Little Gingerbread Houses - Painting with Soap

Sometimes you'll need a creative alternative to an organic or vegan recipe. Not only does this one qualify, but it is a little unusual and will strike some curiosity in your shoppers. (Terrific at your market tables when you want something to chat about to new faces musing over your creations.)

Information & Details

Little Soap Houses Recipe

What you need to make this recipe:

All three parts use the same recipe

For the base houses

  • 9.12 oz. Distilled Water
  • 3.42 oz Lye (NaOH)
  • 9.6 oz. Palm Shortening
  • 3.6 oz. Olive Oil
  • 4.8 oz. Corn Oil
  • 6 oz. Coconut Oil
  • .5 oz Pumpkin Spice Fragrance Oil
  • .5 oz. Peppermint Fragrance Oil
  • 1 tsp. brown mica or pigment oxide

This yields 24 oz. of soap. - 4 oz. of soap for 6 individual gingerbread houses. These gingerbread houses are made to be a light brown gingerbread color, but you can also make them white or pink to suit your end result.

For the Clay/Dough trim

  • 6.08 oz. Distilled Water
  • 2.28 oz Lye (NaOH)
  • 6.4 oz. Palm Shortening
  • 2.4 oz. Olive Oil
  • 3.2 oz. Corn Oil
  • 4 oz. Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp. Titanium Dioxide.

This recipe yields 1 lb of white soap clay. Do not add fragrance to this portion. The pumpkin spice with turn the soap orange and make it more difficult to get the bright white frosting color to stand out.

For the Soap Paint

  • 2.28 oz. Distilled Water
  • .86 oz Lye (NaOH)
  • 2.4 oz. Palm Shortening
  • .9 oz. Olive Oil
  • 1.2 oz. Corn Oil
  • 1.5 oz. Coconut Oil

This recipe yields 6 oz. of soap and can easily be split up into 7 – 9 colors. ¼ tsp of mica per color, or less is used to make the soap paint. Colorants should be various mica colorants of your choice including pink, blue, yellow, green, or purple.

How To Make Hand Made Little Soap Houses

Part 1:

First, we'll begin this project by making the base houses and cast them in their molds. (If you do not have a ginger bread mold review the first chapter where we suggest how to make one.)

With your safety glasses, gloves, and mask, gently pour the lye crystals into the cold distilled water and dissolve them until the water has become an even solution. Set this aside to cool to room temperature, and melt the hard oils until they are a clear liquid. Blend the oils together and allow them to settle to room temperature, but do not allow them to become solid again. Pour the lye water solution into the oils when both mixtures are close in temperature and cool. They should be within 20 degrees from each other.

Mix this well with a stick blender and allow it to completely emulsify. Add both fragrance oils, 1 part pumpkin spice, and 1 part peppermint. Continue to mix. Gently add the brown colorant. You can use either a brown pigment or a brown mica. Brown pigments tend to take over very quickly, so make sure to thoroughly dissolve the powdered pigment into 2 tbsp. of corn oil first and gradually add it to the soap batter until you get the desired shade of ginger bread color your want.

When this is thoroughly mixed pour the 24 oz. Into 6 separate molds evenly. Set this aside to harden for 12 to 24 hours. This sets up very fast, but do not try to unmold to quickly or you will loose the details in the bottom of the mold.

We aren't done yet. Now, it's time to make the soap clay. Repeat the steps from the base recipe with the 1 lb. soap dough clay recipe above. In the soap dough do not add any fragrance, and the only colorant will be titanium dioxide. Once the soap batter is made, pour it into a small disposable plastic container with a lid. Cover the soap batter and set this aside to partially harden.

Part 2:

After 12 to 16 hours return to the poured houses. They should still be slightly soft but will unmold perfectly with just a little coaxing. It the soap does not slide easily away from the mold when the sides are peeled away, do not force it. Just give it a few more hours and wait until it easily slides from the mold. Set these aside on a clean paper towel.

Next, with gloves on pull the white soap out of the plastic container. It should be malleable and form it into a ball. Play with the soap just like you would with clay. If the texture behaves like clay it is ready to use. If is still too soft and does not roll into a small piece in your fingers, then wrap it in a sheet of plastic wrap and set it aside for a few more hours.

To begin decorating the houses start with the roofs. In our example pieces the roofs have a nice texture and we don't want to cover this in a layer of soap, so we're going to glaze the tops of the gingerbread houses with a mixture of cosmetic grade mica mixed with a light corn oil. (Grape seed oil is also idea for its light properties.)

Place ¼ tsp. of mica in a small plastic cup with 1 tbsp. Of corn oil. Mix this well and gently paint the tops of the roofs with the colorant. This isn't actually a paint. The oil is just a carrier to allow the mica to slide across the top evenly. Try to apply as little as oil as possible, because this will dry leaving the mica behind. Too much oil will result in the colorant dripping down the side. Once the slippery sheen is applied. Dust the top in a soft glitter for a frosted look.

Test the clay once more, and if it rolls evenly between your fingers it is ready to use. Roll small long snakelike pieces between your fingers about 1 to 2 inches long. Apply the white clay to the edged of the roof and along the sides of the walls. Putty the clay to the houses as if they were frosting on a ginger bread house. Set these aside until they are fully dried.

It may take a few houses until you get them to look exactly how you like. Don't worry if they don't seem to look to perfect. Once the soap hardens, you can go back with an exacto knife and trim and uneven sides afterward. Set these aside for 24 hours.

Part 3:

Now it's time to paint our creations. Once the houses are dried and hardened. Select the colors you want to use for your gingerbread houses. You can make the start Christmas colors or light garden pastels, or bright candy colors. Place small one ounce plastic cups – with lids - on the table.

Make a fresh batch of soap batter as described in part one, this time you only need to make 6 ounces of soap. Separate the soap batter evenly into the small once ounce cups. Add the mica colorant into each cup in the soap. Use no more than ¼ tsp. of any colorant, remember you only have just once ounce of soap to color so a tiny bit of colorant goes a long way. Mix each color smoothly into the soap and place the lids on top of the cups. It will take about 15 minutes for the colors to set up to become thick enough to use for paint. As you wait test the soap until it becomes the perfect texture to transfer onto the walls of the gingerbread houses.

As you work with each color keep the lids on the ones that you aren't working with. This will control the soap paint as you work so that it doesn't dry out to quickly. You will have anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to work with the soap as paint, and you can expect the texture to change as you go along.

If the paint begins to feel stiff, just give it a mix. Work with the gingerbread houses piece by piece until your paining is complete. If the paint becomes to dry to work with , or if you want to take a break and come back to it later you can always make a fresh 6 ounch batch and start over. Continue to paint your creations until all the houses are painted. Set these aside to dry for another 24 hours.

Now you are near your final creation. Once the soap has dried, you can go back and clean up your work and trim the pieces, or you can use the dough to add additional details. Your final result are adorable fully painted gingerbread houses.