Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Festive Felted Soaps For Giving- A Tutorial


Laying out supplies: art batts, bar soap, and felting equipment.


Swathing each soap in roving from an art batt...


...then wrapping each with a messy spiral of pencil roving...



...(choosing different color combinations for each recipient).


The finished soaps...


...drying on paper towels or parchment paper.


Et voila...the completed set!! :)


While searching for large, nicely shaped, individual bars of soap for this project...

...I was delighted to find a brand of soap that I used as a teenager!!

I didn't even know that "Yardley of London" still existed...

...but as I inhaled scents like English Lavender, Lemon Verbena and Oatmeal-Almond...

...I was instantly transported back to the 70's!! :)

If you haven't ever tried making felted soaps, you should...

...as it is a rather straightforward project yielding lovely results...

...although not entirely without its challenges. :)

To begin: Wrap a bar of soap with wool roving or part of a wool batt...

...placing one fat and fluffy layer around the soap width-wise...

...and another around the soap from end to end (making sure to cover the entire soap surface).

It's important to get enough fiber on your soap to provide a thick and cushiony 'skin' after felting...

...so 'if in doubt', add another layer!

Using any kind of pencil roving or wool yarn...

...wrap the whole shebang in a casual spiral-ish design.

(Besides being just plain pretty...

...this will help to hold the wool in place as you work!)

Now comes the only tricky bit:

Holding the soap firmly in one hand...

...carefully dribble hot water on it, turning (and gently squeezing it) as you go.

If you don't go slowly and hold the wool firmly in place at this stage...

...or if you rush to dip it in water or rub it on bubble wrap...

...you may find (to your dismay) that the wool 'coat' slides right off!

Once the coating feels like it's starting to stick together...

...you can roll it up in a sheet of bubble wrap and gently roll it around on the table for awhile...

...making sure to change the position of the soap regularly and to watch for signs of  'slippage'.

As you work, you will feel the wool layers starting to shrink and felt...

...and each time it cools off, you should dip it in hot water...

...holding the soap firmly as you do.

Once it seems to be 'all of a piece'...

...gently rub it on the bubble wrap, turning it to reach each part of the soap as you go...

...or, using cupped, bare hands, you can work it like you're making a meatball! :)

After some time, the wool will felt to a thin, even layer over the entire surface of the soap...

...at which point you should rinse it quickly in cold water, squeeze out the excess water and let it dry.

19 comments:

Patty Biermans said...

Yes, I remember the Yardley soap! Specially the lavender scent! Takes me back too! Back in 1968 (16 years old) I was working in a drugstore where they sold the soap. OOhhh, the loveley memories :)) hugzz...peebee

vilterietje said...

wooooooh! lovely soaps and if you don't use them as soap you can always hide them in april as easter eggs:)

Viltalakim said...

I always do this with kids so fun and easy to do :)

Pumpkin said...

I had no idea that making felted soaps was so easy. I have to say that these are among some of the most attractive examples I have every seen. They will make wonderful gifts!

Fiona said...

Great tutorial. Many thanks. I've been meaning to give this a go for ages. Now I've no excuse!

Lois said...

Sweet! They remind me of the Ukrainian Easter Eggs I make with my two every spring!

Heather Woollove said...

Peebee--Thanks for sharing YOUR soap story!! :)
Riet--They are kind of bright, aren't they?!?
Kim--You are officially the 'Soap Queen' after your Christmas order of hundreds!!
Pumpkin--Thanks!
Fiona--Yes...absolutely. You can also decorate them with pre-felt shapes, etc. if you want to get really fancy!
Lois--Thanks! Yes...we tried making eggs like that a couple of times (with mixed success!) You can see a couple of ours in this post: http://woollove-functional-fiberart.blogspot.com/2010/07/egg-cozies.html

Kathryn Ray said...

This is so funny... I was given a bar of Yardley Oatmeal-Almond in my Christmas stocking last week. :-)

Terrie said...

These refresh my idea to have a go. Love the felted soap. Beautiful color and good for massage. Thanks also for the advice of changing sewing needle. Big Hug.

narkeymarkey said...

i didn't realise you could still buy yardley or that it would be available in the US?! isn't it amazing how a scent can evoke such a strong memory?

thanks for the tutorial, i must try this some day.

love the colour mixes you have used :)x

Heather Woollove said...

Kathryn-Synchronicity, baby! :)
Terie--I like using soaps like these, too. I'm so glad that the new needle idea is working out for you! XXO--
Tracey--Yes...I think it's something primal-the way we respond to scents from our childhood or from happy (or traumatic) memories. Picking the colors was fun, since I had certain individuals in mind...even men...hence the grey/white one, etc.

Rachel said...

These look like great fun to do - what are they like to use?

Heather Woollove said...

Rachel--They are kind of like an exfoliating loofah! It's fun when the soap gets used up over time and the case slowly collapses. Even the empty wool case can be re-purposed for use as a 'dish scrubber'! :)

Melissa Plank said...

I love Yardleys English Lavender, that's what we use to this day. The felted soaps look so cool!

Heather Woollove said...

Melissa--It's interesting how many fiber people love this soap!?! I'm glad you like them. :)

Jenn said...

I like the shape of the Yardley soaps. I have a stack of soap in my closet that I bought for just this purpose. Your post is inspiring me!

Heather Woollove said...

Jenn--I know...the shape and 'heft' drew me to those soaps as much as the retro scents!! With the beautiful skill you have at crochet, I think you should make some little freeform pieces in wool yarn and add them to the top of the roving layer before felting. They would look smashing!!!

Sandie Knapp said...

My friend Wendy made one of these for me a couple years back. She tried to teach me how it was done too, but I was such a poor student. You made some really lovely felted soaps. :)

Heather Woollove said...

Thanks, Sandie! I think you have to be in the right mood to make them, since they require a bit of time. :)