For the April edition of the Great Cakes Soap Challenge, our host Amy put together something a little different for us to work on. Our task for this month was to create a “rustic” soap with a packaging design to match.
To help us understand the guidelines and judging criteria, Amy defined “rustic” as “having a simplicity and charm that is considered typical of the countryside”. She also mentioned that texture, earthy colours and a few rough edges could be used to create a rustic look. I was intrigued by this approach and all the possibilities available for us to explore in our soap creation and packaging.
The guidelines included:
Most of my soap making to date has involved intricate designs or swirls, so the idea of pulling back on these kinds of elements was a challenge for me right from the start. There is beauty in simplicity and clean lines, and I was excited to step out of my comfort zone to create a more simplified soap with a focus on natural ingredients to achieve an earthy colour palette, before exploring some fun ideas that I had in mind for the rustic packaging.
Over the past few months I have been experimenting with some new soap blends featuring beer ingredients from Luppolo Brewing Co. – a collaboration that began during a visit to their tasting room on Venables Street in East Vancouver. It really is a must-visit destination on any craft beer enthusiasts’ itinerary. They serve delicious craft beer and have a beautiful tasting room.
My experimentations to date had focused on incorporating “spent” hops and grains into some of my existing recipes to explore colour and exfoliation. Next on the agenda was formulating a new beer soap recipe, so things lined up well for me to create a beer soap as my Soap Challenge entry.
With a few tweaks to a favourite shea butter rich recipe, including substituting distilled water for Luppolo beer, I was ready to go. (Note: all the alcohol and effervescence was removed from the beer before I used it in my soap making. This is an important step one must take to avoid any unexpected and/or dangerous chemical reactions!). The finished soap was natural and unscented with some ginger added to enhance the colour while adding some texture. To finish, I poured a thin layer of white soap on top, which was swirled to emulate the froth on top of a freshly poured beer.
Next up was designing the rustic soap packaging, and I already had an idea in mind. I wanted the packaging to feature a custom cutout/dieline on both sides which would allow the soap to show through. For the cutouts I decided to use the shape of a beer glass so that the soap became the beer inside the glass. In keeping with the rustic theme I employed my illustration skills to hand-draw each design element starting with the beer glass, then text: “GINGER", "BEER” and “UNSCENTED”. I practiced a number of times until I was happy with the sketches before focusing on the shape of the packaging, which I would cut from a roll of recycled paper that I picked up from the dollar store.
For the shape of the packaging, I couldn’t decide between a open-box style (ie a box with the top side removed allowing the top of the soap to be seen) or a sash style (ie wrapping around the soap). To help with the decision I mocked up both options to see which one I liked best. And here they both are! Truth be told I am very happy with how they both turned out. I like that each design can be used in a variety of scenarios from craft markets to local produce stores and retail locations or even online sales.
And that's a wrap! All the best to the other participants! and many thanks to Amy for organizing another educational challenge. It was such a great experience and a wonderful way for me to start thinking about how I might package my soap creations. This is something that I will be focusing on more as the release date for my first soap collection draws closer.