February 2024 SMF Challenge: Latte Art Designs (Pretty Soap Tops) ☕️

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Welcome to the February 2024 SMF Soap Challenge: Latte Art
(aka Pretty Soap Tops)!

Pssst! Here’s a secret: a few easy techniques make it possible to create very pretty soaps, even for those us who aren’t “artistic” (such as your artistically-challenged challenge hostess!). This month’s challenge will explore those techniques by riffing on coffee shop latte art.

Bonus: your soap doesn’t have to be latte-colored or coffee-scented; use any colors and scents to create a pretty soap that you love!

SMF Challenge General Rules
  • To enter, you must have been a SMF member for at least one month and have a minimum of 50 posts at the time the Challenge is posted. Sorry, there are no exceptions to this rule, except that the time and post requirements are removed for (do not apply to) Supporting Members. All eligible members may sign up and submit an entry at any time before the entry thread closes.
  • Your soap must be made after the monthly challenge has been announced. Your entry must consist of bars made from a single batch of soap poured at one time. In other words, your entry cannot include bars from different batches.
  • The sign-up list will be posted in this thread. Please add your name to the sign-up list if you’d like to participate. You don’t have to enter a soap at the end if you don’t feel happy with what you have made. Still, we hope you will post about your experiences here in the main Challenge thread, along with non-entry photos (be prepared to be encouraged to keep trying).
  • In the spirit of advancing our soap making skills, all members who sign-up for the SMF Challenge do so with the expectation that they will make every attempt to submit an entry. We do understand that life happens, and that you may end up without an entry. However, signing up with no intent to participate and only to vote goes against the spirit of the challenge and is not allowed.
  • Throughout the month, we encourage you to use this general Challenge thread (not the Entry thread) to ask for advice, discuss techniques with other members, upload pictures of your non-entry challenge attempts, and provide helpful hints you learned along the way. Constructive criticism is welcomed, but please keep your comments polite.
  • A separate Entry thread will be created towards the end of the month. Please do not post photos of your entry until the Entry thread is opened. Breaking this rule will disqualify that soap from this Challenge. The Entry thread is for challenge entries only; please don't post any comments there.
  • We encourage (but do not require) you to include in your entry post a description and additional photos demonstrating how you made your soap: the process, the technique, the fragrance, any special meaning behind your selected colors or design, etc. This gives voters a better understanding of, and appreciation for, what went into creating your soap.
  • Entries must be posted to the Entry thread (not to this general Challenge thread) before the closing date. Late entries will not be accepted. If you miss the Challenge deadline, please upload pictures of your soap to the general Challenge thread instead. While it won’t be part of the voting, we always love to see anything you have created!
  • There is no prize attached to this Challenge. However, this is still a competition. If your entry is deemed non-compliant, you will be given the opportunity to amend your entry if there is time to do so before the Entry thread closes. Otherwise, your entry will be excluded from voting. The challenge mods have the final say as to whether any given soap or registrant is eligible for entry and voting.
  • All eligible registrants who have signed up before the Entry thread closes will be eligible to vote, even if they do not submit an entry. A password-protected voting link and password will be sent to eligible registrants only, by private message via SMF conversations. Please check your SMF messages/conversations when the voting begins.

Note: all times listed below are Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It is your responsibility to convert times to your own time zone.
* The entry thread will open on February 21 by 11:59 PM GMT.
* The entry thread will close on February 26 at 11:59 PM GMT.
* The voting survey link and password will be emailed to all registered participants shortly thereafter.
* The voting survey will remain open until February 28 at 11:59 PM GMT, or until all registrants have voted, whichever is sooner.
* The winner will be announced by February 29 by 11:59 PM GMT.


*****************************************************
Specific Rules for this Challenge:
  • Create your challenge soap after the challenge begins, using any variation of cold-processing or hot-processing.
  • Although a slab mold is probably easiest for this technique, you may also use a loaf mold or plain cavity molds (round, oval, or rectangle). If you do use a loaf mold, plan your design placement and your cuts very carefully, so that your design remains intact after the soap has been cut.
  • Please don’t use any of the following for this challenge: melt and pour soap, patterned cavity molds, cylinder molds, pull-through tools, embeds, soap dough, soap shreds, or soap stamps.
  • Your soap must include at least two colors, one of which could be uncolored soap if you wish to use that. Use as many additional colors as you wish. The main body of your soap can be plain or swirled, scented or unscented, as you please.
  • The goal is to create an eye-pleasing pattern or design on the top of your soap. Baristas create latte art designs by drizzling steamed milk onto the coffee’s surface, sometimes followed by dragging a stick or other tool through the milk to create the design.
  • You may choose to follow traditional latte art techniques as shown in the latte videos below, but don’t feel constrained to do so. This is all about making pretty soap tops!
  • Since not all latte art techniques will work with soap batter, I’ve also included two soap-making videos that demonstrate how to make soap-top art that is similar to latte art. Below are some very basic instructions, but I encourage you to watch the videos for even more ideas.
  • Start by pouring the main soap into the mold. It can be plain, swirled, layered – you decide.
  • Next, drizzle, drop, or dab some contrasting soap color(s) on the top surface of your soap. You can use an eye dropper, a spoon, a regular mixing container with a pouring spout, a squeeze bottle with a narrow tip – whatever works for you!
  • Now, using a chopstick or other tool, drag and poke the drizzled soap into your desired design. This will make more sense when you watch some of the videos which demonstrate how to create specific things like flowers, hearts, and trees – or even kitties, bears, dolphins, and whales!
  • That is one way to create latte art-style designs. However, unlike latte art, some soap designs call for alternating pours of different colors, as shown in the soaping videos. For this challenge, you are free to use any pouring method that uses fresh soap batter to create the final design on the top of the soap. Micas dispersed in oils, or similar non-soap colorants, may be used as accents. However, at least 80% of your design should be made from soap batter.
  • While there are always exceptions based on your desired effect, most designs will work best if all of the soap batter is at light trace. Any more than that and the drizzled soap may be too thick to move around. Any less than that can cause muddled colors. So, use a slow-moving recipe, a non-accelerating or even decelerating fragrance (or none at all), and a very light hand with the stick-blender. When in doubt, stop blending and simply stir by hand, giving it time.
  • Please post any questions about the challenge rules in this challenge thread, so everyone can benefit from seeing the answer.
  • Your entry photo should be the first item in your Entry thread post, and must show the top face (not the typical cut side face) of least one soap bar. If you post more than one bar for your entry, all bars must use the same design and colors in your best attempt to make them all the same.
  • Per General Rule 7, above, we also encourage you to add more photos and description – but that isn’t required.
  • Last rule: have fun with whatever you make! Be free to keep it super simple, or go wildly complex, if that’s your jam. To get your creative juices flowing, here are pics of soap art and latte art, plus some videos about how to create some of these designs. I can’t wait to see what you create!

Drawing Swirls on Soap Tops This video shows how to make simple yet very pretty soap tops in a round cavity mold. Some of these designs go throughout the soap, which is fine. Just remember that your soap will be judged by the design on the top face only.



Wreath by Grace to You The top decoration process starts around 1:45. Note that she makes a different design for each bar. Remember that if you want to use more than one bar in your entry photo, each bar should look pretty much identical to the others.



Latte Art for Soap Challenge.jpg

Latte Art: How to Draw a Tulip on Your Coffee

How to Pour Latte Art - Rosetta

Latte Art Tips: 6 Easy Designs for Beginners (With Pictures) | Coffee Affection

Latte Art by a Barista

Latte Art: The Bear
 
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To enter the Feb 2024 SMF Challenge, post your name in the list below. Then copy and paste these instructions and the entire list into a new post, adding the next number at the bottom.

Sign-up list:
1.
2.
 
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So, I've signed up for several Challenges and then ran out of time. So I decided to only sign up in the future after I'd attempted the soap. Hooray, today I had some time to try it and though I may try some more variations I am happy with at least one of my soaps. It is very close to what I was trying to achieve. After doing some research, I made a small batch of what I hoped was slow moving batter. As part of my research I read "The Best Ways to Control Trace When You Make Cold Process Soap," on modernsoapmaking.com. The recipe I developed was totally different from my regular recipe, which moves pretty fast. For anyone interested here is the recipe I used: 48% Olive Oil, 28% Lard, 19% Coconut Oil, 5% Castor Oil; 33% Lye Concentration; 3% SF. I used a non-accelerating fragrance.

