Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Making Felt Balls and Beads With Children

The process of turning wool roving (cleaned, carded, but unspun wool), into felt balls, or beads is not very complicated, just time consuming, and a little messy. However, most of the mess comes from soap suds - so by the time your done, you already have a head start on the cleanup. We are a long way from experts on this process (in fact we're complete beginners), but this is one of those projects you can pretty well count on success for right from your first try.

First, take a small amount of fiber from your roving (it just pulls apart like cotton candy).

Roll it into a ball in the same way you would roll up a ball of yarn. It does not need to be a perfect ball at this point, just all rolled together. You want it to be slightly larger than the end result your aiming for.

Add a drop of dish soap, and some warm water, and roll the ball in your hand, like you would a ball of playdough. It will look discouraging at first, like it's not going to hold together, but keep rolling! After a while, the fibers of the wool become intertwined, and your ball takes shape and holds. At this point you can squish it, and roll it into the shape you want for your bead.

Rinse the ball off with cold water, to remove the soap. Leave it to dry.

The steps for larger balls are just the same, except you use more wool. My five year old loved the process of felting the ball. Just watch out, the wool gets very slippery once you add the soap, it's easy to send the sudsy ball careening across the kitchen.

Once the beads are dry, you can string them onto a thread or fishing line with a needle. The end result is a one of a kind piece of jewelry. Making the beads is a bit labor intensive, larger balls are definitely more fun, and if you make three of them, you can take up juggling when your done.

It's great to be a homeschooler!

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