by Kathy Ross
for Real Families, Real Fun
Most women love decorative soap. And most moms love a Mother's Day gift that shows off a child's creative work. For these reasons, personalized soap is an ideal gift for Mom, Grandma, godmother, or teacher. Decorative soap is so simple to make you might want to give several bars placed in a pretty basket, lined with a colorful napkin or piece of fabric.
The Wells family discovered a good setup for the project. Mom said, "We found that newspapers opened on the fold and spread over the table worked best for easy cleanup. Even if you shave off the words ahead of time, the nail carving still produces bits of soap. All we had to do was roll the paper and throw it away."
The easiest kind of soap to use for this project is a pure soap (like Ivory). If the soap has writing on it, you'll need to shave the writing off the surface with a sharp knife. This part, of course, is an adult task.
Give your child a small nail to carve a picture or design lightly into the surface of the soap. If you like, draw a picture on a piece of paper; then place it on the bar and trace over it for the first outline. Remove the drawing and work the design a bit deeper and with more detail. Carefully brush away any excess soap from the top of the carving. Go over the carved lines with ordinary water-based markers to bring out the picture in a variety of colors. If the marker gets soapy on the tip, carefully wipe it off with a damp paper towel. That's all there is to it!
You can leave the soap unwrapped to harden or wrap it in clear plastic wrap so that the design still shows through; then tie it with a pretty ribbon.
When the soap is used, the color will wash right off and the carving will eventually wear away.
Note: If you have shaved the top off several bars of soap, use the shavings to make soap balls. Break up the soap and add just enough water (very little!) to moisten it. (If you want colored soap, tint the water with a drop of food coloring.) Squeeze the soap through your fingers to mix it all together. Roll the soap into 1-inch balls. Line a margarine tub with a pretty doily and tie a ribbon around the outside. When the soap balls have dried hard, put a few in the plastic container and put on the lid. These little guest soaps make another charming and useful gift!
TAKE IT FROM ME:
We did use the markers, but we really had to hold the marker at a less than 90 degree angle to get the ink to flow well. We also used a washrag to keep them alive while drawing. The soap seemed to clog the markers quickly, and the rag replenished the moisture to keep it going. --By Kathy Ross