Friday, August 27, 2010

Felt Beads; How To

Making felted beads is a easy and fun project to do. Whether your working with a women's cooperative, a group of kids at Spring Camp or your just a little board over the weekend, this is the project for you. It's a very low tech process and the materials that you will need are easily available in Morocco.

Materials needed:
Wool fleece or wool yarn
Two buckets or bowls
Hot water
Cold water
Soap (such as Hammam soap, dish soap, or shampoo)
Carders (optional)

First you will need to find some wool. Clean fleece that hasn't yet been made into yarn is best. In my site I do not have fleece available so I'm using wool yarn. This is more work, as it needs to be unwound and carefully pulled apart. (If you do choose to use yarn, do make sure that it is actually wool and not some other fiber. If you do not use wool you will not be able to make felt.)

At this point it is best to card the wool, so as to further separate the fibers, making them nice a fluffy. If you have women who spin yarn in your community I encourage you to have them help you with this part. Otherwise, you can pick up some good pointers here.

You can also use the carders to mix two or more colors together.

Now it's time to felt! Fill one bucket with hot water and a little soap. The water should be as hot as you can stand to put your hands into it (so not boiling). Fill your other bucket with cold water. It should be as could as you can get it so if you have a refrigerator or a cold water spring nearby great. The soap will help to strip the natural oils from the wool and help it felt better while the hot and cold water will "shock" it into felting.

Take some of your newly carded wool and dip it into the hot soapy water.

Now take the wad of wool and roll it into a ball using your palms. After a few seconds of rolling, drop the ball into the cold water and repeat the process. Go back and forth between the hot and cold water until you have a tightly formed bead.

Wool is an inexpensive and plentiful resource here in Morocco, which makes this project especially easy to do with groups or individuals that might not have a lot of other resources at their disposal. String these beads on some yarn and you have a necklace! If you want to get "fancy" you can find some elastic and make some bracelets or some erring posts. I was able to find earring posts in Rabat and I know that they are also available in Ouarzazate, so keep your eyes open.


Emily Pitts said...

this is a lovely tutorial, i'm trying one right now. will let you know how it goes :) thanks for taking the time to post this.

Emily and Jon said...

glad you like the tutorial. I would love to know how it goes!