May 11, 2011

DIY Felted Bead Necklace

This is the part where I complain about the weather: it is tooooo hot in Texas to create or wear this felted bead necklace.  But when I was at home in Canada last week, it seemed like a great idea.  I've actually wanted to create one of these felted bead necklaces since 2002!  Isn't that insane?  Surely the trendiness has evaporated and now this felted bead stuff is out, right?  So out is it in again?  Meh, who cares!  A dream has been realized. 

First up: a snapshot of the finished piece, then I'll get into the nitty gritty how-to.  Now, I don't normally blog about human accessorries but this post provides essential backstory to a home accessories project/post I'll be feverishly working on when I'm back home. 





To be honest, I'm not yet 100% sure I love it.  But I am 100% sure that the video below is by far the best video for learning how to make the felted beads.  I watched many more flashy/professional videos with pancake results (you'll see what I mean).  This gal, Sara, is a total pro.  I'm including her video because, really, why re-invent the wheel?  My instructions are just be a clumsy version of her instructions, as I totally thieved her method.  Although I did do something different: I didn't run the water the whole time.  Instead, I used small bowls filled with hot and cold water to save water.



This video is flashier, but not as effective a method.  But it is just soooo pretty!


Basically, felting a ball is super simple.  Start with a wool roving (purchased online or in felt/wool/knitting shops), pictured below, and tear it apart like you would cotton candy.  Add a bit of dish soap, a bit of water, roughly shape it into a ball and then start rolling it between your palms like you would a piece of clay.  Rinse it in hot water, then cold, to "shock" the fibres into felting (you continue doing this throughout the rolling process).  It will feel like it won't work, then it will start to felt.  Trust me.  Add increasing pressure as your felt ball becomes firmer and when it is nice and firm, set it aside to dry for a day or two.  Remember your finished ball will be smaller and denser than the rough ball you created when the roving was dry.  Once my beads were dry, I simply strung them with some heavy duty beading thread and the sharpest needle I could find.  You can fuss with a clasp (I did - click here for a fab how-to) or just tie a knot and slip it over your head.   

Wool Roving

Wool roving pulled apart and ready to shape

Like I mentioned, I did have a couple "pancake" moments before I found Sara's awesome how-to video:

How NOT to create a felted ball - squoosh too hard in the beginning

P.S. I laid out the beads as I worked to get a sense of the pattern I wanted and to make sure I had the right number of each colour.  If you don't do this, your project might be delayed a couple days as you frantically make more felted beads and then impatiently watch them dry for two days.


P.P.S. An unwelcome felted bead hazzard: prune hands that lasted two days.  Stupid felt.  I better wear this necklace all the time.

Felting wool = prune hands

Stay tuned for my home accessories related felting adventure . . .

17 comments:

  1. I am strangely intrigued by this.

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  2. Aw, c'mon. We could wear something like that from about January 15th through February 2nd...in a cold year! Seriously, felting is a process I knew nothing about till recently when I read in another blog about felting old blankets. It completely fascinates me for some reason, even though wool makes me itch like crazy. I loved seeing how the necklace was made. You're right that Sara's video is simple, but her instructions are incredibly detailed. Oh, if all DIY videos were so good!

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  3. this looks really nice. i tried felting once - made a little rug. your necklace is a lot more sophisticated!

    best wishes,
    edie

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  4. ahhh! that is so cute! and i always wondered what it meant to "felt" something, but have been far too lazy to actually look it up.
    you know that scene in "napoleon dynamite" when uncle rico is trying to sell tupperware to a woman with the promise of a ship in a bottle?

    "i want that." ie, this necklace.

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  5. I think this necklace is amazing! I love the combination and arrangement of colors. I have always wanted to do felting...it's on the list...the very long list! What if it were shorter and looked more like a twist on a 50's retro pearl necklace? I really think it's fabulous!

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  6. Great tutorial! I have had felt pillows on the brain for a week or two. Thinking about doing sheets of felt and grommets to come up with something. You've inspired me. I'll have to give it a go! M.

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  7. Wow - thanks for the positive feedback!! I wasn't 100% in love with the finished product. But maybe my wrinkly hands had much to do with that. But now I'm thinkin' maybe it is a-okay. Can't wait to see what felt-y goodness you gals cook up!

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  8. Wow! I'd like to shake that pruney hand for making such a rad necklace. "Human accessories". That made me laugh for some reason!

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  9. Sad day. You might know blogger was down and as a result I lost a bundle of comments. Like almost every comment from this post (except Stephanie's - yay!) Just wanted everyone to know I didn't delete those lovely comments. Keep 'em coming cuz they keep me goin'!!

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  10. I love your necklace and glad you found the tutorial useful.

    Normally I wouldn't run the tap the whole time, just a little here an there. It all got a bit complicated when I was trying to video... it took me about 5-6 takes before I got it right!

    Sara xx

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  11. Happy day. Mystery of mysteries - some comments re-appeared. Oh blogger. Always keepin' us on our toes.

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  12. What an adorable necklace! Love all your stuff! Thanks for reading my blog too :) enjoy yours a ton!!!

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  13. I just used your tutorial for the Felted Wool Billy Buttons and am feeling much more confident in my felting abilities after working on that. I'd like to attempt a project like this necklace sometime in the future. I was wondering what you used to string the felted balls together? Can you share some instructions or tips on that process? Thanks so much!

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  14. Hi CD. I am glad you asked. I will whip up a mini-tutorial on threading beads for necklaces and post within the next week. There are a few different, equally do-able, methods.

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  15. Alrighty - I have a brand new post all about stringing beads to help anyone aspiring to make this necklace. Check it out here:

    http://dans-le-townhouse.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-to-string-beads-plus-diy-bracelet.html

    And please, please, please send me a photo of your finished product - I would love to see!

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  16. Thanks for the tutorial! The necklace looks awesome! and for those who can't wear the wool, wear it under a collar and it would still look great!

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