Felting Soap with Guest Artist Leonor Calaca

Our guest artist today is Leonor Calaca from Felt Buddies shares her method for making felted soaps.  You can see more of her work at http://www.FeltBuddies.co.uk

Hello! Today I’ll teach you how to make your very own felted soap.

Before we start however, I’m sure a few of you are wondering, “What on earth is a felted soap?” Good question! Allow me to explain.

A felted soap is, as the name might reveal, a bar of soap that’s surrounded by felted wool. This means you’re basically getting a bar of soap and a washcloth in one product, making the former last longer, while using the latter as an exfoliating agent.

The wool around the soap also makes the soap last longer, and when the inside is all used up you can use the wool as compost material, or keep it as a decorative pebble.

Christmas is fast approaching, and this would make a great gift – it smells nice and it’s useful, what’s not to love? I actually sold out last holiday season!

Let’s get started, shall we?

1

First, you’ll need the following ingredients: warm soapy water in a clean container, a nice bar of soap with round corners (sharp corners may break through the wool), enough wool to cover the soap with, and some bubble wrap for friction.

A couple of good extra items are a felting needle (I’ll explain why in a moment), and a pair of kitchen gloves.

2

Begin by carefully wrapping the fibre around the soap. I used a lovely wool top with silk tweed here, but you can use roving or a batt – just make sure you’re using enough to cover the soap, but not so much so that it makes lathering hard!

You’ll need to wrap the fibre in two opposite directions. I like to start by wrapping it horizontally and then vertically because I think the end result looks nicer, but you can do it whichever way you prefer – just as long as you have two opposite layers.

3

Remember the felting needle I mentioned before? Here is where it can comes in handy: I like to needle felt the ends to make sure nothing comes apart when I’m wet felting. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but I find it keeps things neat.

4

Once your soap is all wrapped up, it’s time to dunk it in warm water.  I highly recommend you go slowly at this stage, as the fibre might fall off the soap or migrate if you haven’t secured it with a felting needle. Squeeze all the air bubbles out carefully in the water and, once you take the soap out of the water, gently squeeze out all the excess liquid and start rubbing the top layer lightly so the fibres start clinging to each other.

5

Once the fibre is secured, it’s time to help it shrink around the soap. I had a bubble wrap pouch from a mailing bag that I used to help create friction, but regular bubble wrap will work just fine.

Rub the bubble wrap against the soap, checking regularly if your fibre isn’t migrating, you don’t want to end up with bare patches (you can needle felt some extra fibre on those at this stage, and continue wet felting).

6

Once the fibres start contracting around the soap, you can use your bare hands to continue the felting process.  I like to create friction on the ridges of my sink; I sometimes also wear kitchen gloves because the rubber also helps, and I like to alternate hot and cold tap water so the fibre shrinks around the soap faster.

7

Once the fibre feels compact around the soap, you’re done!

Carefully rise out the lather under the tap, gently squeeze the soap and let it dry; after that, you can add some kraft paper around the soap to make a “belt,” or you can just place it inside an organza bag.

8

Don’t be surprised if, after gifting this to friends, they come back for more! You can always direct them to this tutorial so they can make their own…

Feel free to ask me questions about this in the comments section. Happy felting!

Thanks Leonor for sharing your method of felting soap.  I have a feeling a lot of people will be getting soap for the holidays.

 

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22 Responses to Felting Soap with Guest Artist Leonor Calaca

  1. Lyn says:

    Your felted soap is as lovely as your tutorial. And you’re right about felted soaps making lovely gifts or items to sell – especially if they are lightly scented.

  2. ruthlane says:

    Great tutorial Leonor. I always stick mine into the end of a pantyhose or stocking, tie it up and then rub. Then I can make more than one at a time. The one I made for me has lasted a really long time but still works great.

