March is National Craft Month! National Craft month was created by the Craft and Hobby Association in 1994. How do you plan to celebrate? I plan to celebrate by bringing you one of my favorite childhood crafts each week. Each of the crafts in this small series is a craft you can do with children. Some will make more mess than others, but that’s half the fun of crafts sometimes!
Soap Making for Kids
I’ll start out with a really easy one. I’ve mentioned before that I had a soap making kit when I was little, and that it used a very different method than most of the soap kits you see in craft stores today. I’ve never seen anything like this kit before or since, but it’s very easy to recreate using items you can buy in most stores.
What do I need?
It’s going to sound like a weird list, but stay with me…I promise this works!
You’ll need bar soap, a cheese grater, cling wrap, a paper plate, a plastic spoon or something else with a smooth edge, something to use a mold, and the patience to deal with a little mess.
The color soap you buy will be color of the finished product, as this method doesn’t allow you to easily use dyes. I bought purple and blue.
For molds, there are a few different options you could try. Play-Doh molds, soap molds from a craft store, or cookie cutters should all work nicely.
If you’re worried about children grating their little fingers off, use a rotating grater like the ones used in Italian restaurants.
How do I start?
First and foremost, take off your jewelry and put down a towel or two. Then, use the cheese grater to grate the bar of soap over the paper plate. When you have grated enough (this depends on the mold, but generally, I say use the whole bar) add a little water. It will take much less water than you think, and each brand of soap will need a different amount. I remember that Ivory Soap turns to dust when it’s grated, and takes a bit more water than a moisturizing soap like Caress. You have to mix the water in with your hands, and it may take a while. Using a spoon will get you nowhere. It’s best to add only a little water (a teaspoon or less) at a time until it is the right consistency. It should feel a little stiffer than Play-Doh.
Line your mold with cling wrap. If you are using a two-sided mold, line both sides. This will allow you to release the soap from the mold. Also for two-sided molds, do not use too much soap. If you do, you will never get the mold to close.
Pack the soap into the mold, making sure that there are no large wrinkles in the cling wrap, or any air pockets. Carefully remove the soap from the mold and let it cure for a day or two. Now you can pretty little soaps! Use a plastic spoon to tidy any edges or smooth out rough spots. If you’re having trouble removing the soap and cling wrap from the mold (I had some trouble with the cookie cutter method) try a little water or cooking spray in between the mold and the plastic.
This method is definitely safer for kids than the traditional method found in most craft kits. The other method involves melting glycerin soap base—I haven’t tested it out on my own arm, but I bet it would cause a nasty little burn.
What’s next for National Craft Month?
Some of my favorite crafts were anything with beads, yarn, weaving, and painting things. What were your favorite crafts as a child?