I couldn’t finish out the year on a round up post (my last post was 10 Creative Christmas Ideas) so I decided to go mega process art and share some wet felting for kids. I know for some this will be way outside of your comfort zone. I get it. What the heck is wet felting anyway? This process is a little advanced as far as you probably don’t have any wool roving laying around the house, but you can order it on Amazon and there are tons of wet felting tutorials on youtube to walk you through every step of this super cool process. So, when you are ready and want to do something really special with your kids, here are some ideas.
I first discovered wet felting about 5 or 6 years ago when I stumbled upon felt balls and was determined to try them. I did and fell in love. I posted about them when I first started blogging and even showed my husband getting in on the action, but unfortunately the post seems to have disappeared into the world wide web abyss. Soon after, I came upon this tutorial on how to make felt flowers and I was hooked. I did this with an art class once years ago and it was a huge success. My wool roving has been sitting in a jar though for about 5 years and I’m so happy to get it going again. The whole process of wet felting is very 70’s and hands on. I just love the something from nothing quality of this process. There are many ways to do wet felting actually. I’ve watched a bunch of youtubes and here is what we came up with.
You will need…
wool roving (it’s pretty inexpensive, lasts forever and is available on Prime, just sayin’)
a cookie sheet or tray with a lip
a tub for water
a rolling pin (this one says it was 104 dollars and is now marked down to 6 dollars. hmm.)
Spread out a long piece of bubble wrap with the bubble side up. You’re going to work on one half of the bubble wrap so you can fold the other side over your wet felt when it’s time. Gently lay small bits of roving going vertically and then horizontally. There is no particular size this needs to be but maybe start smallish, around 8×5 or so.
After you have your first layer of roving down, you are going to place more bits going horizontally. You want to have at least three layers alternating between horizontal and vertical. My girls are 3 and 4 and were very pumped to get this party started. Aka, we missed the third layer. In this case, don’t copy us. Do the third layer. It will make your felt way stronger and more secure.
Once you have your three layers, spray your roving with water mixed with a little dish soap. Make sure you get it all saturated. Oh yeah, another thing we missed. You probably want to do this in a cookie tray so the water doesn’t leak onto your surface. Yeah, this got a little wet for us.
Next, roll over your soapy felt in all different directions over and over again. The more you roll the more the fibers in your wool are going to adhere to each other. It’s really cool actually. When you peek under the bubble wrap after you’ve been rolling a while, you can see it all starting to come together. Do this for a full minute or longer.
Next you’re going to shock your fibers. Once you’ve rolled and rolled and rolled in all different directions under the bubble wrap you need to shock your fibers into really sticking together. Get a hot tub of water, as hot as you can stand, and place your wet felt into the water. Let it sit for a second or two and then you’re going to gently fold it and squeeze the water out. Lay the damp felt back onto your bubble wrap. You’re going to repeat this process 3 or four times.
You may notice in the pics the addition of the more typical felt shapes you can get at the craft store. We read in this post about wet felting with kids that you can add them in and they will adhere to the roving using the same process. Some definitely did after we sprayed and rolled and shocked, but others fell off. I think the reason was because we should have added some of the roving in bits and pieces on top of the felt shapes as well so it could all sort of bind together. Regardless, it was a fun addition and I was able to tack on any pieces that fell off with a needle and thread. You could also fix it with tacky glue.
You can see my little one’s roving above really looks well felted under those circles. She did the most layers of roving and also rolled the most with the rolling pin. In the pic below you see my four year olds work. She was more into the picture making and not so into the layering or the rolling. I would say this project is ideal for 6 and up. I made wet felted flowers with 6 year olds and they loooooved it, plus they were developmentally ready to handle all the steps pretty independently.
After you are done with your back and forth felting process and your fibers are secure, you are going to put them in one of those little netted undergarments bag in your dryer for 15 minutes or so. The felt will get all jostled around and secure everything that much more.
Now that you have these pretty felted works of art, what the heck can you do with them? Well, one easy step is to glue or tack them down to a larger piece of felt from the craft store. You might be done right there and just hang them up or place in a frame. Another idea is to glue them down to burlap and hang like you see in this lovely post. Upon the suggestion of Kate from Nearly Crafty my little one requested hers be made into a pillow (check out these great felted pillows her kids made) and my oldest wanted hers to be made into a purse.
You can see how I tacked the felt shapes down and then everything down to the pink felt rectangle. If you are interested in making yours into a pillow I’ve included a pic of my horrendous sewing so you can see that you don’t have to be fancy to do this. I went straight up 7th grade home ec style and it worked out fine. I just cut the purple felt to the same shape as the pink. Turned the felting inward, sewed all around leaving a small space for batting. Turned the piece outside in and stuffed with batting. Sewed up the last remaining bit.
And here she is!!! My little love and her pillow, which she says looks like a cast. My girls watch kids getting getting casts videos all the time on youtube. Is that strange? They love them. She was so happy when her pillow looked like a cast. We’re weird.
My kids are way into purses and bags of all kinds. This one is currently carrying her sunglasses, a few Magic Clips (the best gift we’ve ever received. No joke my girls play with these non stop.) and a few beads, gems and strings in various sizes. Your basic 4 year old grab bag situation.
So, what do you think of wet felting with kids? No way? Just right? Maybe?? I would love to hear your thoughts. Also, here are a few things I forgot to mention above as far as trouble shooting is concerned. Just in case you decide to give this great process a try.
1. It’s a good idea to keep going in with your soapy water and spray all the areas you may have missed of the roving.
2. Don’t forget to squeeze out the excess water after you shock your fibers.
3. If it all falls apart, remember, Enjoy the Process : )
I haven’t sat down and crafted in what feels like a really long time. I’ve made things for my art classes and experimented, but not really crafted just for fun. The last project I can remember making is this fabric resist pillow for Father’s Day. I loved making these gifts for my girls. They came home so excited and they’ve been enjoying them ever since.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year! Happy 2016!!! xo Meri