Felt (it) up
You’ll have a ball with this sweet springtime project
Story & photos by Xylia Buros
April showers may bring May flowers, but spherical accessories seem way fresher than floral brooches this season. Learn how to make your own felt balls with fiber artist Nad Thitadilaka of nFelt (nfelt.com). They are fun and easy to make, look charming bunched together in a bowl or vase, and serve double-duty when finished with a brooch pin. Use the felting techniques below to experiment with your own designs — try making balls in different sizes, uniquely shaped objects, or even long felt scarves.
• small amount of merino wool fleece (in different colors A and B)
• hand soap or dish detergent
• rubber gloves
• any size bowl filled with hot water
• sharp knife
• brooch pin
Step 1: SHAPING THE FLEECE
Wool fleece comes shaped into a fluffy rope. Gently tug the end of the rope to pull out strands of fleece. Scrunch up some fleece in color A into a 2-inch ball. Then, pull out pieces of fleece in color B and start wrapping over the wool ball. Place each layer in a different direction so the color B fleece completely covers the color A fleece. Keep wrapping the wool until it is three times the size you want your felt ball to be. The sphere will be light and transparent like cotton candy.
Step 2: FELTING
Fill a bowl with steaming hot water and a squirt of soap or detergent. With your rubber gloves on, hold the fleece ball with one hand and sprinkle it with soapy hot water with your other hand. Get both of your hands soapy and keep them loosely cupped. Move the wet ball around in your palms until the ball has shrunk to half the original size. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the ball or it may crease. Keep circling the ball in your hands until it becomes hardened. This process takes about five minutes. Rinse the ball thoroughly with cold water to remove excess soap and then pat dry with a towel.
Step 3: EMBELLISHING
Once the ball is completely dry, cut a slit into it with a sharp knife to reveal the colored layers inside. Embellish it with beads or stitching to add your unique touch. To make it a brooch to wear on your bag or jacket, just sew on a brooch pin. Display it proudly to get those rain clouds packing.