Archives for posts with tag: felting

nesting bowls in felt are cozy, homey, and cute

Felt bowls are cute, no doubt about it. Little fuzzy display bowls that can fit into one another, that’s even cuter! I decided to make some nesting bowls today, and documented the process to share with you.

If you know how to make felt already, and are looking for a craft that will provide you with two or three hours of crafting and will be suitable for an Easter display or gift, look no further. If you haven’t made felt at all yet, I would advise you to first try making a piece or two of flat felt, to get an idea of how felting works.

some of the basic supplies

To start, I gathered my basic felting supplies. I used bubble wrap, soap, a kettle of water, loose wool (roving), scissors, and a measuring tape. You might also like to have a towel on hand, a bowl, and perhaps some paper and a pen.

a trick to cut your templates: fold them in half to ensure each side is even

I thought that I’d like to make three little nesting-bowls. I choose three colours of wool roving that coordinated well together. I decided to blend colours for two of the bowls, and wanted to add dashes of all the colours on all the bowls. I had intended to just make single-colour bowls, but I couldn’t help myself! Obviously, you can use whatever mix of colours you would like.

The basic procedure for making the bowls, no matter what size they are, is relatively simple. The challenge was to make bowls that would “fit into” one another… to account for sizing and so forth. I decided to make a simple bowl shape, then add 1 inch on every side for the next size up. I added about an inch or so to THAT one for the largest bowl. I cut all these templates out of bubble wrap. In retrospect, I’d have preferred to have made some smaller bowls, too. However, as I had saved my templates, I can make smaller ones at a later date.

three layers of roving, and the template on top

To begin any sort of resist felting, lay out three layers of wool roving at right angles to each other, so that they extend about 2 inches past the template-size. In this case, I made sure that the top of the bowl didn’t have this extension, because it would be left open in the end. If I’d wanted to make a more spherical object, I could have extended the top end too. I like to lay my template under my piece of bubble wrap as a guide for the first overlapping layers. However if you find that is too hard to see through the bubble wrap you are working on, you can trace the template shape onto a piece of paper and place this under the bubble wrap to guide you. Remember it is important to extend up to about 2 inches PAST the template-shape, in order to create a meshing of wool.

Once the first three layers of roving have been placed, gently spray some lukewarm water onto them. Be gentle, allowing the water to just fall onto the wool. Next, place your template on top of this. Make sure that the top aligns with the top of the wool. Remember there should be almost 2 inches of extra wool all around the rest of the shape. Take this extra wool and fold onto the template.

encased, with soap on it... ready for boiling water!

The final step before really felting is to lay three more layers of wool roving, at right angles to one another, on top of this. Try to fill the entire “template” area, even though much of it is covered around the edges. This will ensure that there are no holes or awkward seam parts to your bowl.

Spray the wooly work again, being gentle. Then drizzle  pure dish-soap overtop. Pour some boiling (or very hot) water on it, and then lay another piece of bubble wrap on top. Pat it (if it’s not too hot to do so!) and rub it. Pay special attention to rub the seam area… we really want the wool there to mesh quickly. After a minute or so of patting, flip the work over, and pat the other side.

pay special attention to the edges, to ensure the wool meshes

Try opening the bubble-wrap up to rub the wool directly. Within a minute or so of patting and rubbing, you should be able to gently lift the object. Pry open the top part, and gently rub the edges. If it’s fused, force it open. It’s ok at this point; you can do almost anything to this malleable mass.

this doesn't look much like a bowl... but it will!!

Lift the object, turn it in your hands. Rub the inside and outside of the seam area. If there are sparse patches or holes, try adding a little more wool roving on top. Put some more soap, a dash of water, and gently rub it in your hands. Work on the seam area, and rub the entire object.

Turn it inside out, and rub the inside on your bubble wrap. turn it back outside-out, and rub the whole object on the bubble wrap. Keep it open, don’t allow it to lay flat again.

After a few minutes, you can gently drop the object onto the table. Do this a few times, trying to hit a different part of the bowl each time. Start to hit it harder; and focus on any bumps or strange parts. It is almost magical, how the wool will tighten into felt as you do this. It will shrink quite a great deal, too! If you have a bathtub nearby, try hurling the wooly mass into it several times. Start more gentle, then hurl with all your might.

while hurling, rubbing, getting the bowl felted and fulled and shrunk. ten seconds later, the seam had disappeared. Like magic.

