Mondrian meets Miro

Amy Warden's July Soap Challenge features a technique developed by Teri Endsley of Tree Marie Soapworks, the Pointy Layers. This method, which Teri discovered by happy mistake, is pretty much as it sounds: to intentionally  incorporate at least one distinctive "point" somewhere in the layered soap. 

The pointy layers technique was such a blast that I tried about four variations - honestly, with more time, I would have created more. What my experiments had in common (fellow challenge soap artist may relate):

1) Every batch looked uniquely intriguing (difficult to choose what to enter)

2) No batch was reproducible

I suspect that working at the required, extra-light trace (just past emulsion stage) is what contributed to both. Honestly, the raw soap was so soupy that transporting the finished batch to the oven for overnight CPOP (Cold Process Oven Process) - a span of maybe 4' from where I worked - was nerve-wracking.

It was also challenging to figure out what to enter: I liked the clean simplicity of the first attempt, the emotion of the second, the design of the third, and the POP of the forth. I ended up posting this grouping to FB to get a sense of what appealed to most people. The verdict was almost evenly divided. This was a Rorschach test of soap design.

Pointy layer attempts

Ultimately, I chose to enter my final attempt (#4). While my design concept initially started in a different direction, I felt drawn to the bold yet simple palette. One comment on my private FB page mentioned the artist Mondrian. I also looked into the later works of Jean Miro.

Here's what I found:

Pier Mondrian Composition II with Red, Blue, and YellowPiet Mondrian, Dutch painter and theoretician, is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th Century and a pioneer of 20th century abstract art. As his work evolved from figurative painting to an increasingly abstract focus, Mondrian's artistic style was reduced to simple geometric elements, as seen in his 1930's piece, Composition II with Red, Blue, and Yellow.

Jean Miro The Birth of DayJean Miro, Spanish artist, sculptor, and ceramist of roughly the same period, also started with a figurative style, was greatly influenced by cubism, then ultimately favored a more surrealistic style of expression, a "Sandbox for the mind" with a childlike spirit. His 1968 painting, The Birth of Day, illustrates a bold simplicity that defined many of his later pieces.

The more I thought about these two artists, the more I could relate to their style and evolution. In art school, we had started with technique fundamentals - usually more figurative (literal representation). But after you've become practiced in line work (drawing), understanding light (photography), shape (sculpture), and color (painting), there's more freedom to find your own style.

I started out as an animation major - who knew I'd end up working in the medium of soap (and learning about chemistry)? It has been a gleeful process.

So there you have it. Pop soap with a side of art history. 

Mondrian meets miro soap

Thanks, kind reader, for following along the process. And thanks again to Amy for organizing, and for Teri's generosity in sharing her fun technique.

Soaping friends: Did you attempt this challenge? Were you able to resist creating less than five batches? What did you think?

(Non-soaping friends - did you agree with the entry choice? Judging by the FB response...well, we'll see {g})

- L.










  • Lisa Melli Gillespie

    Thanks for the feedback on my soap and blog, Teri – takes me forever to write a post, but then I end up enjoying the process. Duh.

  • Lisa Melli Gillespie

    Thanks so much, Leslie!

  • Lisa Melli Gillespie

    Marian – I appreciate your appreciation of art – thanks so much!

  • Lynette Olsen

    I echo the others when I say I love your colors and I also love #3. What fragrance did you use for numbers 3 and 4? I’m always curious when it isn’t mentioned.

  • Cheryl Wetzler/ Saponaceous

    Pop Art Indeed! Love the art history mixed with bold colors and an equally bold design! Love your blog and entry. It gives so much satisfaction to experiment with new design techniques. Beautiful soap!

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