These step-by-step directions include a lot of pictures, so please be patient while they download. The pictures were taken about a minute apart, so the whole process only takes about 15 – 20 minutes from start to finish. The “hands” in the photos belong to Amy, and the words are Andrea’s.
First of all, gather the materials you will need together in one place: a bar of soap, carded wool, a towel and a dish of hot water. We also got the dish soap out, out of habit, but you don’t need it when you are felting onto a bar of soap. An optional item is a felting mat or wash board. It’s nice to have, but you don’t NEED it to felt over a bar of soap.
Now, you will want to wrap wool around the bar of soap.
Wrap the wool around it both length-wise and width-wise, so all the surfaces are covered.
You can add additional colors of wool for decoration.
Now, start to wet the bar of soap, by dribbling the hot water on it. You don’t want to put a lot of water on it all at once (or dunk it in the water) at this point, or the wool will slide off.
Continue to dribble water on it, and pat it, to make sure the wool is getting wet all the way through.
When the wool is pretty wet, you can start to squeeze it, continuing to dribble water on it periodically.
The wool will start to make a wrinkly skin around the bar of soap.
Keep squeezing it, shifting it around in your hands as you do so. It will start to lather up.
Add more water every so often to keep your hands “lubricated” .
It is starting to felt and lose the wrinkles now.
Your can rub your hands over the surface of the bar now, and the wool won’t slip off. It is also making a lot of soap suds!
This is a good time to start rubbing it on the felting board or wash board if you have one. Otherwise, just continue to rub it and squeeze it in your hands. Rub back and forth, and in circular motions.
Make sure you rub all the sides!
Flipping and turning it in your hands is a good way to felt the sides.
You can see that it is REALLY lathering now. Keep rubbing it…
. . . on all sides.
Dunk it in the dish of water to see if it has felted down to make a fairly snug casing around the bar of soap. If it seems a little fluffy, yet, rub it some more.
When it is snug around the bar of soap, run it under cold water, to tighten up the wool, and to rinse off more of the suds.
Gently squeeze out the excess water. A few suds will creep back out. Don’t worry about them.
Pat dry on a towel.
There you have it! Your own “felted” bar of soap to use in the bath or shower! It’s so fun, you’ll want to do more than one! Felt on! — Andrea and Amy
Since posting these directions, we’ve had a lot of questions about felted soap. To answer some of the more frequent ones:
Wet felting only works with wool or other protein fibers (such as llama or angora). Some protein fibers, and some wools, felt better than others.
The fiber we used is NZ Corriedale Roving. We figure two ounces can easily do four normal sized bars of soap.
The plastic felting mat is available for sale as well, and can be found on our Felting Tools Page.