“Join me for a couple of hours of messy fun!” That’s what the class description said. I had no idea what felting soap was, but if it was messy and fun, I decided to sign up. So I was off to the Ranch House at Jojoba this morning to find out what I had gotten myself into.
The first step in this process was to pick a bar of soap. That’s my lavender scented bar on the lower left. There were bags of wool scraps to choose your colors from. The purple jumped out at me, but the instructor wasn’t sure it was really wool, so I had to pick a different color. (I did wonder why she would bring stuff that you couldn’t use, but we’re all just volunteers here.)
Next you have to shave off all the edges on your bar of soap to make it easier to cover.
After pulling the wool strands apart, you begin wrapping your soap in the first layer. Making sure the corners get covered is most important. You don’t want to be able to see the soap at all, so it might take several layers.
I decided I wanted some white highlights to that burgundy, so I wrapped on a cobweb of white.
Once you’ve got the colors and layers you want, you wrap the bar in a section of pantyhose; creating a bag for the bar to be in. Our leader, Sarah, said she wished she had called some of us to bring along some pantyhose. Good thing she didn’t call me. It’s been well over ten years since I’ve had any of those around. Someone suggested that maybe you could pick up some pantyhose at Goodwill. Used pantyhose?? Yuck!
Then we went outside for the messy part. You have to immerse your soap bag in hot water to get it good and soaked. Then you start rolling it in your hands; around and around. Soap suds go everywhere! You’ve got to do this for about a half an hour until the wool begins to ‘felt’ and seize up around the bar of soap. (The scenery around us was not too shabby either as we were working.)
You can squirt it with cold water to keep it wet as you work. Sarah said that it also helps to shock the wool by rubbing it on old fashioned scrub boards.
Well, after about 45 minutes, my bar of soap was still lumpy and not seizing up. I took it out of the pantyhose bag to discover that the white stuff apparently wasn’t wool. It hadn’t transformed at all, but the burgundy underneath was perfectly felted. So I ended up with a rather mundane felted soap. Guess it just wasn’t my day for picking the right materials.
Everyone was pretty happy with the results of their labors. You might ask why the heck would you do this to a bar of soap? Well, I’ve been told it’s something like having a loofa sponge with the soap built in for your shower. As the soap gets used up, the felting shrinks to stay tight around the bar of soap. Sarah says that when the soap is gone, you end up with a little pouch that perhaps granddaughters would like to hide little precious items in.
I do know that after 45 minutes of felting/washing my hands, seven hours later my hands are still creamy and smelling like lavender.
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy