Sunday, February 19, 2012

how to make a felted stone


If you find this, or one of my other tutorials, helpful and would like to make a monetary contribution to help me keep wool in my basket and ideas flowing, I'd be so grateful.  By clicking the "Buy Now" button below you can choose your own price for the tutorial.  It's completely optional, but oh so appreciated.


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I've been making felted stones for several years now and I've often been asked how I make them.  There are different ways of making stones, but this is my method, one I've tweaked over time to suit me.

Want to give it a try?
What you'll need:

stones
wool roving
a felting needle
an old clean towel
a bowl
soap (I use dish soap)
a plastic bag
access to hot and cold water



To start, fluff out your roving and pull wisps of it off.  Lay these wisps down with the fibers laying in the same direction, slightly overlapping, until you have a mat of fibers forming on the table.



The mat should be slightly wider and roughly 3 times longer than the stone.


Be sure that the first layer of wool is of a consistent depth and there are no large gaps in the mat.  The bottom of this layer will be what you see on the outside of your finished stone so it should be as uniform as possible.

Add a second layer of wool with the fibers laying perpendicular to the first layer.


Press down on the mat you've made.  If you can feel gaps or if the mat feels unusually thin, add a third layer, again running perpendicular to the layer beneath it.

Lay your stone on the fiber mat.  If your stone has a definite top and bottom, position it with the bottom side up.  Fold the wool up and over the stone and roll the stone over one time, keeping the wool taut as you roll.


After this first fold, the top of your rock should be facing you. 


Fold the side pieces up and over the top of the rock.  These sides will pad the top of the stone, giving it a slightly thicker surface than the bottom.  This helps the stone sit nicely once felted.


Continue rolling the rest of the wool over the rock, keeping the wool taut but not so tight that you pull fibers out of the mat.


If you don't have a felting needle, you could take the stone right to wet-felting at this point.  If you do have a needle, even out the fiber at each end of the stone until you can no longer see where the fiber was rolled.



Fill your bowl with hot water and add a drop or two of soap.  Dribble water over the stone gently until all of the wool is wet.


Carefully move the wet stone from one hand to the next, sort of like you're playing catch.  You want to treat it gingerly until the wool fibers start to pull together.


Dip the stone back in the water from time to time to keep the wool warm.  You can also add a drop of soap to your hands as needed and keep rolling the stone gently.  Once the wool starts to hold together a bit, you can start to add a little more pressure.  You'll want to be careful not to rough up the surface of the stone, but rather to get those fibers to bind together around the stone.



Once the wool has felted around the stone pretty securely (if you can pinch the wool and separate fibers from the mat, it's not ready yet, keep working) grab your plastic bag.


If the bag has a logo printed on it, make sure to turn this to the inside so the ink doesn't transfer to your stone.  Wet the bag, fold the stone up inside it, and rub.  This is where you can add some real pressure to the stone.  The tiny folds in the plastic bag act as a gentle washboard but the smooth surface keeps the wool from getting scruffy.  Rub and roll the stone with the bag until the wool is firmly felted.


Immediately rinse the stone under very cold water (or dip it in a bowl of ice water) while rubbing it with the plastic bag.  This will help the fibers lay down nicely.


Lay the wet stone on the towel and leave it to dry.  Don't try to force water out of it with a towel, just leave it alone.  It's a good idea to use an old towel or a rag as some dyed rovings can leach some color while drying and you wouldn't want that on your pretty tea towels.


Once your stone is completely dry, you can trim off any stray fuzz with a pair of scissors.

And there you have it!  A stone cocooned in soft wool.  Oh the possibilities.


Do keep in mind that some wool felts better than others.  Roving marked "superwash" isn't going to wet-felt for you.  Sometimes undyed wool can be harder to felt as well.  Some wools like shetland have a scruffier surface.  My favorite wools to use for this are corriedale, falkland, polwarth, and merino but experiment and see what works for you.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comment section and I'll answer them there too.

Have fun!


52 comments:

Diane Sullivan Photography said...

Lisa,
THANK YOU so much for sharing this tutorial. Of course, nobody will ever make stones that are quite as beautiful and ornate as yours. Your added touch is what makes them unique. Can't wait to try this, but I still love having the two sets you made.

prpltrtl946 said...

Thank you, Lisa!!! 8*)

I was worried when I saw the felting needle on the list, but you took care of that quick!! I have everything I need right here in my home!!

This is very easy to follow and is something I can do even with my iffy hands!!

