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Published: 02 July 2022

By Andy Ross

Sculpture - the clean way

Washing lambs for a soap advertising campaign.

The "How To Do It" series of books was published by The Studio Ltd in London and The Studio Publications Inc in New York in the early and mid 20th Century.

In this one, Soap Carving - Cinderella of Sculpture - Lester Gaba, a soap carving artist who worked with many famous companies and people, primarily on advertising campaigns, explains the process of sculpting this unusual material. 

Steps in creating a soapy pet.

This book was once the property of the Institute of Incorporated Practitioners in Advertising, based in Clement's Inn, London, and it evokes those bygone days beautifully. In its many tipped-in black-and-white photographs are whimsical studies for a soap advertisement of lambs being washed by a woman dressed in long, ruffled skirted dress (picture left) and six stages in Making a Pet Dog (picture right). The latter comes complete with a pattern for drafting the shape of the pooch too!

A table decoration of jugglers

If this is just too cute for you, how about a table decoration of jugglers or 22 inch high mannquins that were designed to show off the fabrics of a manufacturer and displayed alongside life-sized models? 

Fashionable mannequins in soap

One of Lester Gaba's "Gaba Girls", the name given to his mannequin creations, became famous in New York with her own box seats at the Met Opera, and invitations to weddings and galas. Cynthia was a real celebrity of the time and paved the way for those models that we are familiar with in department stores and shops the world over. It appears that the humble craft of soap carving may be of more value than the creation of mere ornaments.