This week I want to share a fun little zero-waste project that’s great both at home and on the road: felted soap. The wool is naturally exfoliating, and when you travel felted soap is less messy than a bar of soap in your travel bag, and it saves space. If you have sensitive skin, or use any kind of special soap, it’s a great way to ensure you always have the right soap with you on the road, too. At home, felted soap won’t get soggy or slimy in the shower, and is an attractive, eco-friendly alternative to scrubbing puffs.
It’s very simple to make with any bar of soap you like, and also makes a great gift:
If you like giving handmade gifts but end up running out of time (I feel like this happens every year, right?), then this project is for you. Start now, stock-up, and always have some on hand to give. If you want to learn more about how felting works, check out this Creatorvox post on making felted coasters. Ready to get started?
Here’s how to make felted soap:
Start with any bar of soap you like, in whatever size and shape you like. I like making these in two sizes: home, and travel.
If you want to cut your bar of soap into a different size or shape, just use a hot knife or wire. I set a bowl of hot water next to my work area and dip this cheese-wire into it frequently as I cut:
It takes a little while, especially if you are using a harder soap, but keep the knife or wire hot and it will work:
Now for the fun part: making the design. Take the wool roving you want for the main color and spread it out a bit so it is thick enough to obscure most of the bar, but not too thick. Start wrapping it around your bar of soap:
Turn the bar of soap as you wrap the roving around it so that all of the surfaces are covered. Pull the roving fairly tightly while you wrap so it stays in place when you start felting:
Once the bar of soap is completely covered in wool roving it should look something like this:
Now you can add designs and accent colors if you like. Just wrap the accent-color roving around the bar in the pattern you want. Make sure to wrap in the same direction as you did for the main color:
Tip: Abstract designs are a lot easier to make because the roving will shift around a bit during the felting process and can distort a precise design. Pull the accent color tightly as you wrap to help it stay in place better.
Felting the roving-covered bar of soap:
Next, dip your roving-covered bar of soap into water (any temperature) and wet it thoroughly:
Remove it from the water and start gently squeezing and agitating the wool roving. You can do this by rubbing the roving-covered soap gently between your palms for a few minutes. The roving will feel very loose at first and will move around a lot, so agitate slowly:
Wool fibers are naturally barbed, and as they start to interact, the barbs will catch on each other and draw the fibers closer together, making felt. As the roving starts to felt you can rub it a little more vigorously. You will be able to see and feel if the roving is moving out of place. If that happens, just put the roving back where you want it and agitate the fibers until they interlock and it stays there.
Tip: push the roving towards the corners as you agitate it. This will keep the roving from felting only in the middle and exposing the corners.
Keep agitating the roving until it’s nice and secure around the bar of soap. To test it, dip it back into the water and then see how much the roving slides around when you take it out. When you’re done felting, your felted soap will still be covered in soap bubbles, but that’s ok. Trying to rinse them off at this point will just make more soap bubbles, so let them dry and brush them off later.
Now it’s time for the second half of the soap:
Another way to create a design is by bringing the accent color with the main color as you wrap the bar of soap:
It is a lot more difficult to make a precise design this way, but the felting process will be easier. Once your bar of soap is completely wrapped in roving, you can wet it and start felting as before:
Now you have two bars of felted soap! This project takes so little space and time to set up that it’s great to do any time you have a few minutes. Before long you will have lots of felted soap to give to everyone on your list. You can even make small bars of felted soap for traveling:
What you will need:
- Bar of soap
- 100% wool roving in main color and accent color(s), about 1/4 oz. (6-7 grams) total per full-size bar
- Knife, or wire, and cutting board (optional)
- Bowl of water
Tips and tricks:
- This is a great project to do with children as well. If they don’t cover the bar of soap completely, you can always either add more roving and keep felting, or just use it as-is.
- I love felted soap for traveling because you don’t need a big case for it. It does take about two hours to dry enough to put into a toiletry bag, so having a separate zip compartment for it can be helpful if you’re in a hurry. Once dry, though, it can go right into your bag and won’t get everything else wet and soapy.
- Wool is naturally resistant to mildew, but it does need to dry out between uses. Try leaning your felted soap against the shower wall on one edge so it dries better. It should stay right where you put it because it isn’t slippery like ordinary soap.
- When the soap inside your felted soap is gone, you will have a nice little ball of wool to use for the inside of a felted dryer ball! You can also make a felted garland, which is probably what I will do with these pretty bars:
Have fun make felted soap, and hopefully accomplishing your handmade gift-giving goals. Feel free to ask a question or leave a comment and don’t forget to subscribe to Creatorvox (button on the right) to get new posts right in your email box. You can also follow Creatorvox on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and tricks between posts. Thanks for reading, and happy making!