27. června 2016

Soapmakers of the world: Tatsiana Serko’s Art of SoapMaking (Belarus, USA)

From Belarus with love

 Russian version                                    
Photos from Tatsiana Serko’s personal archive

My friends, today we have a unique opportunity to touch the world of high art, the art of soapmaking of course. You would definitely recognize my guest from the first photos of her soaps because they embody originality, refinement, elegance, the creator's intricacy and at the same time they have incredible lightness and airiness. Let's get acquainted with Tatsiana Serko (Creative Soap by Steso) a little bit closer.

... I love my husband more than anything in this world,
so I decided to move abroad...

- I'm sure you had to answer this question many times, but alas it cannot be missed. How did it all begin?
- I learned about soapmaking by chance as I had stumbled across a Youtube video. I couldn't believe my eyes that the natural soap can be done at home. I was so impressed that I began to search everything I could find about it right the very next day. And of course, I had a Teacher and my best friend Elena Cherenko. She lived 200 kilometers far from me. We had met on one of the forums and started to closely communicate. I still remember how I used to grab everything I had: molds, oils and other ingredients, put everything in the car and drive to Elena’s house for a few days and we used to make soap day and night. Almost without sleeping. And again next month, every month or ometimes every week. I even used to have my own room on the second floor of her house. We've had a lot of funny stories and moments. I remember that time with a smile.

Tatsiana's first soap 17.9.2011

9 colors in a drawer (14.10.2011)

"...the most beautiful soap for me that time..."

- What is your education? What interests did you have before starting with soapmaking? What did you want to be when you were a child?
- I am a teacher of elementary school grades, but I have never worked at school. I realized that I prefer computers and everything associated with them and so I worked in IT. I can fully assemble and disassemble a computer within 20 minutes. As a child I wanted to become a doctor.

15.11.2011 - 2 month of soapmaking

"... this was perchaps the hardest one soap for me..."

- Did something change in your life after you had found soapmaking?
- Once I began to make soap my life has completely changed. I am thinking about the technology and design all the time... Even when I'm in a store I transmit everything I see on the soap: "Oh, what a nice tube, I need it so much, I can make soap with dots using it", "oh, what a spatula, I need it for my soap too", "oh, what a box, it is exactly the size it should be "... - and that happens in a shoe store, I will not even tell you what happens in soapmaking supplies stores...

"In 2012 I begun to make my own impression mats for soap..."

- What is the attitude of your relatives towards soapmaking, was there anyone in your family who followed your example?
  - My husband always supports me, in the beginning when I first started, he even tried to make a mold for me, it was very crooked, but it was my favorite one. He also has his favorite recipes and designs that I make just for him, as well as odors, I pick them up for him only. My brother knows how to make soap, but only melt and pour.

- How was your pseudonym “Steso” created?
- In fact it was just a nickname created for some forum, my first boyfriend came up with it, unfortunately he died of heart attack at the age of 23, it was 15 years ago. I kept this pseudonym as a memory... not to forget him.

"I made my first cutter after 2 month of soapmaking"
"This inventory was made by my friend"

- What else are you fond of besides soapmaking?
- I like drawing, working with polymer clay, embroider, sew, work with wood. I like watching good movies or spend time in nature, I don’t probably differ from other people in that. I have a lot of interests, I’m making something all the time.

"I love horses ..."

- How did you get to the USA?
- We came to the USA in December 2013, my husband was offered a job here. I took our move very hard because I'm quite conservative and do not particularly like changing the way of life, besides, I already had my soap company that was very hard to open. But I love my husband more than anything in the world, so I decided to move abroad.

"I love adrenalin..."

"...and dancing"

- Oh, a soap company in Minsk! Please tell us more…
- Yes, I had a soap company, the idea arose itself or I would rather say it was a logical continuation. Everyone wants to have a job that he/she likes, I just made my dreams come true. It was a very difficult time for me, I had been gathering all the official papers for opening for almost a year and a half. It is very hard in Belarus to open a soap company, it's almost impossible. But I went through this. Unfortunately the company had worked only 4 years. My husband was offered a 3 year contract in the United States, and I knew that it was a vital necessity for his development. I gave up everything and followed him. I know that he would have done exactly the same if he were me. Now the soap company is in a hibernate mode.

