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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
Felted Soap
fun with wool roving

Yesterday, I visited my friend Bethany Adams. In addition to being a talented beadmaker and fuser, she also knits and felts. She treated me to a lovely day of felting tutorials, something that's been on my list of things to do forever, but which I just hadn't gotten around to doing (usually because I couldn't bring myself to spend the money on a class. Yes, I'm cheap.)

This is a pretty easy project to do, and would probably be great for teen girls who are all obsessed with makeup, or even just dealing with the inevitability of puberty, i.e. acne, since the felted surface acts as a gentle defoliant. We used a glycerin soap for this little sylvus-tutorial, and it felt wonderful even on my dry hands.

felted soap, finished 15jan08. Wool roving, soap. 3-1/2"x2-1/4"x1-3/4"

Basically, you wrap a wide piece of roving lenghwise around the soap; Bethany recommends needlefelting it lightly in place (without pricking the soap); then spiral another piece of roving crosswise; needlefelt lightly. Then use a piece of stocking (with the toe still on) to wrap the soap and roving tightly, and rubber band stocking in place.

Then dampen the roving thoroughly (but do not soak!) by dipping in water as hot as you can stand, and start squeezing to felt the wool. After a while you can remove the stocking and rubber bands. If you use multicolored roving, you get pretty patterns, as shown here. The felt should be fairly tight to the soap, though it shrinks a bit as it dries. As you can see, my wool is rather unevenly applied, leading to lumps.

Finally, when using your soap be sure to let it dry thoroughly between showers, or it will mold. If you're not familiar with felting, and my instructions seem a bit sketchy, well, google's your friend; but it really is one of those things that's as easy as it sounds, except possibly for the squeezing part—but doesn't that sound like much more fun that those hand-grip exercisers they sell in the weightlifting department of your local sporting goods store?

file created 16jan08; photography 16jan08; soap made 15jan08.