The act of “felting” anything, particularly a bar of soap, is completely satisfying to the senses. The combination of soft wool and gentle lather is very pleasing, as is the process of shaping the felt over the soap. If you’re using a scented soap, your sense of smell will be rewarded as well.
Why felt a bar of soap? Besides providing a fun, easy family activity, your felt bar acts as a washcloth and soap in one — the felt tightens as the soap shrinks with use. Felted soaps also make lovely gifts.
You will need:
A bar of soap (Most solid soaps will felt well. Goat’s milk soap, in a scent like lavender, is especially nice. Ivory soap will work as well. Soaps with rounded corners are preferred.)
Wool roving, available at craft, knitting and specialty stores. (The main color should be about 1 1/3 times the area of the bar of soap, with other small amounts of roving for accent colors.)
A dish of warm water or a sink
A raised screen, or other drying surface, if you have one
Wrap your main piece of roving loosely around the bar of soap, lengthwise and widthwise, so that the entire surface of the soap is covered in a loose-fitting package. Be sure to leave extra wool at the corners of the soap.
Wrap accent threads around the package in any design you’d like. (The design will change somewhat, as threads will shift in the process.)
Drizzle with warm water, either from a bowl or at the sink, enough to barely wet most of the bar.
Begin to mold the package with your hands. The soap will start to lather.
Keep forming and molding the felt to the soap bar, making sure to work the various surfaces evenly. The felt may appear wrinkly and loose. You may need to scrape away excess lather with your hands.
Occasionally squeeze with a towel to release excess moisture. You may even want to let the bar sit on a towel for a few minutes.
Continue to rub in your hands, turning the soap over and evenly smoothing the various surfaces. Be careful to keep the corners covered. The felt should begin to adhere more tightly to the soap.
When you are satisfied that the felt has tightened over the soap, wipe the excess lather off. Briefly run cold water over the soap to further tighten the fibers.
Let the soap dry for approximately 24 hours on a towel or on a screen, if you have one.
Enjoy your unique felted soap.
Here is a felt soap that Anna created:
Photos by Anna and Suz Lipman