If the bowl is cold, pour some more boiling or hot water on it. Friction, compression, and heat all conspire to turn wool into felt. So, more heat can’t hurt!

Finally, when your bowl is looking like a bowl, set it. You can set it “rim-side-up” on a table, or you can stuff it with bubble wrap (like I’ve done in the examples) and turn upside down. Like a sweater that you lay flat to dry, wool felt will have a memory. It likes to maintain the shape that it is left to dry in.

after being felted, fulled, and rinsed, I formed my bowls by cramming bubblewrap into them, and leaving overnight on my table.

If you are in the Montreal area and would like to take a felt-making class, please be in contact with me. I will be teaching this technique (and more!) in workshops of varying lengths. Happy felting!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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what ever could this be...

As I mentioned the other week, I am in the midst of teaching a course on felt-making. To make the class interesting and varied, I’m including a range of options for forming loose wool into felt objects. This last week my students and I formed little “sushi rolls” out of wool.

wool, not rice nor seaweed

The beads that one makes in this technique end up looking like little spirals or, like I did in the sample, can look sort of like sushi. It is a technique that is fun and takes almost no skill, once you know what to do.

roll the "sushi" on and in the bubble-wrap

Lay out some wool roving on bubble-wrap. Lay a second layer on top, going at roughly a right angle. Maybe lay a third layer… then spray with warm water, put on a light drizzle of dish-soap, pour hot water over it, and roll up. Roll it inside the bubble wrap, back and forth. After a while roll it in between your hands, pressing as hard as you can. The wool will felt into a tube, which you can cut with scissors or a blade to get “sushi roll” styled beads. These could be used as decorations, as “mini sushi” or as earrings, beads in a necklace, as buttons…

little rolled bead (in progress) and a pinch of a "sushi"

While you’re at it, you can roll some little bits of wool up into little balls. Just keep your hands soapy, roll it around until it becomes a ball… about ten minutes is usually more than enough! You then have a round bead. Personally, I find that I am a little impatient with making round beads, however, they are cute and decorative. Every one that I’ve made, I’ve used for something!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Felted soaps make really cool presents, and are conversation-pieces.

Felted soap is a lovely and unique gift that just takes a bit of patience, but anyone can do it! You need some wool roving, a soap of any type, a bit of bubble wrap (or a bamboo mat, or a texured waterproof surface), a towel, an old pair of nylons, and then some hot water (even boiling!)

A soap, some roving... a bit of bubble-wrap, a towel.

For the roving, you can ask at your local wool-shop if they have roving, otherwise you might like to order some online.

Wrap the bar of soap in wool layers, placing the wool at right angles. It is good to wrap the soap fairly snugly. If it is too loose, it could cause weird bumps, but on the end it would still be ok. Work a few layers, until you cannot see the soap anymore. Keep in mind that the wool will shrink and shift somewhat as you do this, so what you lay out on the soap will probably not be exactly what you will end up with! The factor of surprise in this is actually part of the fun.

Beginning to wrap the soap in wool roving...

Place the felt-covered soap inside a pocket made from nylon pantyhose. I bought my first pair of nylons in possibly decades in order to make felted soaps. From those nylons I cut a few lengths and tied off the ends to make several pockets, so then I could teach soap-felting workshops. Don’t worry too much if the wool shifts a little while you put it in the pocket; it is possible to adjust the wool when you remove it from the pocket later on.

Pour hot water over the pocket. Rub the soapy mass inside the pocket for about eight to ten minutes. Roll it in a towel to remove some of the lather and excess moisture.

Wool-covered soap in the pocket!

Remove the soap/felt from the nylon pocket, then rub the felted soap on bubble-wrap until the felt is truly felted down and matted against the soap. During this process, you might need to rub a little more water on the soap, or roll it again in the towel if it’s a bit too lathery. Do this until you see that the wool is all stuck together, a few minutes. Try making a few of these felted soaps, and you’ll get the hang of it!

The felt will shrink as you use the soap over time, until there is no soap left and you have a cute little ball of wool that you could cut to turn into a little pouch, or a cat-toy… or even Christmas decorations.

In the process of felting the soap!

I have a business selling felted soaps (amongst other things) and my clients have told me that they love the gentle exfoliation of the wool, how fine and frothy the soap lather is, and that the soap lasts much longer than if it wasn’t wearing such a nicely felted wool sweater! Enjoy!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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