3 December 2013
by Jennifer Epperson
Hand felting is a wonderfully tactile tradition, as old as human textile production. It requires no experience to try and no equipment. Soap, water and your hands is all you need. The simplicity of this technique lends itself well to making with kids.
We've used roving wool from The Fibre Warehouse, America's oldest woolen mill, and Scarlet and Black Oak acorn caps harvested by hand in Northeast America.
You will need:
- Wool roving
- Bowl of warm water
- Bar or liquid soap, ideally made with a high olive oil content
- Acorn caps
- Hot glue gun
Project supplies ship with a copy of the instructions!
Pull off a handful of wool roving (about 1 ounce/25 grams). Begin pulling the wool into a straight piece, between 6 and 10 inches (15-25) long.
Take the piece of wool and tie into a fairly tight knot. The knot will be the center of your acorn. Then begin wrapping the fluffy pieces of wool around the knot until it forms a loose ball. It may appear to be several times larger than the finished size you want, but it will compress during the felting process.
Fill a bowl with warm water. Either add a few drops of liquid soap or lather hands with bar soap (we prefer a good soap made mainly of olive oil). Dip the fluffy wool ball into the water, fully saturating it.
Gently roll the ball between the palms of your soapy hands. The ball will compress and the fibers bind, creating a solid little ball. Be patient! At first it won't seem like the ball is taking shape. Keep rolling and if the ball becomes too soapy, run it under a stream of clean warm water and continue gently rolling.
Occasionally a crack or crevice may appear. If this happens, take a small piece of roving wool and wrap it around the ball. Dip in the soapy water again and continue rolling with your hands. Squeeze any excess water out with a paper towel and reshape your acorn with clean, dry hands.
For a more oval shaped acorn, roll the ball between your palms in one direction to elongate the ball. Set the acorn aside for about 12 hours, or until fully dry.
Place a very small amount of hot glue in the cap of the acorn and fit ball to cap. Hold your completed acorn together for a minute or so to fully dry. You can attach a ribbon to top of cap to hang. (No glue gun, don't worry. Use any strong fast-drying glue).