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Thursday, 7 February 2013

How to make felt balls.

To make felt balls is very simple. Not much equipment is needed and they have lots of uses. Here is how it is done.

The materials and equipment are all shown in the picture. You will need - some fleece in colours of your choice, a dish of warm water, some liquid soap ( washing up liquid is fine) and a needle felting tool. These can be bought very cheaply from good craft suppliers.                      
First of all take a small amount of fleece and roll it around in your hands until you have a small ball. Then take your needle felting tool and stab the ball to compact it. This will need to be done over a sponge or brush to accommodate the needle when it comes out the other side of the fleece. Now dampen your hands with the warm, soapy water and roll the compacted ball around in them. This will compact it even more and what started out as a reasonable sized piece of fleece will be much smaller. Now carefully add another layer of fleece to the ball. Needle felt it to the ball and roll around in damp hands as before. Keep repeating this until you have a ball of the required size. Check it carefully for any lumpy bits. If you find any you can add a little more fleece, a very thin layer, to even the ball out.
Next dip the ball in to the water and roll quite firmly either in your hands or on a table. Squeeze it out and repeat. Now bounce the ball or throw it from hand to hand. This will make it really firm and harden the felt.
Some people prefer to just needle felt and not use any water but this leaves a soft ball which has a slightly fluffy appearance. If you want to use your felt balls to make a necklace I recommend that you wet felt them as they will be stronger. If you wish you can also wrap woollen yarn around the balls before the final wet felting as I have done with some in the picture.
Uses - they can be strung together to make a necklace or bracelet, sewn on to a piece of base felt or fabric to make a brooch , displayed in a glass bowl or used in artwork. If you stick to grey and white you can make them resemble pebbles from the beach. In order to do this make them slightly oval. It is very unusual to find a perfectly round pebble. If you wish to use them in art work as I have done I recommend that the final wet felting is done when they are arranged on your picture. Place them on the unfelted fibres of the picture and wet felt them at the same time as it. You will have to work the felt very hard to get them to stick and possibly add a few stitches when dry to secure them properly. I have included a photo of some artwork I did using felt pebbles. I called it 'flow'. I hope you give this a go and have fun!