Soap Carving

Create a simple sculpture inspired by nature, from a bar of soap!

The idea

Kids carving soap to make sculptures

© Tate

Barbara Hepworth was a key figure in the British abstract art movement in the 20th century. She often created sculptures which were inspired by nature. She lived near the seaside in St Ives, Cornwall and often used the shapes of shells and rocks to inspire her work.

She loved to work with wood and stone and, later on, in bronze. Her sculptures seem to be growing and look very natural.

The plan

Dame Barbara Hepworth, ‘Tides I’ 1946
Dame Barbara Hepworth
Tides I 1946
© Bowness

Inspired by the sculptures of Barbara Hepworth and by the shapes and forms in nature, carve a fabulous, simple abstract sculpture from a bar of white soap.

You do not have to finish your sculpture in one go. Take your time and really enjoy what you are doing.

What you need

Photograph of bars of soap

© Tate

  • Some cheap bars of white soap
  • Scrapers and peelers – use lolly sticks, teaspoons, potato peelers and similar objects

Step 1

Dame Barbara Hepworth, ‘Pierced Form’ 1963–4
Dame Barbara Hepworth
Pierced Form 1963–4
© Bowness
Dame Barbara Hepworth, ‘Two Figures (Menhirs)’ 1964
Dame Barbara Hepworth
Two Figures (Menhirs) 1964
© Bowness
Dame Barbara Hepworth, ‘Winter Solstice’ 1970
Dame Barbara Hepworth
Winter Solstice 1970
© Bowness

Design your sculpture.

Think about the way you would like your sculpture to look.

Look at the shapes, hollows and holes in Barbara Hepworth's sculptures for inspiration. Look a shapes in nature. Make sketches of the shapes of leaves, stones and shells.

Draw your design on paper using your research. It should be a simple shape and be more or less the size of a bar of soap.

Step 2

Details of carved bars of soap

© Tate

Draw your design onto the wide side of your bar of soap.

'Mirror' your design on the other side.

Step 3

Young people carving soap

Carefully use your scrapers and peelers to carve your design. Scrape away at the edges and twist into the surface to make holes.

Keep turning your soap over and over in your hands as you work. Then your finished sculpture will be rounded rather than flat.

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