Once you’ve perfected the Felted Wool Ball and your design team is ready to rally, see if you have the technical adroitness to make something super crafty—The Felted Finger Puppet.
For this project, you will need bowl of hot, slightly soapy water, a bowl of cold soapless water, carded wool, scraps of 100% wool felt, a needle and thread, warm water and warm hands. As posted previously, carded wool (or “wool roving”) can be purchased at local farms, craft stores or online (e.g. Local Harvest, Etsy, Halcyon Yarn, or Peace Fleece). Peace Fleece offers a “Rainbow Felting Pack” that is perfect for this project.
As with the Felted Wool Ball, pull off a small length of wool and divide it into many thin longish strips.—multiple thin layers will produce the sturdiest felted material. Wrap one strip as you would wind a ball of string—in thin layers around your index finger making sure you cover the fingertip. Wrap the remaining wool strips around the first, adding layers until you can no longer feel your knuckle. The wool should be snug, but not too tight (about 1/8 in thick when pressed).
Dip your wooly finger into the bowl of hot, slightly soapy water. Remove your wooly finger from the water and gently press the wool with the fingertips of your other hand, squeezing gently. Continue to re-wet and squeeze the wool until you feel the fibers become entangled and you feel the fabric becoming firmer (you will notice this within a few minutes). When the fabric is very firm, submerge your wooly finger into the bowl of cold (soapless) water to set the fibers and rinse. Remove excess water by gently squeezing your wooly finger. Like the Felted Wool Ball project, if your hands are perpetually cold like mine, you will find this project somewhat challenging. Carefully remove the wool from your finger.
After air-drying the wool for several hours, you and your starry-eyed design team must envision the outcome— cow, wolf, librarian, martian—the brainstorming starts now. The puppets can be embellished with needle felting (e.g. bumblebee stripes, eyes, nostrils), cut wool sweaters (e.g. lion mane, dragon wings) and embroidery thread.
These little friends, as seductive as they are, often are central to my operation. With their cheerful banter, they lure my girls into unappealing household tasks such as eating veggies, washing dishes or brushing their teeth. These little friends are known to appreciate clean plates and good attitudes. As well, they provide teeny shoulders for us all to cry on after challenging days.
Wool felt is the earliest known form of fabric—therefore the process of felting has been around much longer than any of us—including supertalented felt artists Marjolen Dalinda, Renata Kraus, and Irena Rudman. Additional tutorials and inspiration for felting projects like the ones we have made here can easily be found on many blogs and craft sites like Wee Folk Art, Rhythm of the Home, Laura Lee Burch and Martha Stuart. For those in a hurry, finished products can be found on Chickadee Swing, and in many Waldorf catalogs.