Warning: This is the first time I've made this recipe. I have no idea if I'll be happy with it beyond the design. Or even if I'll have issues with it curing, etc. since the Saturated to Unsaturated #s are 35:65. But it was definitely slow moving enough to give me time to make designs.
 
Sign-up list:
1. VikingChick - I’m in! Me and coffee are BFFs…
2. katili - It's only been uh... over a decade since I made latte art!
3. Nona'sFarm - looks like fun
4. dmcgee5034 - I’ll give it a try 🥰
5.
 
So, I've signed up for several Challenges and then ran out of time. So I decided to only sign up in the future after I'd attempted the soap. Hooray, today I had some time to try it and though I may try some more variations I am happy with at least one of my soaps. It is very close to what I was trying to achieve. After doing some research, I made a small batch of what I hoped was slow moving batter. As part of my research I read "The Best Ways to Control Trace When You Make Cold Process Soap," on modernsoapmaking.com. The recipe I developed was totally different from my regular recipe, which moves pretty fast. For anyone interested here is the recipe I used: 48% Olive Oil, 28% Lard, 19% Coconut Oil, 5% Castor Oil; 33% Lye Concentration; 3% SF. I used a non-accelerating fragrance.

Warning: This is the first time I've made this recipe. I have no idea if I'll be happy with it beyond the design. Or even if I'll have issues with it curing, etc. since the Saturated to Unsaturated #s are 35:65. But it was definitely slow moving enough to give me time to make designs.
That's all fantastic information, and so kind of you to share it with everyone. 💜

No matter how the voting turns out, you no doubt nailed the award for the earliest completion of an entry soap! 😄
 
Sign-up list:
1. VikingChick - I’m in! Me and coffee are BFFs…
2. katili - It's only been uh... over a decade since I made latte art!
3. Nona'sFarm - looks like fun
4. dmcgee5034 - I’ll give it a try 🥰
5. MichaelP - I'm in! Looks like fun and another learning experience!!!
 
Sign-up list:
1. VikingChick - I’m in! Me and coffee are BFFs…
2. katili - It's only been uh... over a decade since I made latte art!
3. Nona'sFarm - looks like fun
4. dmcgee5034 - I’ll give it a try 🥰
5. MichaelP - I'm in! Looks like fun and another learning experience!!!
6. Vicki C - this is SO clever! 😍☕🧼
 
Glad to hear of good progress! Which reminds me to remind y'all: The Entry Thread opens in two days!!

It will remain open over the weekend, so there's still time for those of you who have busy work-weeks to make some soap this weekend. I had planned to make some tomorrow night, but just got tagged to drive one of our grandsons to his last game of the season. Hoping to get home in time to squeeze in a batch!

How is everyone else doing? Any tips or tricks to share?
 
I had planned to make some tomorrow night, but just got tagged to drive one of our grandsons to his last game of the season. Hoping to get home in time to squeeze in a batch!

How is everyone else doing? Any tips or tricks to share?
Have fun at your Grandsons game, @AliOop! 🥰
Tip - For my top decor, I did not add a FO which helped keep it very fluid in the squeeze bottle.
 
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I think I'll have time today to squeeze in an attempt, but I'm waiting to sign up till it's actually made. I do have a question, though. The challenge guidelines state: "Although a slab mold is probably easiest for this technique, you may also use a loaf mold or plain cavity molds (round, oval, or rectangle)." Would a hexagon cavity mold qualify? I have this mold from Bramble Berry.
 
I think I'll have time today to squeeze in an attempt, but I'm waiting to sign up till it's actually made. I do have a question, though. The challenge guidelines state: "Although a slab mold is probably easiest for this technique, you may also use a loaf mold or plain cavity molds (round, oval, or rectangle)." Would a hexagon cavity mold qualify? I have this mold from Bramble Berry.
Absolutely! Any cavity mold will work, as long as it doesn’t have a pattern that transfers to the soap. 😊
 

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