Sunday, 19 February 2012

Felt Beads made from Merino Wool Tops

Felted beads made from Merino wool tops

Felt beads or balls can be used for making jewellery, as embellishments for clothes and accessories, or for making simple toys such as our Caterpillar which you can see in the Fact File.

The trick to making a regularly shaped ball or bead is how you start it.  I used a bowl of hot water with a good squirt of washing up liquid.  Pull wisps of wool out from the top and loosely shape them in your hands.  If you're trying to get the beads all the same size it is better to underestimate how much you need, as more can be felted onto the ball if necessary.

Cup the fibre ball in your hands (one hand on top and the other below) and briefly submerge into the soapy water.

Merino wool about to be felted into a ball

Begin to rotate the ball loosely between your cupped palms and the ball of fibre will begin to shrink and tighten in the soap suds.  If you work the fibres together too quickly, cracks may appear in the surface of the bead. 
Felted bead, before and after repair

To repair irregularities, pull out a few wisps from the wool top and wrap them around the outside.  Submerge in the soapy water, lift out, and begin rotating the bead between your palms until the new layer has felted over the original bead.

Rolling the bead on the bamboo mat helps to harden the felted surface

When you are happy with the shape and size of the bead, rinse it in hot water and roll it for about 30 seconds onto a dish cloth or, as in this case, onto a bamboo felting mat. This will help to compact the ball and harden the surface.  Leave the beads to dry out before threading with a needle and stringing them together.

Merino wool tops and felting tools, such as the bamboo mat, can be ordered from the Felt Making section at http://www.georgeweil.com/.


2 comments:

Crafty Chris said...

I love making these if they have a split I can never get a new piece to adhere to the original.
Chris x

George Weil said...

Hi Chris, it does take a bit of effort to get the new layer of fibres to attach but as you know, lots of elbow grease, hot water and soap will help. Rolling the beads on the bamboo mat was very effective for hardening the outside of the bead. Kind regards Allison