"Me and my husband are also having a hobby..."

"... we are taking photos in funny hats"

I've always had forces for a new attempt even when I go to bed at three in the morning, falling from fatigue.
 And suddenly the idea of a design comes to me and
"Oh my God!"... I turn and walk back into the kitchen to embody it

- Let's talk about the soap and creativity. On your blog you write that at first you felt the fear that disappeared six months later...
- Yes, I used to have a fear of misunderstanding of what I was doing, it's not even a fear, but the confusion as I could not control the batter. It took control of me and I did not like it. But as time goes by I began to understand what I was doing and the fear was gone.

- What don’t you still know about soapmaking? Maybe some techniques, oil properties, additives, designs...
- My knowledge of soapmaking is quite extensive and I suppose I will be able to answer any question, both about the process or about the design. But I have the need to learn new methods, both in technology and in design.

- One of your soaps was inspired by the work of the Brazilian soapmaker Amauri Oliviera, so does it mean that you are following other soapmakers?
- I like the works of lots of artists all over the world, I cannot even list them, because it will last very long.

- What was the most difficult (to understand, study, realize) in soapmaking? Where did you get the strength for a new attempt?
- I cannot remember any particular moments when it was hard, perhaps there were no such moments or I just took them not as something complex, but rather as it was the next stage at which my knowledge would be at the higher level. I've always had forces for a new attempt even when I go to bed at three in the morning, falling from fatigue. And suddenly the idea of a design comes to me and ... "Oh my God!"... I turn and walk back into the kitchen to embody it.

- Why don’t you make soap in a bad mood or when you're angry?
- As a rule I choose rather complex designs which require full attention and concentration and of course preparation. When I’m concerned about something, it's difficult for me to concentrate on. I prefer reading a book or painting at such moments.

New technique "Cosmic Wave"

  "Cosmic Wave" - modification of  "Whirlwind" and "Feathered in th Pot" swirl by Tatsiana

"Cosmic Wave" was created as a modification of "Whirlwind" swirl
 (which is a Feathered in the Pot modification itself)

- What part of making soap do you like most?
- Cleaning up after soapmaking! (I'm kidding ... I hate cleaning after making soap). Soap making process for me is a single one unit so I like everything!

This photo became an inspiration for creating new technique.
Whirlwind swirl soap (another photo here) by soap.baby
Whirlwind swirl by Tatsiana

 - Are you an author of any soap technique?
- It is a very difficult question, because it is probably very hard to come up with something new in soapmaking, and I'm not sure that if I call techniques I invented they had not been embodied before. So this is quite a sensitive issue and I prefer not to talk about it. Even if I am one hundred percent sure that no one before me did this. Besides, I do not like bragging about)))

New technique "Cosmic Wave"
"Cosmic Wave" technique was created as modification of "Whirlwind" and "Feathered in the Pot" swirl
New Tatsiana's  "Cosmic Wave"was created as a modification of "Whirlwind" and "Feathered in the Pot" swirl

- What technique is the most difficult for you so far? Which is the favorite one? I read that you have been pouring one soap for 12 hours and you won't do it any more)))
-There are no difficulties in soapmaking for me, there are only badly planned designs and technology. If one thinks about everything and prepares in advance, it is possible to use any sophisticated technique easily, it is just about to have patience and I have sooooo much of it. I do not have a favorite technique, all of them are favorite. There are simply techniques that you did once and there are techniques that are repeated with some modifications, additions and so on. Although I rarely repeat designs, I always need to make something new.

Baroque soap - Soap Challenge Club winner

Can't you crawl? Just lie down and stay in the direction of the dream!

