What is Felt, and How to Make a Felted Piece of Art?

What is Felt, and How to Make a Felted Piece of Art?

Felt is a non-woven textile created from sheep's, alpaca's, or goat's wool when exposed to heat, moisture, pressure, or agitation. Felting is extremely simple and requires a special needle, a foam block, and wool. It is ideal for a classroom activity. 

Wool fibers face in one direction. When the fibers cross, they will virtually lock together as they travel under agitation by poking with a needle or rubbing the fibers together in the palm of your hands with hot water and soap- known as wet felting—the agitation resulting in the fibers forming a permanent bond. Adding soap in wet felting helps to speed up the process.

Tools and Materials

  • Needle
  • Foam block (for needle felting only)
  • Soap (for wet felting only)
  • Wool (roving)
  • Needle (38 gauge commonly used)

Basic Instruction for Wet Felting a Wool Ball

  1. Start by pulling apart the wool multiple times to loosen the fibers. 
  2. Gently roll the fibers together into a loose ball. Fill a bowl with hot water and add soap to the wool. Dunk the wool ball into the water.
  3. Gently alternate the wool from one hand to another. Do this back and forth about 70 times.
  4. Dip in hot water and gently roll the wool between your palms in a circular motion, as if rolling a ball. This process takes patience initially, as it will seem like the ball needs to take shape. Keep rolling; if the ball is too soapy, dunk it into the hot water and continue rolling gently.
  5. Keep repeating. A dense ball will form as the fibers become agitated by the hot soapy water.

Basic Instructions for Needle Felting

  1. Pull a wisp of wool, thin it with your hands, and lay it on the foam block.
  2. Repeat step one but lay the wool in the opposite direction.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have a thin layer of wool around 3/8 inch thick.
  4. Take your needle and stab through the wool into the foam block. The felted needle has barbs that bond the fibers through each other.
  5. Continue repeatedly stabbing through the wool until it bonds to create felt.

We recommend buying a DIY felting kit. It is a great way to try felting. We recommend handmade kits by the following artists. Of course we listed ourselves first. 😎

Caron Designs, LLC
oolly Meadows Felting
Living Felt

You may also like to read this post - Needle Sizes and Their Uses.


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