Thank you!! 8*)

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

You're welcome, Diane. I hope you have fun with it.

purple turtle girl - I've made gobs of stones without the needle. By needling the ends, I don't have to worry about the wool unrolling, and can batch my work. I needle a bunch and set them aside until I can wet-felt them all. Hope you have fun with it.

Terrie said...

Lisa, your tutorial is clear. I just know the good use of a plastic bag. Your felted stones with stitches are absolutely wonderful. Love all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the great tutorial. I've loved your work since the first time I discovered it. Now, if only I can make a stone myself--I'll be so happy. And for the embroidery part, is this very tricky? I can't wait to try. Thanks again for being so inpiring!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your clear tutorial. We've wet-felted stones before with mixed results. I think your tut will help the kids and I achieve consistency. Your work is always inspiring to us. So glad for your blog.
melissa m

Rhymes With Magic said...

Thank you so much Lisa! I see now I've been being too rough with my stones. I need to be dainty, darn it!

Julianna said...

Thank you for posting this tutorial! What clear, beautiful instructions. I have everything I need to make them except for stones :) Luckily, those shouldn't be too hard to find!

Brenda said...

Excellent tutorial Lisa and a fascinating process! :)

julochka said...

the needle felting on the edges was the tip i needed...i've felted a few stones and some soap, and i always end up with issues on the ends. will definitely be trying again!

xox,
/j

Sandie said...

Thank you Lisa!
Can't wait to get started, have got some coloured Merino, so will use that.
I will post pics when I've done one or two. (I think I won't be able to stop at one or two LOL!).

Have a great week,

Sandie xx

antilight said...

Thank you so much for sharing the instructions! This will be my next project for summer when I will find some stones to felt around :)

Heather M. said...

Thanks Lisa, for the well-written and explanatory tutorial. I will have to give it a try. Now to find some wool roving in my area.

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Thanks everybody!

Heather - be gentle with the stones... :D

j - yep, I had trouble with the ends before also. You can fluff them out or lay a thin layer of roving them as an alternative to the needle. But, I know you have needles so carry on...

Sandie - I'd love to see pics!


anonymous - the embroidery isn't that tricky once you get used to it. Go for it!

Amy O'H. said...

I'm going to have to try this. It's a pity that my stitches would never look as good as yours though. I love the way your embellish your stones. Thanks for sharing this tutorial.

Iris said...

Thank you very much for this tutorial! I will try it (when I've found the time..)
Iris

Sonia / Cozy Memories said...

Thank you ever so much for the awesome tutorial, my friend. I know these things take time, so thanks for your precious time.
oxox

Casey said...

I am going to try this tomorrow! I love wool and rocks and have long admired the melding of the two but haven't taken the time to learn hoe to do it. Thanks for your awesome tutorial!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try this! I have one of your little felted stones on my desk, I am going to try and make it some companions! :D

Sonya Kanelstrand said...

Thanks for a beautiful tutorial! I would love to try felting stones.

Barbara said...

I love your process. I've felted over rocks but with varying results. Next time I will follow your tutorial. I love how you used the plastic bag to help agitate the wool with the folds yet keeping things smooth ... I can't wait to get out some roving and get started.

Peace!

pam ehlers stec said...

What a great tutorial, Lisa! I've been playing around with wet felting objects for a while now with mixed results. Starting with a bit of needle felting before the wet felting is such a fantastic idea. I found that the end results were so much smoother and uniform. Thanks so much for that extremely helpful tip! When I first begin wet felting I like to place the rock in the toe of a knee high nylon. I think it helps to hold the wool layers together nicely. You do have to be careful though because the fibers sometimes like to migrate through the mesh. But it works great for the those first few minutes of wet felting when the wool feels kind of floppy. Thanks again for taking the time to post this really terrific tutorial.

Casey- Sesame Seed Designs said...

I did this today with my 4 year old and blogged our results here
http://sesameseeddesigns.com/blog/2012/02/felted-wool-covered-rocks/

They turned out great! Thanks again for the tutorial!

mei mei said...

Lovely and beautifu.
I hope the fever is down and she's doing better :)

Sue A said...

Thank you ever so much for this tutorial. I totally get it now! Can't wait to try this your way. You do such beautiful work. Just love it.

Bhavik said...

Thanks a ton Lisa....your technique is incredible.....just loved it. I may create few jewellery out of it..Wow....Thanks again.....

Bhavik
India

Tallulah said...