- Have you ever had a feeling that your gift is disturbing you, makes you do or feel something that you do not want? Such pangs of creativity...
- Regarding the pangs of creativity, I know what things I do well and I try to use what is given to me at maximum. Of course I’m not always successful and of course I could be upset by this. I never comfort myself with the thought that the soap "wanted" it to be like that. No, I will fight hard to make it happen the way I want to, because I know that I can. The only pang that I have is when I want to bring the idea to life and I have neither strength nor time. I live by the principle: Is there a dream? Run for it. You can’t run? Come to it. You can’t go? Crawl to it. You cannot crawl? Lie down and stay in the direction of the dream! And I have another one principle: if there is an entry, then there must be the exit, so I have no pangs of creativity, I have only a process of creation. I have never had a thought that, what is given to me, bothers me.

- You have your own soapmaker’s school. Can you tell us how long it exists, why and how it was created, how many soapmakers are studying there and from what countries, in what language are you teaching?
- Yes, I have, indeed, an online school of soapmaking, it is completely free of charge, at the moment there are 160 soapmakers from all around the world. As for the countries: Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Israel, US, Belarus and many others ... The girls are spending a lot of time communicating with each other, doing their homework every month, working on the equipment extra classes as well. Not only do I teach this or that technique, but also tell and show how to make user-friendly tools, such as a soap planer, cutters or molds.

- What should a person do to get into it?
 - School enrollment is managed by one of the students and my friend Nadezhda. She conducts interviews and puts on a waiting list. And also she decides if you get at my school or not. In my school there is another teacher and also my friend Elena, you know her by the name Soap Techniques. She comes up with great technologies!

- Is it possible to finish your school and get a “diploma”?
- You may graduate from school, of course, in case you stopped making soap... something like that.

Vera Lede ("Savonnerie" soap school)

Olga Demina ("Savonnerie" soap school)

Olga Demina ("Savonnerie" soap school)

- What are your plans for the future, what would you like to do and how do you want to develop further? Molds, cutters or some other equipment, inventing techniques or recipes, maybe you want to write a book, won't you?
- To write a book, yes ... now that's 5 years since I have started writing it and still it is not finished. I would like to do everything to offer a comprehensive range of services for soapmakers, starting with teaching and ending with the equipment. Besides, I'd like to offer a good soap for the people who appreciate natural handmade soaps. But this is only at the idea generation stage, but I will make it real!

- Tanya, tell me about the book, it turns out you started writing it right after you had got acquainted with soapmaking?
- Yes, I started write at the beginning of 2012. I wanted to show all of my emotions, errors, experience, the process of creating good recipes and designs from the very beginning. So I started writing it after half a year from the beginning of making soap. At the moment my interest in writing the book has faded, so it will be waiting for it’s day…

- You write on your blog that there are some paid tutorial videos. Where can we buy it?
- Unfortunately, nowhere, but I am working in this direction, I just need to have 48 hours a day instead of 24, and then I'm sure I would manage to do all I’ve planned! I hope some tutorials will be available soon, I will make the announcement on my blog.

- When did you start making soap molds and why? In America there is indeed lots of different molds, but you make your own... What countries do your molds and cutters swim or fly to?
- I started making my own molds at the same time as I began making soap, it was in 2011. I like messing around with wood, and in 99 percent of cases I do not like the size of the purchased molds. Every design requires its own soap size, for example, the design that will look great in the mold 5.5 cm wide, will no longer look perfect in the mold 6.5 cm wide. Also I am not satisfied with the length of the purchased molds, especially when I make experimental soap.
I like everything to be perfect, so I find it easier to make the mold by myself. As for my artisan cutters and molds, they fly all around the world.

- What happens to your soap after curing? Do you give it to your friends or family?
-  Mostly my husband and I are using my soaps, of course I make gifts and sometimes I sell soap.

- How do you call yourself? A soapmaker, a soap designer or maybe a master of soap?
- Hmmm ... I have never thought of it, I consider myself to be just a soapmaker, and I am proud to say, that I am a soapmaker!

I would like to thank Tanya for her frank and interesting story.
And I hope it was as much interesting for you, my friends, as it was for me, and a SOAPMAKER (please say very proudly) Tatsiana Serko has become a bit closer to us.

You could find Tatsiana’s work here:
You could send your orders for the amazing inventory to:

2 komentáře:

  1. Odpovědi
    1. Hi, Omneya, the school is in Russian and it would be difficult for smb who does not know Russian to study there... I asked Tatsiana about it..