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Felting Soap with Guest Artist Leonor Calaca

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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