How to carve a bar of soap into a smaller soap shape. Discussion of various tools that can be used for this purpose. A little silliness - the carving I made is a kind of slug thing - I'm going to cast it in plastic and glue one googly eye to the upturning end. See the flat part?
Step 1: Outline the basic shape
Draw a side elevation of the shape you'll carve on the side of the soap. Starting with 2-D on one side of the block is a good way to start thinking in 3-D.
Step 2: Carve out the basic shape
I started doing this carving with a Dremel tool, but quickly found that a knife worked much better for the coarse work. Ivory soap at least is quite soft and carves easily. I tried a cutting blade and a grinding disk. The grinding disk is more effective than the cutting blade but both are slower than knife.
Step 3: Do the fine carving
For smoothing out the edges, the Dremel works better than a knife, especially a serrated one. Try several different grinding bits depending on the shape you're working with.
Step 4: It's soap, wash it.
For a final smoothing, soap as a medium has this great advantage that it dissolves in water. I didn't want to put it under the tap at first, but really, soap doesn't go away all at once. You do have to rub at it. A wet finger isn't enough - dunk that baby.
I could have gotten this smoother if I'd put more effort into it, but I decided it was Fine. SO my slug will be a bit lumpy... that's OK.