About once a year, I feel the urge to do something crafty. Perhaps it’s my memory of making a Mother’s Day gift at school and trying to get it home before it fell apart. But, right on time, the mood struck me last week when I saw some lovely spring-colored translucent soaps that looked to me like perfect Mother’s Day fare. But they needed a little something, a little personality.
They looked a bit too plain as they were. I wanted to put something inside the soaps, a little surprise that you could see but not reach until you used the soaps and they melted away to free their inner treasure. I also wanted to involve my children and make something that they could give to their teachers and school staff as an end-of-the-year gift. So we set out for the craft store to see just how we could make something that was easy, cheap and versatile.
First stop was the scrapbooking embellishments section. We found all sorts of tiny paper, fabric, plastic and rubber doodads that we felt would look good sealed in soap. My kindergartener went straight for the pirate-themed items as she wanted to make a special soap for her love interest, a second-grader who, I’m told, likes pirates. My 7-year-old looked for baby-themed items so that she could make something especially for her teacher, who is expecting. We struck out on the baby items so we went for tiny flowers instead. Any little item will do as long as it’s not sharp or metallic as those can scratch or cut someone who is rubbing their hands on the soap.
Next, we located the soap crafts aisle and purchased everything else we needed:
- clear glycerin soap (sold in blocks)
- food coloring
- eucalyptus scent (or scent of your choice)
- bite-size brownie silicon tray (this was in the baking section)
(Adult) Cut off thin slices of the glycerin soap and have the child place them in a microwavable container (I used a Pyrex measuring cup).
(Adult) Microwave 20-40 seconds or until completely melted. Liquefied soap is very hot, so be sure to keep children’s fingers from touching it.
(Child) Add one or two drops of scent and color* (a little goes a long way) and stir.
(Adult) Pour soap into the molds, filling almost to the top.
*Alternate approach is to add color to the soap once in the mold and stir gently with a toothpick to achieve a swirl effect
(Child) Choose what will go into each mold.
(Adult) Carefully drop the embellishment, face down, onto the top of the liquefied soap.
(Child) Using a toothpick and NOT touching the hot soap, push the embellishment down toward the bottom of the mold. It’s best if the embellishment is not directly resting on the bottom of the mold but has soap above it and below it.
Wait about 40 minutes or so until the soaps are cool and hard enough to pop out of the molds. If you don’t like the result, just put them back in the Pyrex cup and microwave them again (assuming you stuck to the no-metals rule above).
These little soaps represent a beautiful blend of something useful, cheap, handmade and personal. We found so many little treasures and have since made about 15 batches of these little soaps, each one unique, useful and special — because we made them…together.
(And the second-grader likes his pirate soap very much.)