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It’s Never Felt Like This!

There’s a new project on the work bench: water felting a surprise ball. I’ve worked with felted projects before, but never one like this! The trick is to felt an object with a cavity inside (where I can tuck in a surprise). Normally when I felt an object, it’s more like sculpting with wool: it’s an additive process that allows you to shape the object as you go, felting it with needles into the dimensions you desire. With this water process, I’m basically felting around a balloon shape, so the object I end up with is very dependent on the shape of the balloon.


To begin, I layered strips of wool roving in a wheel pattern. My intended final object is a pear, in honor of my mother. I want a variation of color, so I layered an outer area with two different shades of green and some yellow on the inside.

The next step was to spray the roving with warm, soapy water. Blowing the balloon into my desired shape (or as close as I could get it) I then placed the balloon into the center of the roving and sprayed it with warm, soapy water. I then shaped the wool roving around the balloon, then when it was stuck in place, I covered the object with a nylon stocking.

Spraying it a few more times to make sure it was good and wet, I began felting it by applying friction to the wet wool by rubbing it over bubble wrap laid over a towel. This whole process is described very well in the book “Wool Toys and Friends” by Laurie Sharp, 2010.

After lots of rubbing and turning of my object, I finally reached the point where my roving was felted enough to hold together without the outer layer of the stocking. However when I removed the stocking, I discovered that the roving had bunched up during the felting process and left the bottom of my pear without any roving.

My first mistake was using a balloon in a dark color. Had I used a white balloon, I may have been able to see the white balloon show through the green roving as it shifted during the felting process. I also made the mistake of placing stripes of variegated color in the exterior layer of roving instead of dots of variegated color. The strips make it look more like a melon: dots would allow it to read more like a pear.

So as you can see, this first try did not lead to a product ready to sell, but it was a success in other ways! It gave me experience in the process of wet felting, an understanding of what to try differently next time, a burning curiosity to see if I can actually make it work, but most importantly it entertained my mom. My mom has spent her life as an artist, expressing her creativity in a myriad of ways, whether by paint, thread, frosting or flowers. Stuck in a hospital bed, she’s unable to take even a step on her own, so this was a fun way to remind both of us that it’s never too late to express yourself, and that we all need ways to step away from our worries, even if you can’t use your feet to do so.


Featured Image by Johnstons of Elgin on Unsplash