My trademark iris

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Soap Carving - A Lost Art?

I have always felt my paternal grandmother was probably the biggest influence on my creativity. She was truly an artist in her own right. We stayed with her when we were kids while our parents worked, and she always had art projects ready for us. She recycled materials as far back as the 60's, seriously! Even though she was only 4'10" tall, she was a little bundle of energy. She was always working on something.

One of her many talents was soap carving. Ivory Soap made huge bars and she would buy them and store them in dresser drawers to "age". She had a tiny penknife that she used to carve the aged bars of soap. She carved a nativity scene that had about 70 pieces. A display case for it that was covered with navy blue velvet. She also carved a wedding party with the bride, groom and their 6 attendants. Both groups were entered in the state fair during the 40's and 50's. I have the blue ribbon for the bridal party from 1947. I also have the bride and groom. The detail she captured was amazing and her sense of scale was spot on.

The soap has aged to a yellowish patina and it is a bit crumbly. The bride and groom are all that is left. I am afraid the photos of the complete sets are long gone. For posterity's sake, I have photographed it before it is gone. I don't think you can even get the huge bars of Ivory soap anymore.


GetGlassy said...

What a lovey memory. The carvings are wonderful. It must have been something to see the whole set.

lawatha said...

What a treasure! That bride and groom set is wonderful! Your Grandmother sounds like she was a lot of fun. I don't remember ever doing anything crafty (or fun, for that matter) with either of my two grandmothers, which I never got the chance to really know since we saw each other so seldom. I envy your memories with your grandmother- that's wonderful! She really was quite talented- nice of her to pass the talent genes on to you! : )

Smokeylady60 said...

Oh my Sharon,

How special,how beautiful
What a treasure to have
It makes me want to cry for
the beauty and also the pieces
that were lost.
Thank you so much for
sharing this with us.

papernclay said...

Wow- very nicely done- what a neat art! I'd treasure it also!

Sycamore Moon Studios said...

That is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time!

Periwinkle Studio said...

She definitely was an amazing artist! Having that piece is most definitely a treasure. I wonder if there was a way you could preserve the sculpture.....

Thank you so much for sharing with us Her creativity lives on in you! :)