July 24, 2011

Felted Soap or Soap in a Sweater!

"Soap in a Sweater" - felted soap
Felting over soap is SO easy. I've read and watched several tutorials. I'm going to tell you how I do it. You can use any soap. I've even done it using hotel soaps. But usually I use my homemade soap (which I posted a recipe for at my kitchen blog), primarily because that's the main soap around my house, since I've been making and using my homemade soap for probably twenty years now. Since the last soap I made was heart-shaped, that's what this tutorial will show.

wrap wool tightly around the soap
add some color variety if you want
 Wrap wool tightly around the soap, covering it totally. If you leave it too loose, it'll take longer to tighten/shrink around the soap, and you can end up with some wool flaps that are impossible to adhere to the already felted soap. Once wool is felted it won't accept anymore wool layering, unless you needle felt it (I tried this, but wouldn't want to do it too much to make the soap start crumbling - I am going to try needlefelting a little design first in some wool before starting the wrapping process sometime). Looseness can be worked more - I've done it, even after it's totally dry and I want it tighter around the soap.

put the wool wrapped soap in a plastic bag
Now put the wool wrapped soap into a sandwich bag. Here is where I differ from other tutorials - they put the soap carefully into the toe of a nylon sock, usually knotting it. Wet felting with kids, as well as teaching felting in a setting where water accessibility and dripping water isn't easy, taught me to use plastic bags. And who wants to unknot something. I just put some hot water in the baggy, twist it tightly around the soap, and start rubbing all around the soap. Most wet felting has you using hot soapy water, but here you've already got the soap. It'll get quite sudsy, which would rinse out easily with a nylon sock, but I just pull the soap out and rinse it and the plastic bag, then put the soap back in if it needs more felting. When I had the Valentine Tea crafting party, we just left the bags by the greenhouse sink and people coming to that craft station reused the bags.

after adding some hot water twist the bag tight and rub all around the soap
rinse the felted soap and let it dry
Total time for the process? Only about 5-10 minutes! And you've got a unique, creative, functional work of art.
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