Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club Pour/Pull Through Techniques Challenge

Tie-Dyed Delight

The Challenge

The May 2019 Great Cakes Soap Challenge Club was all about pouring and pulling and I have to say, I found it very difficult to restrain myself! This was one of those challenges where every item you look at becomes a possible tool for the next design!

The uber-talented Joanne Watkins of Nature’s Potions Handmade Soaps was our guest teacher this month. Joanne is an incredible artist whose talents not only include soap and acrylics, but many other mediums as well.

For this challenge, we were required to pour our soap batter through some sort of object, or to pull an object up through the soap batter, both of which create some amazing designs.

The Regular category required the use of a found object. The Advanced category required us to make the object we would use from raw materials, which meant we weren’t allowed to re-purpose anything. The object had to be created entirely from something we made.

So Many Ideas!

(The following photos are from some attempts made before Amy announced this challenge. Click here to skip to the making of my entry) 

I have been following acrylic pouring techniques for some time now and I am fascinated with some of the different techniques these artists use to pour the paint. I have never gotten up enough courage to try a painting myself, but I have transferred some of the pouring techniques to soap making.

One of my favorite techniques has been to use a kitchen strainer and/or colander to pour the soap through. The placement, size and shape of the holes, as well as the way the soap is poured through the colander can crate some really awesome designs!

I tried my first Colander Pour back in December 2017. I was so delighted with the results and quickly began collecting all kinds of different strainers and colanders to create unique designs.

In case you are interested, I documented one of my first attempts using this technique:

For this design,  I set a plastic colander in a small slab mold and poured the soap through it, alternating colors.

I particularly liked how the design on the bottoms of the bars were as beautiful as the design on the tops.                      

(I have tried this technique several different times but unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of any of them!)

Recently, one of my dearest childhood friends and her family surprised me with a visit! They were interested in the whole soap making process, so I thought it would be fun to let them try a batch themselves. They chose the fragrance and in honor of her husband’s Portuguese heritage, chose the colors of the Portuguese flag as their color palette.

This is what they made:

As you can see, this technique has the ability to produce and endless variety of beautiful and very unique designs!

My Process

I decided to push my creative thinking a little more for this particular challenge. Since I had only used colanders for previous attempts, I thought I could up my game by making my own item and to try the technique of pulling something up through the soap rather than pouring the soap through. I went to work designing something to be 3D printed. I ended up creating several disks with different designs that could be pulled up through the soap. I also designed a base that basically created an open ended colander. The disks could fit in the bottom and could be interchanged depending on what I wanted. I chose to go with this design just in case I changed my mind and decided to pour the soap through instead of pulling it up through.

Unfortunately, the guy who usually prints my 3D prints was not able to get my project printed in time. I was away at the HSCG soap conference when I found out he couldn’t print everything so I had to quickly brainstorm an alternate idea when I returned. 

I had the idea of pulling a plastic design up through the soap stuck in my head so I wracked my brain for ideas to make it work. I knew it would be too difficult to carve a design into acrylic and I didn’t want to use something like clay because I wanted the edges to be sharp.

After rummaging through the endless supplies I seem to collect but never get around to using, I found my answer: Shrinky Dinks! For those of you that might be unfamiliar with them, Shrinky Dinks are a classic children’s (typically) craft that have been around for ages. Basically, they are paper-thin clear sheets of polystyrene. You draw a design, and color them with markers. After cutting the finished shapes out, you place them on a cookie sheet and then pop them in the oven. They magically shrink down in size, but become thicker and very rigid. I thought this might be a way to create an more intricate design that would still be strong enough to pull through soap.

Shrink Away!

I began by printing out my design onto paper. I placed a sheet of Shrinky Dink plastic over the design and traced it with a permanent marker. I then cut out the areas I wanted to be open in the design.

Tracing the design

Cutting out open areas

Ready for the oven!


Original size and Shrinky-Dinked size!


I melted a hole in the center of the design and hot-glued a bamboo skewer through the center to make it easier to pull it up through the soap. I also tied a string of yarn through the hole in just in case the skewer wasn’t secured enough and came off when I pulled it up. 

I placed my new gadget in a PVC pipe mold. I decided to do a funnel pour so I placed a funnel on top, over the skewer. It also helped keep the skewer centered.

(Unfortunately, I was so excited, I forgot to take photos of my actual pour. Oops! Basically, I just poured the different colors through the funnel, alternating as I went. When I was finished, I slowly pulled the skewer up through the center of the soap.)

My last-minute, improvised little gadget worked! Not perfectly, but it definitely worked! If you look closely, you can clearly see the outline of the design within the colors:

I cannot wait to give this another try! Going back to the drawing board, there are a few things I’d like to change or try:

  • Although the Shrinky Dink plastic worked in a pinch, I definitely think 3D printing is the best option. It is sturdier and can be made much more precise. 
  • The lines that make up the design need to be wider. I think the design would have been more pronounced if they weren’t so thin.
  • I would like to try a more simpler design to see if something less intricate might make a more defined design.
  • I would also like to try a more intricate design, but would probably use fewer colors.


The designs are truly endless when it comes to the infinite possibilities of this technique. I know I will be consumed for quite some time!


My Entry!


Thank you Joanne and Amy for the challenge and for inspiration!


Until next time…



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Christiane Simal
Christiane Simal
November 28, 2019 4:00 am

Contrats for eye’s luky
I like it very well

May 29, 2019 9:52 am

What a genius way to make your pull through item!! And the results are fabulous!!! 🙂

May 27, 2019 10:11 pm

Shrinky dink’s! Seriously what a genius idea, Debi! I wondered how you created that cool looking object. You always come up with such amazing and creative ideas. The colors and pattern you created are stunning!

May 26, 2019 9:40 am

Thanks for the great tutorial…a very interesting technique…
Don’t know if I will ever try it, but I really enjoyed looking at your soaps – they are all so beautiful!!

Amy Warden
May 25, 2019 8:38 pm

So fun!! I never would have thought to use Shrinky Dinks! My girls LOVED those when they were little, and this obviously worked great! I don’t know how you figured out what size to make them so they would fit once shrinked without being too small, but it worked! Gorgeous colors and patterns! Thanks for sharing your other soaps made with similar techniques as well. Very fun!

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