Monday, May 14, 2012

Beginning Wet Felting - Making "Snakes"

  Wet felting is the traditional way to make felt. It originated so long ago in ancient history that no one really knows how it started. Here’s a simple way to get the feel of felting.

For some reason, I dislike felting balls with the wet felting method. A lot of people like it, but I don't. I needle-felt them. But I do wet felt "snakes" that I use for various purposes including handles for my felted bags. It's a great beginner project since you can feel the skin develop on the wool. It's a great one to do with kids as well.

You'll need some hot water. Doesn't have to be so hot it burns, but very warm.
Some soap. I use glycerin hand soap that I make. I don't find that dish soap is very effective.
Some carded wool or roving. Pull off a piece to length and a little bigger than the finished piece. You'll get a feel for it with practice.
A towel.

Lay out your towel. You'll use it to roll the roving.
Dip the roving in the hot water, squeeze out the excess and rub just a bit of the soap on it. You don't want it too soapy but a little helps the water to penetrate the wool.
Lay the roving on the towel. You can twist it to make it a little easier to work. Gently start to roll it. Barely touch it at first, just enough to get it to roll. You will start to feel a skin develop as the wool felts. You can use more pressure as it hardens. Once it feels really hard, you can wad it up and roll it like a ball in your hand. This is the FULLING process. If it's really felted, it won't try to stick together much at all. Rinse with cool water with a splash of vinegar to remove the soap. Continue fulling until it feels about as hard as it's going to get. Pull it gently to straighten it and hang to dry.
If you want to make a circle, or to join pieces to make a longer one, leave tufts on the ends dry. After felting the snake, join the dry tufted ends together and gently felt that section.
Have fun and go ahead, try to felt those darn balls....

Disclaimer: There is no one right way to felt. You will find plenty of instructions that will differ from mine. This is the way I do it. Try other methods and see which you like best.
© Lana Pettey 2009

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