How to make a circular piece of handmade felt
Making a piece of handmade felt is easy once you know how. The biggest challenge of making wet felt is that it requires quite a bit of energy to do all the rolling. But fear not, you can make this piece of circular felt with much less effort. No rolling required. Yay.
If you would like to try, here is a step-by-step guide. Try some felting fun today!
1. Place a dinner plate on a big towel on a flat surface. You’ll need a few colours of wool fleece, and perhaps some merino/silk tops for the final layer. (This bit is optional. Plain colours work just as well.)
2. Begin by holding the wool fleece in one hand, and gently coaxing wool fibres out using your other hand. Be gentle, and go slowly, slowly, slowly. The fibres you lay out should be as wispy as a spider’s web. Place the fibres so they are running horizontally across the plate. Cover the plate in a horizontal layer, not too thick. You should be able to see through the fibres to the plate at this stage.
3 & 4. . On your second layer, place your fibres vertically, left to right. Work from top to bottom until the plate is covered. Overlap your fibres by about one centimetre so the felt is an even thickness. Change colour if you wish, but you can keep it all the one colour if you prefer.
5. On your third layer (the final layer), place your fibres across the plate horizontally, in the same manner you did the first layer.
6. Tidy up the edges by pushing them onto the plate.
7. If you want to, you can add a fancy layer too. On this piece, I’ve used a light covering of a wool/silk blend to bring out a bit of shine when it dries. (This felt was used as a doll’s body for a little girl who loved pink and purple.)
8. You are ready to begin wet felting. Fill a small container with warm water, and add a small handful of Lux soap flakes (or a squirt of detergent) to it. Stir it around until the water feels soapy and a little slimy, but kind of nice and soft. Use your hand to dribble the soapy water onto the felt, trickling it all over.
9. When the felt is semi-wet, (4 handfuls of water should do it) place a piece of netting on top of it. Little hands can help this part. Just press down the water, and push it out towards the edges. Begin to rub and rub, all over the felt. It should begin to soap up, and suds show. Rub the felt for about 2 minutes so it begins to form a material.
10. Remove the netting. Then go around the plate, tucking in the edges underneath the felt. Add a little more water if necessary to ensure the entire piece is damp, right through the felt batt stack of fibres to the base.
11. More soap than water is the key to the felting process and alchemical reaction. To increase the suds, drop a few more Lux flakes directly onto the netting. Work that felt, baby! Vigorously work the felt for about 10 minutes.
12. Lift netting off the felt. To strengthen the felt, work one side for one minute, then turn it over and work the underside for one minute. Repeat 5 times. Your felt will begin to look like this.
13. To finish, fold the felt into quarters, then throw down the felt bundle onto the towel, again and again, with a bit of passion. Do this for 10 minutes to shrink the fibres and make them knot together as tightly as possible.
14. Wash your felt under runnning water to remove all the soap suds, then hang out to dry.