Sometimes children’s crafts can feel redundant. Materials like poster paints, construction paper and glue sticks tend to lead to predictable results. If you are looking for a child-friendly project that moves beyond the usual, try wet felting. Kids can easily participate in the process from start to finish and you can create a wide variety of projects.
Here is a guide on how to get started wet felting, plus a few project ideas for beginners.
The term wet felting refers to the process of taking wool roving (wool that has not yet been spun into yarn) and using warm water, soap and friction to cause the tiny fibers in the wool to lift up and interlock to create one piece of material.
For your first project, start with felted balls. Put warm water in a bowl with several drops of everyday dish soap. Pull apart a small amount of wool from the bunch and wrap the strands into a ball. You can use a single color or mix several different colors together.
Place the ball of wool roving into the bowl of water and begin working it back and forth between your palms to create friction. For younger children, consider placing the wool roving inside a piece of panty hose and securing the top with a knot to make it easier to maintain the shape of the wool in their small hands.
Roll the piece of wool around in your hands for a minimum of five minutes. Periodically dip the ball back into the warm water if it starts to feel dry. When you are satisfied with the consistency of the wool, let the balls dry overnight.
Felted jewelry. Turn your felted balls into art you can wear. Decide whether you want to make a felted bracelet or necklace and cut the piece of string, cord or ribbon to the appropriate length. Thread a child-safe needle with the string, cord or ribbon and use the needle to pierce each ball onto the string. When you have the desired amount of felt balls on your string, tie the ends into a bow.
Felted acorns. Plan an autumn nature walk to gather up some fallen acorns. Carefully remove the tops of each acorn. Match up your acorn tops with similarly-sized felt balls. Dab a bit of craft glue into the inside of each acorn top and insert your felt ball into the top (or adults can use a hot glue gun). Let each acorn dry overnight. Gather several felted acorns in a bowl as a fall decoration or hang each acorn from a ribbon and use them as ornaments or gift tags.
Felted bird eggs. Use the same basic steps to create more challenging projects such as felted eggs to display in a bird’s nest. Follow the basic felting instructions, with slight modifications. When trying to create different shapes (other than a simple ball or flat surface), use another item as the core to maintain the shape. To make felted bird eggs, use plastic or Styrofoam eggs. Wrap a piece of wool roving horizontally around the egg shape. Wrap a second length of wool roving around the egg vertically. Little hands will likely need some help with the wrapping. Follow the basic wet felting instructions to turn the wool roving into a continuous piece of felt around the egg shape. Display your felted eggs in a bird’s nest as part of a seasonal nature table.
For more wet felting project ideas, consult Complete Feltmaking: Easy Techniques and 25 Great Projects by Gillian Harris.
Natural wool roving (available from craft stores in a variety of colors)
Bowl of warm water
A pair of panty hose (optional)
Felted jewelry: a child-safe sewing needle, piece of string, ribbon or cord and scissors
Felted acorns: real acorn tops, craft glue (or a hot glue gun if you have one—for adult use only) and ribbon (optional)
Felted bird eggs: Styrofoam or plastic eggs