Wednesday, May 13, 2015

how to make a solid wool felted stone

Work life has been very busy lately. To make the most of my art time, I've been looking at ways to streamline my process a bit. I've been wanting to do a hanging piece with my stones, without having the weight of actual stones. I've made solid wool stones before by needle-felting them firmly and then wet-felting them, but it takes time that I just don't have right now.  This method allows me to make a batch of stones at a time with much less effort.
Want to give it a try?

You'll need:
wool roving/batting that will felt
felted wool sweater
a knee-high stocking or a leg from pantyhose
washing machine
felting needle (optional but helpful)
plastic bag
dish soap

If you've followed my tutorial for felted stones, this will be pretty self-explanatory. We'll substitute felted sweater for the stone, following the same steps, but allowing the washing machine to do the felt work for us.

From the wool sweater, cut a basic stone shape. You'll want to cut one larger piece for the center, widest, part of the stone and two smaller pieces, one for the top and one for the bottom. No need to get exact here as the felting will alter the shape and make it nicely rounded.

Next you'll lay out a little mat of roving for your stone slightly wider and about 3 times longer than your stone. Lay a thin layer out with the fibers running horizontally, and a second layer with the fibers running vertically. This will encourage the fibers to tangle together more easily around your "stone". Roll the wool "stone" up in the fiber, tucking the sides in and making a neat little package.

Using your felting needle, tack the edges and ends in place. No need to needle the whole surface, just get it to stay put long enough to get to the next step.

Now repeat those steps until you have a pile of little wool stones-to-be, and grab your stocking.

If the stocking you're using has a seam in the toe, turn it inside out. I've found that the seam will make an indent in the stone, which is fixable, but easily avoidable.

Now slide your first stone down into the toe of the stocking and tie a knot right above it.

Keep adding stones and tying between each one until the stocking is filled. Resist the urge to whack people with your stocking of stones. The kids will see and follow suit. (I make the mistakes so you don't have to)

Now, if you want to make lots and lots of stones this way you can save up all your stone-filled stockings until you have a washer load full. If you want to make just a few, or if you are impatient, toss that stocking in with a load of jeans and let 'er go. I ran these for one cycle, but if you see they're not felting well enough, toss them in another load and let them go again.

They're pretty gnarly looking when they're done.

Get out your scissors and set them free. Cut above the knot and peel the stocking off of your stone.

Whoa. The surface is pretty unruly, but that's okay, we can fix the surface. We're more concerned about the center being pretty well felted. That's the step that takes time if you were to do them by hand. These are well-felted so we'll just address that surface fuzz.

Take your fuzzy stone to the sink and wet the surface with a little warm water and a drop of soap. Rub the stone using the plastic bag for about 30 seconds. Rinse off the stone and set it aside to dry.

See? So much better.

In a relatively short amount of time and with minimal felting effort you can have a whole pile of solid wool stones that you can use in your projects.

A few things to keep in mind:

Choose a wool center that won't bleed color, or choose a color that will work with your design if it does bleed. Grey is a safe choice, red might not be.

Some plastic bags are printed with ink that will transfer once wet. Turn your plastic bag inside out and avoid using the printed area.

After you rinse your stone, just set it down and let it dry. You can trim off any stray fuzzies with small scissors once it's dry.


Soon...well, soonish...I'll show you what I did with mine.

If you try this out I'd love to see what you're doing with them. Drop me a line or leave a comment and share!

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.


Ariadne said...

Thanks for such a great tutorial! I have made some felted "stones" like these in the past but didn't use the washing machine!This is great! For the time being I am not making any felted stones of any type as I have too much work, hopefully I will make some in summer. AriadnefromGreece!

Kathy Kinsella said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial ... I just knew there had to be a way of making them faster :)

Sandies' Patch said...

Simple really! One idea to add to my hobby list....I'll have to live to 200yrs old to complete the current list lol!

Unknown said...

This looks like a great way to mass produce! I can't wait to see what you are going to do with them!
Happy felting!

Unknown said...

Hi. This is my comment for your blog and giveaway. I volunteer teach with some of the poorest women on the lake of Lake chapel in San Juan cosala. We make jewellery with water bottles. Beer caps and soda cans. I think I'd I had the money..I'd fly you down with me to teach these women and kids how to make the stones in their lives more beautiful. The more you can beautify your life when sometimes you are laying on the side of the road under a tarp and on stones....well the more beauty the better. Thanks for sharing your lovely talent. It inspires me.


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