Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hwang Jini Soap Carving

Hwang Jini, a carving in soap

To those bent on learning the art of sculpture, soap carving is a good way to start. Soap is a very cooperative medium that is safe for both adults and children and one that is easily accessible anytime you get  that creative impulse to practice your craft or bring a vision to life. The tools to carve it with can be anything from a small kitchen knife to a little toothpick. To kids starting with simple designs, a plastic knife or a popsicle stick will do.

A crash course on carving soap~

Step 1
Find a good bar of soap, choose one that has an even texture and devoid of strong fumes to distract you while you work.

This soap bought from a Chinese store sparked in me memories of jade.

Step 2
Get your tools ready. A pairing knife will be good for the job of scoring and peeling away soap, a paint brush or an unused toothbrush will come in handy to brush away the shavings, some sharp tiny tools for details like toothpick and nail tools, and a cotton bud for rubbing little water for a smooth finish.

Step 3
Prepare your design references. Choose something that strongly inspires you, that will get you through the crafting process without the fire wavering or you minding the time. Remember that you can do what your mind tells you you can.

Yup, this author likes Korean TV series.

Step 4
Sketch your design on the soap with a pencil or scrape it directly with a tool in the soap. Remember that carving is a subtractive process so the scrapes must fall where you will cut away most amount of soap.

Step 5
Carve away, round off the edges in small portions. While carving one part, plan where to cut next and mind the proportions at the same time; and if possible think like Michaelangelo.

Step 6
Let the play of light and shadow work for you. Keep checking your work in various angles. 

Step 7
Brush off soap dusts and tiny chips then smooth the surface by rubbing with a wet finger or cotton bud.

Special note: save your shavings. These can be melted over low heat to make a new bar to carve.

There is no better teacher than experience, so if one wants to be good at something he must practice, practice, practice. The difficulty you will encounter along the way will teach you best. The internet is filled to the brim with tips from simple and cute to intricate designs, it is up to you to grab that soap and just do it. 

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