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How to Make Wet Felted Fish in a Tumble Dryer.
Close up of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish
Full length image of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish
A Shoal of 'Gobby' Fish
Things You Need to Complete This Felting Project-
- 1 - 10 . Small round ones work best. Party balloons
- Waste Merino wool fibres or Wool Roving/Tops which can be purchased especially for this project
- Wooden wool carders (only necessary if you are blending your own waste fibres)
- Hot Soapy Water (Grated Olive oil soap mixed with hot water which is much kinder to the hands)
- A spray bottle
- Used tights or stockings
- A Tumble Dryer
- 1 Small sheet of bubble-wrap
- A pair of sharp scissors
For the Decoration
- Embroidery threads in matching or contrasting colours for sewing on the buttons.
- Small quantity of white roving which will be used for needle felting the whites of the eyes
- Needle felting needles plus needle felting tool.
- Needles in various sizes for sewing the lips, eyes, and fins
- Buttons for the eyes.
- Knitting yarn for the 'Gobby' fish fins
Manos Uruguay (The hands of Uruguay) is a non-profit organization which assembles over 400 artisans in cooperatives scattered throughout the countryside of Uruguay. The aim of the organization is to bring economic and social opportunities to rural women.
Manos silk blend is a luxurious blend of merino and silk. Hand dyed in large kettles to create a marbleized subtly striated effect that forms a rich palette of glorious colours which were perfect for the hair on these fish. No two skeins are exactly alike and there are no dye lots so you may have to choose your own particular blend from an image.
Close up Image of a 'Gobby' the Felt Fish
Merino Wool Waste Fibres Suitable for Wet Felting
Begin by preparing the waste merino fibers. Combine the colors of your choice and blend using a wool carder or use merino wool roving which has been purchased especially for wet felting.
Wool Carders and Waste Merino Fibres
Blend the Waste Merino Fibres together
Blend the woollen fibres together as desired and then carefully extract the blended fibres from the brushes. I use a long knitting needle.
The Combed and Blended Waste Woolen Fibres on the Brushes.
Getting the Little Pods the Right Size for This Project
2 Polystyrene Balls/A Simple Way to Get the Size Right!
On the image shown above, there are 2 polystyrene balls. The party balloons used for this project should be blown up to match the diameter of the larger one shown here.
The circumference of the ball to the left measures 10 inches (25cm)
The circumference of the one on the right measures 9 inches (22cm)
On completion of the felting process, the resulting felt pod should match the dimension of the smaller ball.
You may wish to simply measure the balloon without having an example to hand.
Remember that shrinkage is likely to be around 30%. If you would like to make large fish, blow the balloons up to the required size.
A Note on Using Balloons in a Tumble Dryer.
Always add a little water to the bowl of the balloon before inflating them if you use them for felting in a Tumble Dryer. Heat expands the air inside the balloons but without the water, the balloons will soon find a way to escape from the fibers which cover them. Inevitably this will enlarge the opening which is something you do not want to happen.
Allow the fibers to felt right up to the knot on the balloon.
Tie a Strip of Bubble-Wrap into Each Knot to Facilitate Easy Opening of the Balloon
Matching Size with Size!
Spray or Dunk the Balloon into a Bowl of Warm Soapy Water
Covering the Balloon with 1 Layer of Combed Waste Fibres
Gently Roll the Wet Fibres on the Bubble-Wrap
Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd Layer of Fibres
Once the 1st layer has been covered, continue adding the 2nd layer and then the 3rd layer of fibers until they are smooth but not are as yet, not felted.
1 Fiber Covered Ball, a Polystyrene Ball and Several Water/Air Filled Balloons Waiting to Be Covered
Fibre Covered Balloon Has Now Increased in Size
Save Time and Energy Costs
Making things in bulk or in groups not only saves time but keeps energy costs down to a minimum. Felting by hand will take much longer but it is possible, especially if you are only making one frog at a time. However, felt which is made in a tumble dryer, will keep its shape much better and feel much firmer.
A Group of Fibre Covered Balloons
Place the Fibre Covered Balloons into Cut off Tights or Stockings
All Knotted and Ready to Go into the Tumble Dryer
Place the Fibre Covered Balls into the Tumble Dryer
Allow the balls to toss and tumble in the dryer. Keep checking the contents to make sure the wool does not attach itself to the stockings. Once felted, remove the stockings and release a little of the air, leave a space around the balloon to allow for further shrinkage.
Put back into the tumble dryer, this time without the stockings and allow the felt to shrink back further until the fibers are once again touching the balloon.
Releasing a Small Quantity of the Air
Knot the Balloon
There Is No Need to Put the Balloons into the Stockings
Simply put the balloons back into the tumble dryer and continue felting until the felt has shrunk tightly against the balloons.
Cut the Knot and Release the Water Through the Hole
Cut Across the Opening
Cut across the opening as shown in the image below. Allow to dry thoroughly and continue assembling the felt fish.
Felt Pods Ready to Be Made into 'Gobby' Felt Fish
How to complete the Fish
- Needle felt two circular shapes using the white wool roving and use a needle felting tool for making the eyes.
- Neatly sew on 2 buttons for the eyes.
- Blanket stitch around the face of the fish as shown here.
- Cut off lengths of the wool and using a large eyed needle sew on the side and back fins. Stitch between the thick layer of felt rather than leave a mess inside the fish mouth. Add a little feathery wool such as mohair wool which will give the fish the appearance of movement.
- Tie bows around the strands of wool or add just tie them off so that little fingers cannot pull them from the body of the fish.
- Knot a length of wool and secure one fin with a couple of knots or bows.
- Secure a length of wool to the body of the fish so that it can hang somewhere securely. The knot should be tied securely inside the body of the fish.
Detail of One of the Completed 'Gobby' Felt Fish
Hang the fish
The fish can be used up in groups or alone. It makes a very decorative mobile hanging for both adults or child.
These fish are extremely decorative and the mouth of the fish can even be used as a secret place to hide away little trinkets or gifts from prying eyes.
Side View of the Wet Felted Fish
There Are Multiple Uses for These Felt Vessels, Explore Different Options for Creating Different Objects.
- Wet Felted Coin Purses / Easy / Tumble Dryer Method / Free Wet Felting Tutorial
Waste Merino wool roving, party balloons and a tumble dryer were used to create these wet felted coin purses. Waste pieces of recycled merino wool were blended together to make these cute purses.
Wet felting with Party Balloons and a Tumble Dryer
Would you like to see more Tutorials like this?
How to Wet Felt a Pair of Booties
© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen