December 2015 Impression Mat Soap Challenge, Part 1 – Four Thieves in Zebra swirl

Photo submitted in the soap challenge contest:


Four Thieves soap in a rainbow of colors. Won Sponsor’s Choice Award.

This month’s soap challenge by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks is to make soap using an impression mat.

These are mats that are typically used on cakes with fondant or frosting. I knew this challenge was coming up, so I ordered a wonderful Wilton Fondant Mat. However, it was surprisingly different than what is used for making soap. This mat leaves a negative impression, or an imprint in the soap. Most soap I have seen using this technique uses a positive impression – or a raised portion of the soap on top – which really makes it pop.

Of course after signing up for the challenge and watching the training videos, there wasn’t enough time to order something else and still be assured that I could make my soaps before the deadline.

Fortunately, I was able to find one mat from Hobby Lobby that looked like it had plenty of detail to work nicely. It was big enough for my 5 lb soap mold and when I trimmed a half inch off the edges of empty space, it fit perfectly into my BB mold without the liner.

Four Thieves Soap:

My plan was to make my Four Thieves soap with a Dandelion Zebra swirl just like I have done in the past, with the addition of the mat.

I mixed up my essential oil blend of Four Thieves:
5 oz – 142 grams:
34% Clove leaf:     1.7 oz        48 grams
30% Litsea:            1.5 oz        43 grams
16% Cinnamon:      .8 oz        23 grams
12% Eucalyptus:     .6 oz        17 grams
8% Rosemary:         .4 oz        11 grams

Of course this blend accelerates trace & discolors a bit, but I’ve been able to work around that by omitting the eo in the colors used for the zebra swirl, and mixing up just what I need of natural soap with the Four Thieves oil and some TD.

I planned for 3 pours of soap with the fragrance in it, progressively adding more eo to each layer, which would cause each to become a bit darker than the previous layer.

3 pours with eo (total of 134 grams scent):
28 grams
42 grams
64 grams

But first I needed to put some colors on my impression mat. I used:
Yellow: CC Yellow Oil Locking Mica
Red/Orange: BB Coral Mica
Bright Pink: BB Radiant Plum
Purple: TKB Magic Violet
Blue: BB Ultramarine Blue
Green: Leftover combo of greens

I mixed my oils & lye water together, then poured off 12 oz for the impression mat colors. (In hindsight I would have needed less than 6 oz.)

I stick blended my 12 oz to a medium trace, then divided them into 6 paper cups and added the colors.

I spread the soap on the mat in a diagonal so that each bar would have a variety of colors. I wish I would have applied them at a 45 degree angle for more color variety and only stick blended the soap to light trace, as it got really thick.

I worked the colored soap into the mat a bit, then scraped off the excess  and carefully put the mat into the mold.


Close up of part of the mat in the mold

That took much longer than expected, and now all my soap batter was thicker than I had wanted.

I put down the first layer of uncolored soap with a small amount of eo in it, then started my dandelion zebra swirl. (I did take a photo, but it was quite blurry, so it’s not included.) Things were setting up very fast – even the soap without the fragrance – so I had to step up my pace and didn’t stop for any more attempts at photographing the process.

After the first layers of zebra swirl, I mixed up the 2nd third of my plain soap batter and poured that; then did another layer of zebra and the last third of batter with eo.

I used the rest of my colors on top (which, if the impression is successful, will be the bottom.)


Close up of part of soap loaf.


Photo submitted into soap challenge contest.

The first cut from each end…looks like clouds & rainbows.


I love the look of clouds & rainbows inside.


A whopping 197 soapers entered the challenge, which I found surprising, as December is such a busy month. It just goes to show you how important soaping is to enthusiasts!

I was very fortunate & really thrilled to receive the “Sponsor’s Choice Award,” from  Bramble Berry, the patron of this challenge. I placed 7th overall.

The note Kelsey from Bramble Berry sent me said: “We all love your Four Thieves Soap. The diagonal rainbow colors on the lace are amazing. You did such an excellent job.”

Very high praises from a group of super talented people –  their feedback really means a lot to me and I am extremely grateful.


See my next blog (Dec 16, 2015) on working with negative impression mats.

25 comments on “December 2015 Impression Mat Soap Challenge, Part 1 – Four Thieves in Zebra swirl

  1. Debi says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, Sylvia! The colors on top are amazing and then the inside…just GORGEOUS!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. April says:

    Spectacular Sly! I love love love your clouds and rainbows. Beautiful colors. The whole loaf is so cohesive.


  3. Holly says:

    So beautiful! Your colors are so vibrant and striking.


  4. Amy Warden says:

    I love this!! The rainbows look amazing! I really think the thicker batter worked in your favor to make the uncolored soap look like the clouds! It’s crazy how little soap is needed to fill the impression mat, isn’t it? Better to overestimate than underestimate though! 🙂


  5. Omneya Dhmaid says:

    OMG I am in love. Completely in love. Perfection ❤


  6. sirron says:

    I love this to absolute bits! I thought of doing a diagonal rainbow on the impression mat, and wondered what it would look like. Yours is fantabulous!


  7. Eva says:

    Fantastic colors combo! I really want to try that cloud effect now! the mat you chose looks super and very versatile. What a cute guest soap too!


    • soapsbysly says:

      I am so grateful for your very kind words.
      It worked out so well that the bottom became the top.
      You just have to get your batter way too thick and spoon it in like clouds!


  8. Sara Golding says:

    The colors are amazing, working on the diagonal made a beautiful result!


  9. Absolutely fantastic! And I love the inside too, the rainbow behind the clouds


  10. Danielle says:

    Wow! Everyone already said it, your soap turned out so beautiful! The thickening helped the clouds and the colors are amazing! I bet it smells fantastic too!


    • soapsbysly says:

      Thank you so much – your supportive comments mean a lot to me!!
      The Four Thieves soap does smell great and is always a good staple to have around all year long – for colds & flu in the fall & winter and allergies in spring & summer.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Soap Lily says:

    Really amazing soap! The colors are breath taking and you put so much work into the layers. The whole thing is a work of art. We love how the cut slices look like clouds in front of a rainbow. Great job!


    • soapsbysly says:

      Soap Lily:
      Thank you – I am so grateful for you wonderful compliments!
      I really enjoyed your Blog and the Sea Glass & Shells videos – you put a lot of work into making your mats and soap.


  12. Absolutely Fab Sylvia! Gorgeous. Love the bright colours and love your impression mat too x


  13. […] have made this soap ten times before, and always with the Zebra Swirl (see August 22, 2016 Blog and December 14, 2015 Blog, where I won Sponsor’s Choice […]


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