Tate Kids



Soap Carving

Tate St Ives

The Idea

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

Dame Barbara Hepworth Tides, 1946 © Bowness, Hepworth Estate


The Plan

You going to create a simple and natural sculpture using 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.


You Need

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

Do it!

  • Think about the way you would like your sculpture to look then sketch a simple shape onto wide side of your bar of soap.
  • "Mirror" your design on the other side.
  • Carefully use your scrapers and peelers to carve your design. Scrape away at the edges and twist onto 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.

Top Tips

  • When you are thinking about how you would like your sculpture to look, think about how it will feel to hold as well. Touch is very important in sculpture.
  • Remember you cannot put something back when you have carved it off! Plan your sculpture carefully.
  • Think about what you are doing. You may not be using knives but you can still hurt yourself if you are not careful.
See It