I am so excited about this project. I gave myself a blister punching out bazillions of tiny bits of soap confetti to photograph for this tutorial and you know what? It.was.totally.worth.it.
You see sometimes I have an idea and by the time I’ve gathered the materials and tried it out (and often had a few failures along the way) I lose momentum and either never end up following the project through or get as far as photographing it then lack the motivation to write it up.
This was the opposite. From the minute the idea popped into my head to the very last sentence in this post, it has been a pleasure to put together.
I did hit a slight stumbling block at the start trying to source the glycerine soap I needed but then the universe conspired to bring the soap before me in the most unexpected of places: a tiny country town in a quirky little antique shop (you know, whiskey decanters, silver platters and glycerine soap – as you do) and it took right off from there.
I LOVED photographing these luminous little bits of soap. Even the shavings and discarded off-cuts were just beautiful. It’s almost as though the soap is lit from within when you hold it to the light and turning large bars into little pearls of soap magnifies this incandescent effect.
The soap is (of course) solid but looks ephemeral – especially once it is sliced or shaved into thin, translucent pieces.
So I think that’s enough gushing about soapy bits, let’s get on with the tutorial.
What you need:
- Brightly coloured glycerine soaps
- Vegetable peeler
- A standard hand-held circle paper punch
- Other punches
TIP: Paper punches that have a decent gap to slide paper (or soap or whatevs) between are preferable. Some have, literally, a paper-thin gap which makes it tricky to insert thicker things. Later on in the tutorial I provide some tips on how to cope with thinner gaps but it’s just easier if your punch allows you some leeway with thickness of your materials.
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Baking paper (aka wax paper, baking parchment)
There are two types of confetti: traditional flat and little jelly-tot-shaped ones, which I am going to call pearls instead of soapy jelly-tots.
Let’s start with pearls.
What to do for pearl confetti:
1. Using a knife, cut off a slice of soap about 2-3mm thick along the longest edge. If the soap crumbles or the slice has distressed opacities (yes, folks, you’ll find all the big words here) within it, try slicing along the short edge instead. In other words, each soap has a kind of grain and you need to ascertain which edge allows you to slice along the grain rather than across it. Each soap is, annoyingly, different. Some give good slice on the short edge, some on the long. Unpredictable, slippery little fellows.
This photo illustrates my point.
See how the longer purple slices are lovely and translucent. But the short yellow ones. Dear Gaga, help the short ones. They have grainy opacities running wild through them. So for good soap confetti remember this rule: opacity = crap punchability. It’s a life lesson.
This is a perfect slice of soap:
If you punch through a perfect slice you will get something like this:
Attempting to punch through flaky slices (apart from being just sheer recklessness) results in what you see in the top of the next shot.
2. The next decision is one which, in order to make, you must look deep inside yourself. Just as a young Karate Kid had to contend with “wax on, wax off”, so must you my faithful disciples. Wax paper that is. And yes I do consider myself the Mr Miyagi of soap confetti. (That’s a gratuitous Karate Kid reference for those of you young whippersnappers who are wondering what the dickens I’m on about).
If you choose wax on like this:
it makes it a much cleaner and, frankly, easier process. On the downside, though, you have to remove tiny bits of wax paper off each side. It gets repetitive.
If you choose wax off:
it’s a quicker but messier process. As the soap is handled and heats up a little, it can start to kind of gum up the punch. You must look deep inside yourself and choose which method is best for you, Reader-San. Choose wisely.
I tried ’em all. And used different methods for different bars. I started out with baking paper but I swiftly got sick of peeling off the tiny bits of baking paper from each pearl (although you can kind of get a rhythm going if you slide your fingers in opposite directions across the pearl).
So then I tried without and initially that seemed really good but the pearls tend to stick in the catchment area of the punch. Using a toothpick to coax them out helps. If your punch is getting all gummed up with excess soap, wipe it clean with paper towel and punch through some normal paper to get the excess off the sharp edges. If you have really soft soap slices or shavings, try putting it in the freezer for 30 minutes and then wrapping paper around it.
Since it’s Valentines Day as I type this, I think it is appropriate to give you another reason why I love my handsome husband so much: he did not bat an eyelid when he went to the freezer to retrieve frozen fish and had to move 20 slices of lightly frozen soap out of the way before he could reach any food.
Similarly, I renewed my decision to keep him when, after ranting and raving around the kitchen one night when I couldn’t find the vegetable peeler and pretty much accusing him of having put it in the wrong drawer or losing it altogether, Sophia (6.5 yrs) piped up with “Mum, it’s in your study with the soap”. Erm, yeah.
I had to grovel a leedle bit. And he deserved my grovelling. Bitchy craft woman.
What to do for traditional flat soap confetti:
1. Use a vegetable peeler to make shavings.
2. Unlike with pearl confetti, you should ALWAYS wrap your shavings in baking paper before punching. Just trust me on this one.
3. If the shavings are still too thick (some punches truly have just a paper-thin opening) use a rolling pin to flatten your shaving. Again, I find it easier and less messy to do this after you’ve wrapped it in backing paper.
So now let us chuck some soap confetti in the water and see what happens.
As it sits in the water the colours of the soap pearls begin to fade and they slowly become opaque.
I think this would make the sweetest Valentine’s gift, or indeed gift at any time. I set aside some of the heart confetti for my girls and packaged it up in yet more baking paper and sewn together.
I’ll give it to them as they hop in the bath tonight.
Yes, I am totally loving this project and I really hope you do too.
Happy Valentine’s my beloved readers. I do, truly, madly, deeply love you.
And lest you think it’s all zen-like Karate Kid crafting and neat little punchies over here, check out my kitchen bench after my ‘sperimentations.
The soap I found in my out-of-the-way antique shop and used for this tutorial is from Body Treats and can be purchased online in Australia here.
I’ll be back shortly to show you another way to make soap confetti… from soap leaves and to tell you how to use up the soapy off-cuts from today’s project! Yep, the punching never stops around here.
This is a post in twirling betty’s Paper punch-a-palooza series.
If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy these posts in the series: