You can embed nearly anything in a bar of soap. Plastic bugs and goldfish, silk flowers, semiprecious stones, and rubber ducks can all be completely or partially encased in soap for an effect that ranges from the silly to the sublime. Just be sure the embedded object is something you'd actually enjoy finding in your soap!

A Few Words from the Embed Expert

Kerith Henderson of Pisces Soap in Hollywood, California, is one of the most inventive soapmakers using this technique. Her designs, from the sweet and whimsical to the strictly bizarre, are fresh and inventive. Here are her top five tips for beginners:

  • Get creative. Don't think that you have to create the same soap bars that everyone else is doing. Don't be afraid to express yourself.

  • Don't let failure discourage you if a recipe you try turns out wrong. Learning from your mistakes is the best soapmaking lesson you can get.

  • Start off small. In the beginning, you don't have to run out and purchase every fancy oil, fragrance, herb, and additive out there. Start with the basics while you are still getting the techniques down.

  • Do your research. Spend as much time as possible reading every book and newsletter you can get your hands on. If you have access to the Internet, join a couple of soapmaking newsgroups where you can learn and share with others.

  • Enjoy yourself. Soapmaking can be a tremendous amount of fun and a huge stress release. So get to it and have a ball!

Have a child who hates to take baths? He will soon be begging to stay in the tub once he gets a hold of these soap bars! Soaps embedded with plastic toys add whimsy and fun to everyday bathing.

Kerith Henderson's Embedded Toy Soaps

Make sure the toys you use are made of a softer plastic or vinyl. Hard toys can scrape delicate skin! Squeak toys, rubber balls, erasers, and soft plastic insects are great choices. Don't forget: The toys must fit in the molds you choose!

Casting soap cut into small pieces

Small toy

Rubbing alcohol

  • Pour melted soap into your mold, about ∕ of the way down. Allow this to cool slightly, forming a thin skin.

  • Spritz the selected toy bottom with rubbing alcohol. Place the toy into the soap, breaking the thin skin. Allow this layer to set. (This bottom layer is what keeps the toy from floating to the top!)

  • Generously spritz the toy and bottom layer with rubbing alcohol. Pour the rest of the melted soap in to fill the mold. Let the soap set completely before popping it out of the mold.

Embedded Flower Soap

Flat silk flowers, such as daisies

Casting soap cut into small pieces

Rubbing alcohol

The hardest part of this project is keeping the air bubbles on the flowers to a minimum. The alcohol will help with this, but if there are air bubbles remaining, don't worry. They will look like dewdrops on the petals. You need a mold deep enough and big enough to hold the head of the silk flower. These projects look best with soap that is either uncolored or very slightly tinted. The color of the flower will reflect and be magnified in the soap, so you don't need any additional color.

  • Pull off the head of the flower and cut off any sharp plastic parts on the back. Rinse the flower in very warm water to release any dyes that are not colorfast. Let the flower head dry.

  • Place the prepared flower into the mold, pretty side down.

  • Melt the soap. When the soap reaches 140°F, carefully pour it around the flower — do not pour directly onto the flower. As you pour, gently agitate the mold to release air bubbles. Use a chopstick or bamboo skewer to poke and prod air pockets from between the petals. As the bubbles rise, spritz with alcohol to get rid of them. Allow the soap to cool and unmold.

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