So, I’ve been wanting to try making these ever since my last post, and when a couple of people (okay, really just my mom) asked me how to make them, I thought I’d give them a try while simultaneously creating my first tutorial (also something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile).
First things first, you need to get your supplies together. I covered my dining room table with newspapers just in case there was some water spillage. And there was lots of water spillage, by the way. Well, mostly it just dripped down my arms. Then I got the rest of the stuff together:
felting wool – make sure it’s “roving wool,” or wool specifically for felting. It should be brushed flat and rolled around a card or in a bundle. I got mine at A.C. Moore. They didn’t have it at Michael’s. At least, not that I could find.
hot soapy water – Martha Stewart suggests a mixture of six cups hot water and four tablespoons of soap. There is a tutorial up on Martha Stewart’s website here. I put the water in a bowl, heated it in the microwave and then added the soap and stirred it all together.
baking sheet – to catch all of the water and suds
paper towels – obvious reasons
cold water (not shown) – to dip the balls in once they have felted. I didn’t show it because I forgot all about it.
(optional) paper covered flower wire – to poke holes in the balls so they can be glued on to this wire later for the “flower” look. It didn’t work anyway, so just ignore this requirement.
(optional) coca-cola – can’t craft without it
(optional) laptop – with tutorial pulled up
Okay! Now that you’ve got all of that together, you’re ready to start. Like I said, there are two ways to do this, so I will present you with the options. But first, you have to stretch out and fluff your wool a little bit.
The next step is where things differ.
Option A: bunch a little bit of the wool up in a tight bundle.
Wrap the wool around this tight ball in a relatively tight manner. The finished product is going to be smaller than your beginning product. The tutorial I followed said that it would shrink to about half the original size, but I didn’t think it was quite half. (with this option) I think because you wrap the wool relatively tightly at the beginning, it has less chance of shrinking. So..you’re going to end up with a wool ball that has some thickness to it.
It’s going to take on a lot of water, and look a hot mess. Literally.
Now you begin shaping it. Switch it from hand to hand and roll it in to a ball. Like you would roll a ball of play-doh. Resist the urge to squeeze it as you’re rolling. Squeeze occasionally to remove excess water, but try not to squeeze it too much while you’re rolling it in your hands. When it begins to cool off, dip it in the water. Keep doing this. Here’s what I discovered. If you’re doing this step right, you’re going to get a big soapy mess, but I think that’s what is supposed to happen.
It took me until my fifth attempt to figure out what was supposed to happen while rolling these things. I got distracted watching tv, and I just kept rolling it around and I felt it start to get firm. That’s when I knew the ball had finally “felted.” Once it has felted, you can apply more pressure to the ball without it losing its shape. I discovered that applying pressure is actually helpful so that you can get it in to a smooth ball shape.
Next you dip it in some cold water to rinse it off and to sort of set the felted ball. You can do some final rolling around just to neaten everything up a little more. Dip it again if you want. Roll some more if you want. Whatever feels right to you.
At this point, you set the ball aside to dry. Or you poke holes in them for your specific purpose. I poked holes in them so that I could put them on sticks later. I had to do it with scissors, and poking the scissors in to the ball kind of messed the shape up, but then you just roll it some more. If you don’t have perfectly round balls, but you made bead like shapes to be used to make a necklace, you can stick a needle with some string on it through the bead so that it will dry with a hole through it to be strung later.
TA DA! FELTED BALLS!
Option B: I think I like this option better. But it might be because using this method is when I figured out what was supposed to happen. In this option, instead of creating a tight ball and wrapping the wool around it, you kind of just ball up the fluffy wool into a ball-like shape. Using this method will definitely result in more shrinkage of your felt ball. So make sure your fluff ball is bigger than what you want your end ball to be.
That’s really the only difference between the two options. The rest proceeds the same. Dip in water, and it turns in to a soapy mess.
Roll in between your hands.
Roll and roll and roll until the ball begins to harden. Roll until you know. It’s like when you stir something until it thickens. You don’t really know when to stop until you just know when to stop. Same thing. You’ll know.
Dip it in cold water, do some final neatening rolling, and you’re finished!
Felted balls! They really are bright and fun! I think I’ve said it about 8 times already, but I think I’m going to put them on sticks and then put them in a vase like was seen on a previous post.
I hope this tutorial was easy enough to follow. Once you figure out what you’re supposed to do, they’re really easy to make, and pretty fun! I had to stop because my hands were so water logged, but I would have liked to keep going. If you think this is something you want to try out, feel free to ask questions! Enjoy!