“Everyone is going to have very clean hands when we get done making felted soap,” I told the women who sat around the big table at the Mansion this morning.
Peg, Claudia, June, Lori, Janie and Ellen each held a bar of ivory soap in their hand waiting for instructions. First I showed them the roving that came from my sheep Kim and Socks. Then I showed them a picture of Kim and Socks. (We also used some of the colored roving that Suzy gave me when I was making the dryer balls.)
As they wrapped the roving around the soap, they all wondered how it would stay, even though I had explained the felting process.
I don’t blame them for wondering, or even believing it would work the way I explained it. Felting always feels like a bit of magic to me too and I’ve done it more than a few times.
“Maybe we should glue it,” Claudia suggested. And I told her a little water and the soap itself will be the “glue.”
It really is very easy to make felted soap.
After everyone had their soap wrapped in roving we put them in nylon knee highs. Then twisted the knee high and kept wrapping the soap until it took up the whole nylon.
We passed around the bowl of warm water and everyone soaked their soap in it.
I used Peg’s soap as an example and showed the women how to rub it between their hands to agitate the roving so the pieces of wool would stick together, basically making felt fabric.
Ellen was surprised when she found her hands covered in soap. “This is very clean work,” I reminded her, “not like when we were using clay.”
After rubbing the soap for about five minutes, we let them sit for five more minutes before opening up the nylons and taking the soap out.
I didn’t get to take a picture of them all, Kim (who is an Aide who was helping us) and I were trying to make sure the soaps didn’t get mixed up. Unlike drawings or sculptures, there’s no place to write a name on the soap. Then we put the soap on the windowsill to dry.
I told the women that the soap will come through the felting and it will be like having a bar of soap wrapped in a washcloth.