Carved Soap

This is a different (and fun!) craft for adults and older children.  A little carving and little painting, and you will transform a plain bar of soap into a holiday bathroom centerpiece.  Because this project requires the use of knives, this craft is definitely for older children.  However, the knives don't have to  be very sharp and this can be a good way to safely introduce children to whittling (before moving on to harder materials such as wood). 

You will need:

For a reindeer or raised wreath
1.  A bar of soap
2.  A knife
3.  Stiff paper
4.  Pins
5. Foodcoloring or watercolors (Optional)
6.  A paint brush (Optional)

For set-in wreath
1.  2 bars of soap
2.  A knife
3.  Stiff paper
4.  Water
5.  A microwavable dish
6.  Food coloring

A brown reindeer and wreath, carved out of soap

 

A green wreath, set into a bar of soap

 

  Reindeer
A reindeer pattern, pinned to a bar of white soap 1.  Print out the pattern.  Cut it out and pin it to the bar of soap.
A knife cutting away at the soap to form a reindeer shape 2.  Carve out the shape.  Soap is soft, and you can cut fairly large pieces off at once.  Don't hurry, though.  Be careful when you cut out the feet and antlers.  Remove the pins and pattern.
A white reindeer, carved from soap 3.  Add detailing on top.
A soap reindeer, with his nose painted red and a green collar 4.  If desired, use food coloring or a water base paint to add a red nose, and holly wreath collar, and brown fur.
  Wreath 1
Scissors making a circle pattern on a bar of soap 1.  Open a pair of scissors slightly.  Put one edge in the center of the soap, and rotate the other edge around to form a small circle.  Open the scissors a little wider and repeat.  This will outline the wreath.
A wreath is carved from soap, so it stand out 2.  Cut away the soap around the wreath and in the center.
A soap wreath with a bow and texture being carved onto it 3.  Carve the bow and the leaves on the wreath.
Green and red colors, being painted onto a soap wreath 4.  Add color with food coloring or water base paint.
  Wreath 2
A wreath shape cut into a bar of soap

1.  Print the pattern and put it on the soap.  Cut around the edges and the center, pressing the knife in about 1/4 of and inch.

Remove the pattern.  Cut a cross hatch pattern into the wreath, still pressing the knife in about 1/4 of and inch. 

A donut shape cut into a bar of soap to make a wreath 2.  The crosshatching will make it easy to cut out the soap pieces inside the pattern.  Smooth edges so you have an even wreath shape.
Soap shavings in a bowl 3.  Use your shavings.  Take the second bar of soap and grate it on a cheese grater until you have about 1/2 cup of soap shavings. 
Gooey, melted, red soap 4.  Add 3 Tablespoons of water and stir.  Cover the dish and microwave for about 20 seconds.  The soap should be a lumpy, gooey mess.  Divide it into two and stir green coloring in the first dish and red coloring into the second dish.
A wreath made from green, red, and white soap 5.  The soap will harden quickly, so work fast!  Press green soap into the hollowed out wreath.  Then put on a blob of red soap for a bow.  The wreath will stay on the soap, even as people use it to wash their hands.

Soap is inexpensive, easy to find, and available in a vast swirl of colors and scents.  We use soap to clean ourselves, our clothes, our dishes, and our homes.  Soap has been used for more than five thousand years, though it hasn't always been easy to obtain.  It was orignally made from ash and animal fats, and was more valuable for cleaning dishes, homes, and clothes than people, since it could be quite strong.  The soap making process was industrialized in the Victorian age, and soap became easier to obtain and was tailored for various uses.

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