Felted Rocks!

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter, Grace, and I decided to make little purses.  We wet-felted some merino onto rocks!  It was fun, relatively easy, and the purses came out really cute.

Here are my purses, next to the rocks that I used.  Too bad that I didn't include a measuring device - the blue one is approximately 2.5 inches in diameter, and the green one is approximately 3 by 4 inches.

Here is the other side of the purses.  The blue one is pretty much the same on both sides - the center bead is a little different, but that's all.  The green purse...had a problem.  See how the rock is white?  Well, so was the wool, and I couldn't tell that the wool was REALLY thin in one little spot.  So, I needle felted some colorful yarn over the thin spot.  Where the yarns lie side by side, they are hiding the thin spot.  Hey, it worked!  It might not be terribly attactive, but it worked!  The yarn provides strength to a really weak spot.

If I do this again, I'll either use non-white rocks, or I'll cut the neck out of a balloon, and then stretch the balloon over the rock.  Then, I don't think I'll end up with thin spots.

So, here's how we did it.  We wrapped the rock in saran wrap.  Then, we layered thin whispy bits of merino top this way and that, wetting slightly to get it to all hold together - sort of.  We dabbed a bar of Ivory bath soap here and there, and gently rubbed to get the wispy ends of the fiber to lie down and behave.  The gentle rubbing causes foam to form, and this sort of holds everything together.  We added more fiber, and gently rubbed some more.  The rubbing was more of a turning and turning - like you would do with a bar of soap when you are washing your hands - that around-and-around motion.  

When we were satisfied that we had added enough fiber, we dropped the rock into the toe of a knee high stocking, and sort of twisted the stocking so that the rock was held firmly in the toe of the stocking.  Then, we jiggled it with an orbital sander.  No sandpaper was attached - we just held the rock up to the rubber pad on the orbital sander.  We'd sort of gently rotate the rock while jiggling it, around and around.  It worked great!

After making sure that all parts of the rock had been jiggled, we rinsed the rock and took it out of the stocking to test for felting.  We'd do this by poking (it should feel firm, and not spongy or cushy) and by pulling (no fibers should be able to pull free from the surface).  When we were satisfied with the felting, we rinsed out all of the soap, and then we dunked the rock into a really hot pot of water, and then dunked the rock into a really cold pot of water, and we repeated this a few times.  This finished up the felting process, nicely.

Grace and I did the dyeing parts differently.  I dyed my rock purses by simply heating them up in a pot of koolaid - Lemon Lime for the green purse, and Berry Blue for the blue purse.   I stuck the purse in there, rock and all - I was afraid that if I had cut the rock out, that the cut edges would stretch or something.  Grace cut her rock out, and dyed her purse in Rit.  Her way worked better, as it dyed the felt through and through.  My purses dyed only on the outer surface, which isn't a huge problem, but I think it looks nicer to have the inside dyed, too.  Oh, and her edges stayed nice.

After dyeing, we let the bags dry.  Mine were still on their rocks, so I hung them in net bags so that all sides could dry.

We cut the rocks out by slicing the felt with an Xacto knife.  This was much easier than I had anticipated.  I adjusted the opening so as to receive a zipper - I sort of squared the edges of the slit. 

We sewed in zippers.  The little blue bag has a really old, really soft zipper, and it was very easy to install. 

Sorta looks like a Muppet.

This purse is really small, so I had to cut the zipper.  First, I made sure that the installation was just how I wanted it, then I whipped the zipper closed.  Then, I cut the zipper, and whipped over the edge.

As a finishing touch, I whip stitched the outer edge of the zipper tape to the inside of the bag, just to sort of make it neater on the inside.

This green zipper was so soft, that it followed the curve of the opening without any further work.

However, this pink zipper is rather stiff, so I had to do a little extra work in order to make it lie nicely.

Can you see the whip stitch over the edge?  Now, can you see the running stitch just inside of the whip stitch?    Now, can you see the small vertical slits cut into the zipper tape?  Each running stitch goes over one of the slits.  Can you see them?  This allowed the zipper to curve nicely. 

First, I sewed the zipper into place - I used numerous rounds of whip stitch to hold it into place.  Then, I cut and finished the end of the zipper.

Next, I cut the slits into the zipper tape, and then I ran the running stitch, gently pulling the thread to make the zipper curve.  Then, I knotted the thread, holding the curve into place.  Last, I whipped the edges of the tape into place.  I think that it turned out nicely.

I stuffed the purse with net bags (onion bags) and zipped it closed, and then needle felted the yarn onto the outside of the bag.

Here is Grace's purse.  She added a strap so that she can use it as a shoulder bag.  It is so cute!!!

See how hers is dyed inside and out.  This looks much nicer.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to take a photo of a black hole?

In the photo below, and in the first photo of the black purse - I had to adjust the exposure so that it would show up nicely - in reality, the purse is jet black.  These photos seem to show that the purse has a greyish tinge, but no, that's just the exposure.  The entire purse is like in the photo above - BLACK!

Since she was planning to make a proper purse, she made her felt pretty thick so that it would be durable.  My purses were to be small, "treasure" bags, and I wanted for mine to be pretty thin.

This was a very fun project - and, wow, your hands are never as clean as they are after a wet felting project!!!

(All photos click for big, and click again for even bigger.)



Susan said...

Rosemary, your little rock bags, well, rock! They are enjoying their visit to Scotland. I've used them every day. Love your tutorial, and here's a big mu-a-a-h for my treasured treasure bags. --Susie

fleegle said...

Those are adorable! Nice little change purses. Thanks for the tutorial!

Sara said...

I love them! Especially the black ones!

Jody said...

How original! They are really cute.

a wren's nest said...

Oh my goodness! I've got to make one!

fleegle said...

I stared at your little purses again--I am amazed that you could put in zippers. Zippers defeat me.

I am sorry you had to read the post about the tuxedo. I hope your migraine is all better now.

Rosemary said...

Thanks, everyone, y'all are just too nice!

Susan, I'm so happy to know that the little bags are having a good time in Scotland. I can hardly wait for you to come home and get back to our daily emailings!

Tammy - well, let's get together and make some! We could use the wool from your own sheep!

Fleegle - you know, putting in a zipper is really very easy, especially when the zipper is about 2 inches long, ya know? Certainly much MUCH easier than some of your wacky-insane lace knitting!

Sara and Jody - Thanks! These were lots of fun to make.


Katie K said...

Unbelievably cool!

Acornbud said...

Wow! These are just too cute!