Thursday, November 19, 2009
Felted wish stones are a unique gift that will have people asking, "How did you do that?" Not to mention, it's an interesting project that can be made using a few simple household items and some sheep's wool. We're going to make a very enigmatic looking object, and you'll either love it or find it a little too weird. So, let's get started!
Grab a small stone from the yard, preferably about the size of your hand with a fairly smooth surface. Next, you need two medium sized pots or bowls for water-- one for hot and one for cold, some liquid dish soap, rubber gloves, an old nylon stocking and some scissors, and finally wool for felting which you can buy in various colors at your local yarn or craft store. Now, be prepared for some serious scrubbing action; this project is a mini workout, too!
The first step is to cut the foot off your stocking, so make sure you don't want it anymore. We will use this to hold the felt onto the stone during the felting process. Prepare your space in the kitchen by filling up one of your pots with very cold water and one with very hot water. You can boil the water on the stove first if you prefer. Always take proper safety precautions when using high temperatures.
Next, pull off several thin layers of wool and begin layering them on your stone until all of the stone's surface area is well hidden beneath at least an inch or two of wool. Each layer should go in opposite directions-- think of placing each layer in an "X" pattern. It will look like a giant hair ball at this point, but trust me, the wool will condense during the felting process. Here's the tricky part, put your hair ball rock into the foot of the stocking and tie it tight with a slip not that can easily be untied again. We'll be retying it as we go to keep pulling the stocking tight against the stone, which helps the fibers form together. The tricky part is making sure the stone continues to stay covered with wool on all sides while being shoved into a tiny stocking.
Now, put on your rubber gloves because your hands will be going back and forth between very hot and very cold water, and you don't want to feel it. Let the felting begin! Dip the stone into hot water and squirt a generous amount of liquid dish soap all over it (the slip will keep the scrubbing process from being too abrasive). Now, rub the stone like crazy. Then dip it into the cold water and repeat. Go back and forth between hot and cold, adding soap, scrubbing hard and you will shock the the wool fibers, felting them together. As you continue this process for at least 10 to fifteen minutes, untie the stocking and move the stone around in it, and retie it nice and tight. If you keep scrubbing the same places over and over without rotating your stone, you may get a little wool that finds its way up into the knot of the stocking and that ends up looking like a little tail. You can easily just cut this part off if it happens.
To add the band of color, thus making it a wish stone (I've also heard the band symbolizes good luck), pull back the stocking halfway through the scrubbing process and wrap a thin band of wool in a different color all around the stone, retie the stocking and continue felting. The more scrubbing the better! You will know you are done when the fibers are flat against the stone and there are no floofs of wool unattached. Squeeze the stone to get out excess water and sit it on the counter to dry. There you have it! You can even do this with soap as a natural exfoliate. The heft of the stone makes an interesting contrast with the lightness of the wool. If you want to have a little fun, have someone close their eyes and feel it before they know what it is, you'll get a great reaction! Enjoy using this new skill to felt just about anything.