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
- 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
- Start by pulling apart the wool multiple times to loosen the fibers.
- 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.
- Gently alternate the wool from one hand to another. Do this back and forth about 70 times.
- 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.
- Keep repeating. A dense ball will form as the fibers become agitated by the hot soapy water.
Basic Instructions for Needle Felting
- Pull a wisp of wool, thin it with your hands, and lay it on the foam block.
- Repeat step one but lay the wool in the opposite direction.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have a thin layer of wool around 3/8 inch thick.
- Take your needle and stab through the wool into the foam block. The felted needle has barbs that bond the fibers through each other.
- 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
Woolly Meadows Felting
You may also like to read this post - Needle Sizes and Their Uses.