled appearance. I decided to create more of the texture by scratching the surface and then brushing dry mica on top.

After I created the crackles in the vase, I scooped out the area for the table. I used a wood texture mat to add a wood grain look.

I then carved out the a few areas at the top to make inlaid leaves.

I finished by adding flowers to the tops.

I am thrilled with the results!

I decided to try one with the flowers on the surface of the soap, which wasn’t allowed to be entered due to the guidelines.

Alternate Version

My Entry!

Carmen, thank you for sharing your amazing skills and creativity with us. I can see this technique being very addictive!

Thank you, Amy for yet another amazing challenge!


Until next time!

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Angela Sanchez-Martin
Angela Sanchez-Martin
June 17, 2020 7:35 am

Debi – how did you “attach” the flowers to the actual soap so they will stay and not fall off?

Elizabeth E Gehlsen
Elizabeth E Gehlsen
March 26, 2019 5:04 pm

So pretty and very unique, don’t know how you keep coming up with all these wonderful soaps – it’s amazing. Love your soaps! 🙂

Helene Glemet
Helene Glemet
March 26, 2019 4:56 pm

Thank you so much Debi for sharing your process… I really got side tracked reading about 3D printing! So interesting and versatile! Your soap is fabulous and your journey to create it is really unique. Wonderful job!! 🙂

March 26, 2019 9:00 am

Another amazing design! Wow – just – wow!

Sara Golding
March 25, 2019 10:53 am

Debi. Bless your heart. I always have to stop after reading your blog, so my brain has a chance to catch up on the 300 million components that you always seem to pull together so seamlessly in your designs. It is those details that always sets your soaps apart form the rest. The mottled look of the green background, the rivers in the vases that mimic cracks in the glaze of porcelain, the table texture…. sigh. I love it all. Well done!!!

Amy Warden
March 24, 2019 3:32 pm

You never cease to amaze, Debi! Your soap really came together as a whole, and I’m not sure if I’m more impressed with that 3D printed vase mold or your soap dough flowers! The flexible resin sounds like the perfect material for casting some interesting soap embeds! They look like they came out really smoothly. Great job!!

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