Soap challenges are fun, yes, no doubt about that. It gives soap makers a chance to broaden their horizons, spread their creativity into distant corners of the crafting world and find a new way of doing something they already do everyday, just with a twist. An aesthetic, if you will.
I’ve never actually joined one, though I’ve joined a page or group or two in Facebook in the past. Still I’ve yet to step into the creative circle and say, “I’m in. Let’s do this”!
So why, you ask, did you join, if you didn’t participate? Well, sometimes we join things to appreciate the attempt vicariously through others. I respect the skill, the talent, the willingness to step outside one’s comfort zone to try something altogether new or just a twist on an old ideal. It’s always a moment of wonder to see what others can come up with when offered the opportunity to spread their wings.
I’m not averse to trying new things, in fact I love to learn something new, but I like how I work now. I have a rhythm, a style, a look, a method and an approach to how I create the products in my web site and am very happy with it now. When I decide to try something new it isn’t because it was required in order to qualify forsomething, but because I wanted to find out what would happen if I do that instead of this.
I’ve seen so many soapers create those dips and swirls on the tops of their bars with a spoon’s convex back that gave it the appearance of choppy waves on a deep blue-green sea, some even complete with whitecaps. Others have the Taiwan swirl down to an artform. Yet another sculpts tiny figures, fruits, constructions, from a dough-like consistency soap to place onto her soaps, making a soap without any need for melt & pour embeds. This is a magical world, with talent equal to the skill of a truly gifted wizard, artist or designer and you never know what’s coming next with any one of these incredibly gifted people.
Pinterest has pushed our belief in our own inner artist to venture further than many generations before ever thought to cross into, providing a place for inspiration to flow like Niagara Falls. Of course many a good intention has fallen down that DIY craft board’s rabbit hole to be neither seen more heard from again for hours at a time. Enjoy it, but go in with the plan to stay only a short time. Maybe employ the use of a timer. Might help anyway.
I digress a bit here. What I mean to get at in my own weird rambling way is that after all of the Facebook posts, the group challenges, the Pinterest eye-candy temptations, I’ve slowly yet carefully stepped into my own pair of comfortable creativity shoes. The joy of a challenge comes from within my own self. A new mica colour, a new fragrance, requires research (yes, maybe through Pinterest) that would represent that new colour/scent as I perceive it. What design do I want to create with this glorious thing? How will I achieve it? What colours would look best – high contrast or sun-bleached tints, vivid primaries or gentle pastels? What technique in swirl – hanger, spoon, chopstick, dividers, drop swirl, or a variation on one or more?
I go where my heart leads now. I travel a road of my choosing and find the journey far more gratifying that the one that I followed along with hundreds of others. I don’t like imitating others just as I wouldn’t want others imitating me regardless of how the old saying goes. The pressure to produce something of equal or greater beauty in a similar design done by dozens of others has been lifted and with that freedom, I can slide through the production of my designs with ease, comfort and far more joy than I did in previous years.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t join those group challenges. Far from it. If it gives you joy to try that, needing just that gentle nudge to try it, go for it! You’ll never know what you can do until you try. Possibly something amazing or even far different from what you’d expected will result. Soapmaking is just that way. But if you go into them only occasionally, only wanting to do so just for fun, that’s the way it should be. Many of them offer very nice prizes, too, by the way, so there’s nothing lost. Either you win, or you don’t, but you gained the experience, you could possibly gain a very nice prize, but best of all you gain confidence. In your craft. In yourself.
But for me, I’m happily following the beat of my own drummer. Content to know that I’ve created something I like, it makes me happy, it makes others happy. It brings smiles to friends, family, customers and that’s all I need. Well that and income. Still, I’ll carry on, making soap my way, be happy with my job, my life, play around with the pictures of them, and hopefully others are okay with that, too. Find your inner drummer, then keep calm and carry on, everyone!