Thursday, 18 June 2015

Ebru Art - June Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge

Here is my entry for this month's Great Cakes Soapworks Challenge. This month's theme was 'Ebru Art'. This is a turkish style of water marbling where dyes are floated on the top of a water gel base and manipulated to create beautiful designs. The main guidelines were to make sure your design had some form of ebru inspiration and that you only used a single skewer or tool to create your design.

I had several attempts at this challenge and it was harder than I thought it would be. (I always seem to say that! My husband said 'that's why they are called challenges!').

Most of the images of ebru art that I searched for were floral themed and  I absolutely loved the roses that can be seen in the images below.

The roses below are by ebru artist Mukadder Kavas and can be purchased here
I didn't just want to recreate an ebru design though. I wanted to put some of my own personality into the art so I chose to create ebru style roses with a 'roses and castles' twist.

I grew up in the Worcestershire countryside where there are many canals and I absolutely love the 'roses and castles' style of artwork that is traditionally used to decorate the boats. As the name suggests roses and castles are often depicted in the artwork and bright vibrant primary colours are always used to create the designs.

Below the example of 'Roses and Castles' art which I used to inspire my design.

I wanted to fragrance my soap with a rose scent to match with my theme, but the only rose fragrance I have is very tricky to work with. It rices badly, so I made the scented base soap first and added the unscented ebru layer afterwards. 

The base soap recipe was made with oils I had on hand.
20% Coconut
25% Sunflower
25% Olive oil
30% Palm oil

I used up some paprika infused sunflower oil to make the base so it was and orange/peach colour. 

The top layer was high in lard for a really slow trace.
50% Lard
20% Sunflower
30% Olive oil

I had to work really quickly to mix up all the colours so that I had  plenty of time to make my design.  They were powdered mineral pigments and oxides with added liquid colourant for extra vibrancy so I mixed them in a small amount of glycerine to make sure they would mix into the batter with ease and the colour would be smooth and not clumpy. 

Colourants used
Blue - Ultramarine oxide
Green - Chromium Green Oxide mixed with green mica
Red - Red Iron Oxide mixed with red liquid colourant
Yellow - Yellow Iron Oxide mixed with yellow liquid colourant
White - Titanium Dioxide
Black - Activated Charcoal

I poured the black top layer and then used squeeze bottles to apply the coloured soap batter to the surface. I then used a skewer to create the designs and added some finishing touches with the squeeze bottles. I don't have any pictures of the process as I had to work really quickly to get the design done while the batter was still really fluid. 

I placed a lid onto the box after finishing the soap as I find that covering the soap really helps to prevent ash forming. That is why I use lined plastic boxes as moulds as the clip on lids fit tightly and there is no chance of ruining the surface of the soap. 

Here are some of the other attempts I made for this challenge, there were quite a lot of them!

This went wrong so I just messed it all around with a skewer. I still think it looks kind of cool though!

Thanks again Amy for another great challenge. I am really excited to find out what the next three months challenges will be.


  1. I love the black base on your final soap. I thought about using black as my background, since so many Ebru artists seemed to consider it a good base from which to build your colors. Great job!

  2. I love the blue flowers, though I am partial to blue. The entire thing turned out wonderful! So bold in color and well executed. Wonderful job!

  3. So fascinating!! I just love your inspiration and how your final soap came out. Your other attempts are beautiful as well. Such vibrant color choices - love the color on the black!! The waves of hearts around the border are perfect. So glad you enjoyed this one! :)

  4. Absolutely stunning!! You did an amazing job!

  5. I am beautiful....and not a glitter speck to be found. You rocked it!

  6. Really beautiful! You totally hit the nail on the head too- before I read about your inspiration, I immediately thought of beautiful old canal boats! :-)

  7. Beautiful flowers! Beautiful work!

  8. The black with the brights is stunning! Love this one!

  9. Such a gorgeous design! Love the contrast of colors on black. We finally ordered some activated charcoal and are eager to try it. Your soap makes us even more eager!

  10. Love the way the colors pop against the black background. Lovely!

  11. Thank you all for the lovely compliments. I'm so glad you like my entry. I am really pleased with the colours as it's something I have difficulty with. :)

  12. It looks like an old serving plate I have at home and look at the whole time thinking, this should be soap. You nailed it, absolutely love it.

  13. It looks like an old serving plate I have at home and look at the whole time thinking, this should be soap. You nailed it, absolutely love it.

  14. Great looking soap. Practice does make for a perfect design.

  15. so bright and beautiful! Wonderful job!