Monday, June 18, 2007

Felted Soap

Back to the reason why I bought that wool roving a few weeks back. Felted Soap. What and why felted soap? Well, felted soap is like soap that is wrapped up in it's own little sponge or cloth. The soap lasts longer and when it does eventually get used up, you'll be left with a cute dainty little felted pouch which you could then recycle into something creative (or fill it with catnip and give it to the puss!)

BTW, check out Arleta's blog. She makes Soap Socks which are like little wooly sacks with soap in them. They are sent out unfelted and as you wash wash wash, the wool eventually shrinks around the soap. Fun!

We used Merino Wool rovings but I guess any felting wool will work. Also, save the nicest colours for the top layer - I wouldn't mind getting a bag of undyed unspun wool or roving to use as the base layers and then put the nice colours on top.

You can make it as decorative or plain as you fancy. Little Miss CB has said that she can't wait to wash her hands with this soap as it looks 'dead cool'. Even if it's just for the kids, it's worth a try. It's relatively inexpensive, and a nice clean activity. We felted a bar in the bath last night and Little Miss CB got clean in the process!!! Lol.

I believe, but haven't tried it yet, that you could add some grains (or whatever) etc.. if you fancy an exfoliating scrub.

There's a few different ways to do it but I read that it is recommended you use round or oval soap when starting as the corners on square or rectangle bars tend to poke through the felt. We bought a big multi pack of 'Simple Soap' from the supermarket and cut one bar in half, rounding off the edges and corners with a sharp knife.

Next we covered the bar with a length of wool roving, wrapping it around the bar in one direction (left to right) and then the opposite way (top to bottom). However many layers you use, make sure the fibres overlap.

Holding the wool wrapped soap in your hand, use your other hand to scoop up some warm-to-hot water and gently dribble it over the soap.**

Then drizzle on some dish soap and rub the soap in your hands; round and round and round and round and round......

** You can also make up a soapy water solution with warm water in the basin and have another basin or pot standing by with cold water in it. Today's effort was made using some shavings of olive soap soaked in hot water til it dissolved. But I guess you can use soap flakes???

Keep an eye on the soap edges and make sure you have covered them well at the start. Once the wool gets wet and sticks to itself it's impossible to cover the gap by 'pulling' the wool over it. You'll simply have to add more wool to the bar to cover any gaps.

Now you can be a bit rougher with the soap and roll or roatate it in your hands making sure you rub the entire surface.

Alternatively, you can rub your bar against a piece of bubblewrap to speed up the felting process. (no fancy equipment in our house!)

From time to time, squeeze the bar to remove any excess water and check how the wool is looking.

If the wool feels like a tight fit around the soap and isn't baggy, rinse gently in warm water and then dunk it into cold water to shock the fibres further. You can then just pat it dry with a towel or some kitchen paper and leave to dry on a cooling rack.

When the bar is dry you can needle felt a design onto it. I needle felted some wool scraps around the roving and wet felted them slightly. Although you've got to wait until the bar of soap is dry before needle felting or your needles will break!!! You've been warned!!!

PS, once again, apologies for the awful piccies. Web cam in operation, normal digital camera with The Man in Spain!

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