Well-known Muscat based artist Sandesh Rangnekar is once again honing his talent. This time he is creating amazing carvings on soap bars. Sandesh, who has used different media till date including acrylic, water-colour, oil, pencil, squid bone and peepal leaves, is trying soap art for the first time.
So how did the thought of carving on soap come about? "I was bathing my 10-month-old daughter. To avoid her from splashing water in the bath tub, I gave her a soap to hold. As she was fascinated with it, I let her play. After sometime, I noticed that she had carved designs on it with the help of her nails. This got me thinking, and I decided to try it out. The inspiration behind the creativity is my little one," says Sandesh.
Like his recent series of paintings on peepal leaves, Sandesh has carved out an array of subjects on soap including Oman landscapes, nature and people.
For his soap art series, Sandesh has carved out a horse, rose, incense burner, ROHM building and a ship. He has even etched out Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, late founder of the Muscat Press and Publishing House.
Each of his pieces was finished in one sitting. "But you need around three hours to finish a piece," he says. As Sandesh is new to this medium of art, he is not sure how soap art can be preserved in the long term.
"I hope to find out a way to preserve these art pieces," he says.
Admitting soap is a very different medium, Sandesh says, "I had to struggle because it becomes hard and sticky while carving. Before starting work on soap I had to get the right tools such as knife, wooden tools, pencil, paper and soap," he says.Sandesh feels that children should be encouraged to take up this form of art.
"Since soap is soft, we don't need a sharp knife to carve. Plastic knives would also work," he says.Soap carving is a fun and easy way to create sculptures from a bar of soap. The final art work can be displayed as a show piece.
How to carve on a soap bar
Choose a bar of soap. Ivory soaps are preferred although any other bar of soap will also work.
To start with, think of simple designs to carve such as fish, bird or perhaps just a heart.
Sketch the outline of the shape on the bar with a knife or any other instrument. Make sure your hands are dry otherwise the soap will get sticky.
Hold the knife in your right hand and the soap in your left (reverse this if you are left-handed). Always carve away from yourself. Your hand should be behind the knife or blade at all times.
Pay attention to the feel of the knife. How thick a layer can you take off at once? Where does the knife get stuck?
Use the knife to gradually shave away layers until you achieve the shape you want. The actual carvings begin with rough cuts that remove the large parts of the bar which are not necessary for your design. Carve gradually from the high points toward the deepest cuts. Your knife point is useful for this.
Don't try to finish any one part in detail before another. When the piece is almost finished, refine the rough edges with the knife's edge.
Mark details like eyes, nose or ears with the pointer instrument. Then, rub it with a soft paper napkin. Be careful not to break off corners or high points. Finish by rubbing it gently with fingers or palm.