Wet and needlefelting are not so different; in both cases you’re tangling up fluffy wooly fibres so they form a more solid material: felt.
Wet felting turns wool roving into felt through friction and pressure, a change in temperature (using hot/cold water), and soap. If you’d like to try wet felting, this is a good project to try it on a very small scale. You’re just making a little ball, but by sticking an acorn cap on it, it gets a whole new personality!
Felted soaps use the same wetfelting principles as this, and would make a great next project!
How to Make a Wetfelted Acorn
A small container of warm soapy water. Use about 1 cup of water and a generous squirt of dish soap, enough to make the water visibly soapy.
A small container of vinegar water. Use about 1/4 cup vinegar to 4 cups of water (or 1/8 cup to 2 cups of water).
An acorn cap. This is a good use for caps left over from making your own acorn ink. There are lots on the ground in the late autumn, once the chipmunks have eaten the good stuff.
1. Take a piece of roving that’s big enough that when you ball and squish it up in your fingers, it’s about the size of the acorn you want to make. (You’ll only need 1-2g.) All wet-felting will do is compress the fibres, so this is about the size it will be when you’re finished.
2. Divide this amount of wool roving in half.
3. Take one of your two pieces of wool and roll it up into a ball shape. Just roughly, enough to get you started.
4. Dip this rough ball into the soapy water and squeeze it a few times until it is thoroughly wet and soapy. Squeeze out extra water.
5. Take the second piece of wool and wrap it around your soapy first piece, keeping it in a rough ball shape.
6. Dip your rough wool ball into the soapy water to get it wet all over. Gently squeeze and shape it with your fingertips, continuing to form it as a ball. Do this for a couple of minutes, until it starts to hold together in a pretty consistent loose ball shape.
7. Place the ball in the centre of your palms, and roll it as if it were a ball of clay. Start gently, and apply more pressure as it gets firmer. Every once in awhile dip it back into the soapy water.
8. The ball will get firmer and firmer as you work it. Once you have it the way you like it, rinse and squeeze it under hot water.
9. Dip the finished ball in a vinegar bath. This will neutralize any soap that’s left in the wool.
10. Leave to dry completely. At this point any small stray fibres sticking out can be trimmed off with scissors for a cleaner look.
11. Hot glue an acorn cap to the top. Enjoy!
Recommended Reading for wet-felting, wearable objects, and dyeing: “Fabulous Felted Scarves: 20 Wearable Works of Art” by Chad Alice Hagen & Jorie Johnson.