Time to Come Clean

March 7th, 2011 § 11 comments

Soap at sinkTime to come clean.  And nothing does the trick better than a handmade soap bar wrapped in softly spun and felted natural wool.  Upon completion of this practical project, you will have a novel and crafty washcloth/soap combo guaranteed to tempt even the most stubborn grimy kid into a tub.  In fact, you and your crafty little team will be inclined to make oodles of these for deserving friends, dedicated teachers, or for yourself—yes, even you are entitled to a complete body exfoliation with relaxing aromatic organically-derived essential oils and spicy touch-of-citrus scent to draw out impurities, replace minerals, improve circulation, and ahhh!  getting carried away….

Point being, you might consider keeping one for yourself.

For this project, you will need the following: cheese grater, bowl of hot water, old stocking (tights/pantyhose), wool roving (carded wool), soap scraps (if you are in a hurry, simply use a solid soap bar), and hands willing to get wet and sudsy.  As mentioned in previous projects, wool roving may be purchased online from Halcyon Yarn—check out their “Babooshka Soup”—a random mix of remnant wool batts and pencil roving.  If you plan to use a solid soap bar, a good quality medium-milled round/oval soap bar is ideal for the job.  Too hard (like French milled soap), and it will not lather.  Too soft, and it will be squashy.  Too rectangular, and it will have weak points in the felting.  I mostly use soaps made with lavender or lemongrass oils, but recently I felted a soap made by my friend Jen Kovach labeled “Oatmeal Cookie.”  Yum.  Jen makes a well-air-cured goat milk soap that is just perfect for felting.  I have found that goat milk soaps are the best—easy to felt, fragrant, long-lasting, natural—but I’m not picky.  I’ll felt just about anything.

Grating soapBefore starting, remind everyone that soap can sting eyes and that it smells yummy but tastes horrible.  Yuck! If you plan to use soap scraps, or you plan to smooth the edges of a rectangular bar, shred the soap with a cheese grater.  Collect the shavings in your hand and press together, forming a ball, oval, or organicy rock-like shape.

Tightly wrap thin, even layers of wool roving around the soap until all surfaces are covered. Criss-cross three layers of wool (as in the Felted Wool Ball project) so that the fibers will lock together during the felting process.  Different colors of wool may be used to create different patterns.  I’m partial to bright, vivid colors for this one—luminous greens and blues, shameless oranges and reds—although, somber grays can make powerful stone soap.  Beware of browns—nothing worse than washing with something damp, mudlike and wooly.  I often add a narrow piece of thin (pencil) roving or wool yarn to create a natural sediment strip in the stone and to hold it tightly.  Alternatively, a design can be needle felted with contrasting colors (see previous post on Dry Felting).

Felting soap 2Carefully place your wooly bar into the toe of your old stocking. Tie the stocking, cutting away extra fabric.  Dip your stockinged wooly soap into the bowl of hot water until it is thoroughly soaked.  Gently roll it between your hands to build lather.  Continue to agitate the wool fibers, re-wetting and squeezing and lathering the soap.  Pay attention to the tiny sides of the soap—they need attention too.

Felting soap 2When the fibers become entangled and the wool becomes firmer, roll and press harder.  If you have a washboard or a bubble wrap sheet, rub all sides of the wooly soap on this.  When is it done?  When the wool is completely felted, it should form a semi-snug casing around the soap.  The entire process should take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Felting soap 3Carefully remove your wooly soap from the stocking and run it under very hot tap water and then very cold tap water.

Felting soap 4Place it on a cookie rack or folded towel to absorb excess water.  Dry for a day or two.


Kids love this project.  It’s messy, requires little elbow grease, and is somewhat magical.  To increase the soap’s lifespan, rinse it quickly under tap water and allow it to dry thoroughly between uses.

Drying felted soapAs the soap dissolves, the wool will shrink slightly.  When the soap is no longer, dry the pouf.  Make a small incision and use as a funky fragrant coin purse, cat toy, ornament, finger puppet, or herb-filled sachet for your prized collection of unmentionables.

 

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§ 11 Responses to Time to Come Clean"

  • Great article about felted soap. I have done this project many times with children but have never used the sock. Very clever and will most likely assure a successful outcome. I have discovered that children in particular tend to go at the felting too quickly and get those hanging felt pieces on the outside that never felt into the whole. Great idea! I will surely try this next time I do this project with kids.

  • Marcie says:

    Diana, so glad you found the post helpful. I have found that sheer tights work best–helps the soap slip through your hands easily and keeps the project visible. Congratulations on your new business venture. Craftology looks fantastic. So sad Sacramento is ~3,000 miles away!

  • Lisa J. says:

    Just visiting from homepodge. Do you lose much soap when you’re felting?

    Lisa

  • Marcie says:

    Lisa, that can happen, particularly with a very soft soap. You always have the option to stop lathering/felting a bit early. In fact, some prefer a wooly/loose finish over a smooth finish. If you stop the process early, that’s fine, since the wool will continue to felt and get smooth/firm when you wash with the soap later on. Thanks for checking in!

  • Marisa says:

    The light in these photos is amazing! You are multi-talented. ;)

    • Marcie says:

      Thanks, Marisa. I just checked out your blog–a pro at cooking, sewing, AND tricky indoor photo shoots (the tiramisu! whoa!)–I’ll keep checking in to get inspired….

  • […] had no idea that soap could be felted, or that felted soap could be so beautiful! This felted soap tutorial from Mossy makes washing your hands look more like art, and the wool can even be repurposed and […]

  • Lynda says:

    Just pinned your tut! We make our own soap and I’ve just bought some roving so I just need to do this. Thanks so much for the easy to understand tut. Lynda

  • Maggie says:

    I’ve made four of these soaps today! So nifty!

  • Pam says:

    I’m new to felting and want to try this…what level would you consider this…beginner or more advanced…

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