2013 Winners Circle

The 16th HSCG conference is over; we’ve packed our crates, boxes, and bags and traveled back home, but the sights and smells of the Soapers’ Showcase linger on. Every year, we hold a contest known as Soapers’ Showcase. Conference attendees are invited to enter up to 3 soaps in various categories. Attendees vote on their favorites, with winners and a special ‘Best in Show’ awarded at the final evening’s award dinner.

soaper showcase2

This year, we had 175 entries from soapmakers in 12 countries. Attendees sniffed, sniffed, and sniffed some more (and then realized they had finally exited the ‘best scent’ category and tried not to sniff any more soaps). It was a fierce battle to see which soaps would reign victorious.

Win or lose, at the end of the day, showcase entrants donated their creations to local charity Women’s Center of Wake County. Along with the Soapers’ Showcase entries, conference attendees brought soaps to donate. At conference end, we donated over 400 pounds of soap to the Women’s Center! Next year, we’re aiming to donate 500 pounds of soap and toiletries. With your enthusiastic early registrations for the 2014 conference at the lovely Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson, we’re sure to blow that goal out of the water!


Without futher ado, here are this year’s winners:

Best Appearance, Melt and Pour: Pam Leis of by the SEA soap

2013 Best Appearance MP

Best Appearance, Cold Process/Hot Process: Joan Broughton of Joan’s Garden

2013 Best Appearance CP

Best Scent, Melt and Pour: Michelle Harps of Summer Kitchen Soaps

2013 Best Scent MP

Best Scent, Cold Process/Hot Process: Cindy Heinemann of Misty Mountain Soap Co.

2013 Best Scent CP

Best Packaging: Yuli Guo of Yulimade

2013 Best Packaging

Something Different: Misty Fields of Masterpiece Bath & Candle

2013 Something Different

And finally, the category you were all waiting for, our Best in Show. Drumroll, please…..

Our 2013 Best of Show: Joan Broughton of Joan’s Garden

2013 Best Appearance CP

Thank you to all of our fabulous entries and judges. We hear a few of you are already preparing for next year’s competition in Tucson (hint: it’s never too early).

Did you pick any of the winners? (Or are you busy plotting your winning entry for 2014?)

Spotlight: Shepherd’s Soap Sushi

“‘I get so tired of looking at soap all day long,’ said no soapmaker ever” as the meme goes. Here at the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild, we tend to agree. We recently spotted these sushi soaps out on the HSMG Facebook page and had to know how they came about.

“These were for a young teen’s birthday party,” explains Deb Petersen of Shelton, Washington-based Shepherd’s Soap Company. Deb, who specializes in cold process soapmaking, had a special request for something a little off-the-beaten path for birthday party favors – soap that looked like sushi. She quickly turned to a melt and pour soap base and a little ingenuity to execute the concept.

Using local sushi menus as a guide and utilizing PVC pipe and truffle molds, the sushi soaps quickly came to fruition. The biggest challenge, says Deb, was finding the sushi grass used in packaging the soaps. Google finally came to the rescue – in fact, if you’re interested in executing your very own sushi project, Deb has grass to spare.

“We had a blast. I am, and always have been, a cold process soapmaker, but I definitely see how melt and pour soapers have WAY too much fun.” We couldn’t agree more, Deb. Thanks for sharing your soap creations with us!

What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever created with soap?

Celebrate Global Handwashing Day!

Sure, you make soap, but do you ever stop and think about what a fundamentally life-saving device you’re producing?  Next Monday, October 15, marks the 5th annual Global Handwashing Day.  In celebration, we thought we’d share a few facts illustrating the power of a simple bar of soap.

BAC graphic courtesy of NSF Scrub Club

A staggering 6.9 million children under the age of 5 die each year.  The good news is that this represents a 41% decrease over the last two decades, but clearly, there is room for much more improvement.  Aside from complications during birth, pneumonia and diarrhea are the two biggest killers of this age group.1 Here’s where soap comes into play: proper handwashing with soap and water has the power to prevent these two infectious diseases.2 For these children, using soap and water can mean the difference between life and death.  However, proper hygiene is not just a problem in developing nations.

Even in developed countries, lack of handwashing is an issue.  The World Health Organization estimated, in a 2004 report, that children lose 272 million school days worldwide to diarrhea.3 Handwashing with soap can cut diarrhea rates by up to 50%.4 Imagine how many days of school could be regained by washing hands with soap!

Children aren’t the only ones with handwashing issues; failure to wash hands in hospitals is the leading cause of infections in hospitals.  Nearly two dozen studies over the past 35 years have shown hand hygiene campaigns, including handwashing, in hospitals reduces infections contracted by patients.5

graphic courtesy of Choose Soap

With all the focus on bacteria reduction, it would seem antibacterial soap is necessary for a proper handwashing.  Happily, that’s not the case.  A simple handwashing with water and soap, as the Centers for Disease Control have shown6, is just as effective and likely much more environmentally friendly than using antibacterial soaps (triclosan, a key antibacterial agent, is also ecologically persistent).  So take up that beautiful bar of handcrafted soap, share one with a friend, and get to washing!  You can truly feel good about using soap.

Wow, did you know your soap could do all that?  We’re certainly feeling thankful for our soap.  Excuse us while we wash our hands now….


  1. Levels & Trends in Child Mortality – Report 2012, UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, 2012
  2. Luby, Agboatwalla, Feikin, Painter, Billhimer, Altaf, Hoekstra, Effect of handwashing on child health: a randomised controlled trial, The Lancet, 2005
  3. Hutton, Guy, and Laurance Haller, Evaluation of the Costs and Benefits of Water and Sanitation Improvements at the Global Level, Water, Sanitation and Health Protection of the Human Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2004
  4. Fewtrell et al. Infectious Diseases, The Lancet, 2005
  5. WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care: a Summary, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2009
  6. Aiello AE, Marshall B, Levy SB, Della-Latta P, Lin SX, Larson E, Antibacterial cleaning products and drug resistance, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 2005