From Roving to Bead – the journey of a felted ball

handmade felt bead on leather chain

handmade felt bead on leather chain

I decided to celebrate my dear friend’s birthday by being courageous and hand making felted beads. I would take the best bead from the bunch and turn it into a necklace for her. I adorned this little red ball with silver seed beads and black crystals to make a pendant. It hangs from a leather cord.

I must admit I was quite nervous to start. Everything I had read about making beads seemed to indicate that at any moment you could roll to hard or squeeze too tight and the ball would be ruined.

My overall experience though was a positive one.  I found them, while time consuming to make, not very difficult and extremely satisfying.  To watch your large fluffy mass of roving shrink down by half and form a solid little jewel is fabulous!

Before you start, gather the following materials

  • wool roving in the color(s) of your choice
  • dish soap
  • crock pot
  • ivory or dove bar of soap
  • nylon knee-hi sock

Step 1) Fill a small crock pot with water and add 1-2 Tbs. of dish detergent. Set the pot on high.

Step2) Choose a wool roving in the color and colors of your choice.  To make balls of the same size, start with similar amounts of loose roving. Tip: separate the strands as much as possible before rolling. This will help the “teeth” of the wool to stick together with greater ease.

Step 3) Gently roll the roving in the palm of your hands for 10 seconds until it loosely forms a ball shape. Repeat this step until you have rolled the number of balls you want to make. Tip: to make “marbled” balls, simply add different colors of roving together during Step 3.

Step 4) Place the loose ball into the soap solution in the pot for a few seconds. Remove the ball and gently roll it in the palm of your hand. When you start rolling the ball, apply a small amount of pressure.  You will need to roll the ball for approximately 5 minutes.As the minutes pass, you can apply slightly more pressure. Tip: If your hands become dry during the rolling process, you can rub the palm of your hands on a bar of ivory soap to lubricate them.

Step 5) Once you have rolled the ball for 5 minutes, place it back in the pot to wait while you repeat step 4 for all the remaining wads of roving. Tip: if your ball has a crack, you can repair it by taking some dry loose roving and laying it across the crack and re-dunking it in the pot. Re-roll the ball in the palm of your hands.

Step 6) After all of your balls are rolled, remove them from the pot and place them in a nylon knee-hi sock or pantyhose and knot it shut. Dry on a high heat setting for 30-40 minutes.

The next time I make some felted balls, I will take photos along the way so that you have visuals to go along with the step by step instructions.

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4 thoughts on “From Roving to Bead – the journey of a felted ball

  1. Love it! At Christmas I made felted soaps that look like beach rocks — so easy, and they look and feel amazing. I’m making more, and I want to try some of these beads as well!

  2. They would also make beautiful buttons for sweaters and emelished “tassels” for knitted items. Do you have charcoal grey? I have a sweater that I’m going to be assembling soon.

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