How to Easily Carve a Piece of Soap

Let’s find out how to expand our creativity through a piece of soap.

Soap turtle carved by Janis Cox

I have always had the desire to do carving.

From the time of a youngster I loved to play with mud — yup, mud. I would form and shape animals. I remember sitting at the side of our driveway where I found some soft clay and moulded it into a duck.

When we first came to Mesa, Arizona, I joined a pottery class. There we learned to form objects. It was called slab building. I enjoyed it. I even tried the wheel. My posture was not strong enough to keep that up. It takes calmness and control to use the wheel.

But watercolour called me and I changed back to that artistic endeavour.

But sculpting?

I had never tried sculpting something. But one summer I led a vacation Bible school and one activity we did was carving a boat from a piece of soap.

From that experience I thought I would try making Tadeo turtle from a piece of soap. I used Ivory Soap — it carves very easily.


Ivory Soap.

I only used a spoon to do the basic sculpting. This is great for kids.

In order to finish the details I used a paring knife. I would advise caution for small children and do this only with an adult supervising. Using a pumpkin carver or a small butter knife would let the child do it safely without supervision.

To finish the final details I used a toothpick and a brush (old toothbrush). A toothbrush cleans out the debris.

Here are the directions:

1. Go slowly (soap can break).

a bar of soap

2. Draw a quick sketch of what you want your final object to look like.

3. Do the overall shape first. Then start to carve out the details.

Making the shape of the turtle

4. Add the details to the soap sculpture — and a turtle starts to appear..

Add the details

5. Round the edges with your fingers.

My Tadeo Turtle is almost finished.

6. The finished product — your own carved soap Tadeo Turtle is ready to paint.

7. Paint and you get the final product.

I used acrylic paints to finish it. You could use tempera and cover with Podge.

Here is a photo from a soap carving done by a child.

What animal does your child like? Give her/him a picture of the animal and discuss the shape. Then give them the soap and let them go to it. You might need a few bars of soap before your child likes what is made.

Other Ways to Carve from Soap

An Elephant — the suggestion here is to use a plastic knife, and a paperclip.

There are so many ideas on the Internet on how to sculpt.

But really children just need to be given the supplies and given the freedom to experiment.

Here is another site with lots of ideas for supplies.

I would love to see the projects that your children create.

For more creative ideas check out these posts.

Remember a few basic rules.

  1. Don’t do the carving for your child. Let them do it.
  2. Give them enough time and relax while they are experimenting.
  3. Have fun. Put on some music.
  4. Take lots of pictures.

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