Thank you for the tutorial, it makes me want to run home and try this right now :)

jen said...

awesome tutorial! i've been wanting to do this for ages (tried it on my own, didn't go so well). thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Is there any concern about moths when making things from wool? I grew up seeing my Mom taking particular care of woolens, handling them carefully, keeping them clean and aired, and storing them in mothballs. I wonder what your thoughts are on this, Lisa. Thank you for so generously providing your excellent instructions for the felted stones.
Ruth Hower

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Ruth - I haven't had any trouble with moths yet. I keep my wool in bins with lavender and sometimes cedar. I don't use moth balls because that smell does not come out of the wool, even after its been felted, and I've read that it's a possible carcinogen. When I bring in any wool that hasn't been commercially processed, I put it in the deep freeze for a week or so, just in case it's harboring any nibblers.

I don't think you can entirely avoid the possibility of moths, but so far this has worked for me. (knocking on wood)

Dame De Coeur said...

bonsoir je viens d'essayer pas facile mais je vais encore pratiquer pour y arriver !!merci beaucoup vous êtes très talentueuse est généreuse !!
j'aime bien venir ici c'est que du bonheur !!
a bientôt

Jill said...

Lisa, this is so generous of you to share this detailed tutorial. I hope to try it someday!

Jill said...

Well I thought I'd order some roving and have no idea how much to order. About how many ounces would it take to cover an egg sized rock? Do you recommend a source to order roving?
Thanks so much!

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Jill, for a single egg-sized rock you'll need less than an ounce of fiber. You'll find tons of options on Etsy, both in pre-dyed and un-dyed fiber. You can even find sample packs with several different color or breeds of fibers. That's where I'd start. :D

Margaret said...

Thank you for this tutorial! I have dyed some of our wool, so I am ready to try it. I have a question about embroidering them that I hope you might be willing to answer. I have also wondered this about embroidering the faces on already-stuffed dolls. How do you start and stop? Do you make a knot, or use a couple of back stitches? How do you hide them? Thanks again.

Tara said...

Thank you for sharing, Lisa. I can't wait to try this.

Kerstin said...

This is such a beautiful idea :) I have to try it.

More Like June said...

Oh my goodness. These are so beautiful. And the embroidered ones! Thank you for the tutorial. (I found you via Pinterest). Your embroidered rocks are flying around! You have some really amazing posts here, I will have to peak around some more!

Marilyn said...

Thanks for your sharing generosity! Much appreciated. I'm going to start making Christmas presents this very day!

Martina said...

and you might shake your head - but I did not know that there is actually a real rock inside. I thought it is simply a ball of wool. I have never touched one otherwise I would know of course. thanks for sharing this is great.

Pat de Verre said...

Thank you for sharing this clever tuto. I'll try during my holidays

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this tutorial. Ever since I discovered your website, I've been in love with felting. The rocks are so fun to do and your tutorial makes it very easy to understand. I'm totally addicted! Thanks again.

isabel bono said...

Oh, thank you so much! Now i have a green jacket stone and it's my favorite pet!
Kissis4u

isabel bono said...

my stones:
http://esapiedramehallamadoporminombre.blogspot.com

Doggenfan said...

Hi Lisa,
thanks for your tutorial, I tried it yesterday and it worked out fine! The needling is a good trick, I'll try it out on felting soap as well, next time. I might have a tip for you as well (found in the FUN, a beautiful magazine about felting (german, but also in english!): instead of cutting of any excess fibers with scissors, you could try to shave them of with a dispoasble razor. Tried it, works! All the best from France (are the stones still arriving? :) )

nancy said...

Any way to do this repurposing old wool from sweaters, etc.? Thanks!

Unknown said...

What is roving? I have felting yarn that I used to crochet a basket. I have some left so can I use that by pulling it apart as you show. If not where would I get roving?

HGK said...

Hi Lisa,
I thought I'd show you what I made folliwing you tutorial (well - sort of anyway): http://hetkabinet.blogspot.com/2013/06/felted-stones.html
Thanks for all the inspiration!

Liefs, Audrey

lizmaynz said...

Thank you for the tutorial looks like fun i have a friend who has done some felting and i think we could have a nice time on a rainy day doing this project.

Mekelle Gray said...

Hi Lisa!!!

I cannot wait to try this!!! I was hoping to decorate my stones with buttons and and sequins etc is the felted layer created from this technique thick enough to hand sew? Or should I add some more more layers?

Many thanks!

Lisa at lil fish studios said...

Mekelle - this is exactly how I make the stones that I stitch on. The idea with positioning the bottom side of the rock up when you first roll is so you will essentially get two layers of wool on the top of your rock when you're done. I find that sufficient to sew on. If you feel thin spots when you roll it up, then I would add a little more roving in those areas. Good luck!

Mekelle Gray said...

Thanks so much!!! Cannot wait to try this!!!

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