    • Leonor says:

      Thanks, Ruth! I’m terrible with pantyhose for some reason, I always end up with either heavily migrated fibres, or they’re too stuck to the hose that I have trouble removing the object from them! I guess needle felting is my forte, not wet felting 😀

    • ruthlane says:

      We all find what works best for us. And you do have to pay attention to the fibers migrating through the pantyhose for sure.

  3. meterrilee says:

    Nice tutorial, thank you! I have never made one, but have often thought about it. With the holidays approaching and being that I have to mail almost all of my gift recipients’ gifts, this is a great idea.

    • Leonor says:

      Glad you liked it! It’s a very easy thing to create, and makes for a nice and unusual present (and who doesn’t like handmade presents?) 🙂

  4. zedster66 says:

    I need to make some more, so I might try your method, Leonor. I’ve never got great results, no matter how carefully I do it, though using Lyn’s tutorial last year made a big improvement. I love the wool you used, and you got a really nice finish and shape 🙂 thanks

    • Leonor says:

      Let me know how it goes, Zed! I also wasn’t too successful on my first attempts, hence the “don’t add too much fibre” suggestion on the tutorial 😀
      I love that wool too, it just makes everything look more “natural,” doesn’t it? I mean, I’m fond of the colourful felted soaps too, but this just resonates with me better.

  5. Your tutorial shows a slightly different method than many other folks use. I like the idea of securing the ends with a felting needle. Years ago when I started wet felting, I tried felted soap and found that my lovely scented soap was half gone by the time I finished felting it. Should really give this one another try!

    • Leonor says:

      I guess we’ll all have different ways of doing things, right? 🙂

      Hah, yes, I often hear how people have trouble stopping when felting soaps! 😀 “Have an extra soap to use as a size guide” might be a good suggestion 😀

  6. Karen Lane says:

    Nice tutorial Leonor. I recently made some but I found my success differed depending on which soap I used. Pears worked great but Dove produced far too much lather and didn’t felt very well so I ended up keeping those for myself.

    • Leonor says:

      Thanks, Karen! Glad you found it useful.

      It’s interesting what you say about the soap – if you don’t mind my suggestion, maybe what you needed was to run the soap through the tap once in a while when it lathered too much. The soap I used for this tutorial lathers up a great deal and I found it felted the same way as my other ones did (they were made from different ingredients, too). I hope this helps 🙂

    • Karen Lane says:

      Thanks for tip Leonor, I still have some of the Dove soap so will give it another go!

  7. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Thanks again Leonor for sharing your method. I will have to try the needle felting since most every time I do it the ends seem to want to escape. 🙂

  8. Nice tutorial. I use pantyhose like Ruth but I make up, maybe, 30 at a time and do them in front of the TV. If all you can find is square soap you can use a vegetable peeler to take the sharp edges off. What is silk tweed?

    • tuckamoor says:

      Great tutorial! And you are right, it’s a great, useful, unique gift, and Eco friendly! I love the look of the wool you used. I always sell out of felted soap at craft markets. I now felt mine in the dryer, which it such a time saver, plus it is perfectly consistent.

    • doesn’t putting them in the dryer make a lot of noise? or are you wrapping them in something?

    • tuckamoor says:

      They each get soaked in hot water and then put individually into a small freezer zip lock bag. Then all the little baggies go into a small pillow case or fabric bag of some sort that is tied shut. That goes into the dryer with a load of towels. It sounds about the same as drying sneakers and it only takes 10 minutes.

  9. Pingback: Felting soap and a Hat Class | feltingandfiberstudio

  10. Leonor says:

    Ann, not sure you’ll read this, but here goes: tweed is the little lumps you see in certain fibres, which gives said fibres some texture. In my case, it was silk (the coloured bits you see in the wool), but it can be cotton or wool. Tweed is very popular here in the UK. I hope that helps 🙂

  11. Leonor says:

    Tuckamoor, your idea sounds great! I’ll have to try that method, it’s very likely a major time-saver! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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