1/30/12

Heart Felt Soaps Tutorial

This is your next stop on the h e A R T f e s t tutorial blog hop with Art Spark! Check the bottom of this post for the rest of the artists/sites so you don't miss a thing. We love LOVE. What can we say?
I have a thing for roving, so I combined this with my thing for SOAP and came up with a new THING! Heart felt soaps are felted wool snuggling a bar of heart-shaped soap. These soaps go right in the shower and the felt acts as a scrubby. Eventually, the soap will be gone and only the heart will remain. Be sure to drip dry your soap between showers. You wouldn't leave your sheep in standing water, so don't leave your felties there either! A nice draining rack is in order.

 Here's how to make your own heart felt soaps.
Get some soap. May I recommend handmade soap? May I suggest that there is no other soap than handmade soap and that if you have not used it, you find some immediately? I've been a soapmaker in my creative journey, and once you've gone to the handmade side, you never go back. If you're going to make this project, don't skimp on the soap! You can find plenty of excellent handcrafted soap on Etsy. Some of the soap above is toooooo pretty for this project, but I love it anyway. Pretty, pretty, handmade soap. Delish.
Next, get some dyed wool roving or felting fiber. Admittedly, I have a large collection of this. If you have a woolery or yarn shop near you, they are a good bet. My local shop, Friends of Wool, sold me "three feet of sheep" in a variety of colors. Neato.
You may want to pick some heart-y colors for a Valentine, or you might want to let all of your colors shine.
You'll want a felting needle or a multi-felter. My favorite is the three-needle one. It's my go-to felter. Finally, you'll need a piece of tulle, netting or pantyhose to wrap the soap in, a bit of foam for a felting base, a cup or bowl of HOT water and either a length of bubble wrap or a bamboo mat or something nubby that you can rub on.
Oh, and a knife. I'm using my Ikea knife because it makes me happy. I like when my objects have names. 
 Time to get to work. Carve a heart. Soap carving is an age-old tradition.
After you carve it, your soap should look something like this. Don't throw the soap shavings away. We'll use them later.
Now carve some more because you're going to want to have more than one!
Pull some tufts of roving and lay them down on the felting foam. I am simply using a square of green cushion foam from the craft shop (thick enough that I don't felt through it with my needles).  
Lay some strips of colorful roving on top of the first layer. It helps if the layers are going in opposite directions. If the first layer is north/south, make the next layer east/west. Lay your soap atop this to see if your square will just wrap around the soap. You want enough to wrap around and slightly overlap.
Begin lightly felting the square so that it holds together. It's not necessary to felt the fluff out of it...but you'll be better off down the line if you start with a square that's felted together. Gently pull the square up from the foam and flip it over so that you can felt from the back.
When you've got a cohesive square of pretty felted roving, wrap it around the soap and hold it in your hand.
Doesn't look like much, does it? But wait!
Place some hot water in a bowl.  Burning your hands will not help anyone, but neither will felting with cold water. Hot I say, or at least really really warm. Dip your fingers into the hot water and dribble some on the felt. Turn it and dribble some more, working the water into the felt to get it wet.
Start rubbing the wet felt with your fingers to get it to hold together around the soap.
Next, wrap the soap up in a piece of tulle (or a nylon or some netting)...like you would wrap up a piece of candy.
Put your wrapped soap on the length of bubblewrap and start rubbing it. Some people use a bamboo mat and some people use a nubby shelf liner. There is no magic here. Just rub the net-wrapped, felted soap on something which will create friction.
Rub rub rub. Turn it every which way and then back again. Rub the top, the bottom and the sides.
Rub inbetween the little heart notch with your fingers. Make sure every part gets rubbed and felted. Add some more hot water as you go. Two things create the magic of felt: hot water and friction. Apply both.
It's starting to look like a heart! You'll see a lot of lather--this is okay. There will be enough soap left when you're done. I promise! At some point your felt will start to hold together but fit the soap like a loose pair of pajamas. Add more hot water and keep felting. Eventually, the pajamas will fit.
When you've rubbed and rubbed all sides, you can remove the netting. Rinse the heart under cold running water and gently squeeze out some of the excess without creating a lather. Your heart should look something like this.
Lay your felted soaps on a towel to air dry. See the sparkly bits in some of them? I added a little angelina fiber mixed in with the roving. 
When the felt is dry but the soap is still somewhat soft, you can add more needle felting with a single needle. Don't try to puncture the soap with a multi-felter. A heavier gauge felting needle will work best. Cover any spots you missed with roving, secure any parts of the felt which are not well attached and add more fun felted features.
Felt straight up and down and push your needle right into the soap. You can make any design you'd like or even add a felted initial. 
Here are my finished heart felt soaps. Fun!
Do not despair about the leftover soap shavings. We can put those to use too. 
Throw the soap bits into a bowl and add some warm water.
Smush them together into a ball and repeat the same process to create a felted cover for your soap ball.
Finish your heart felt soap gifts by making some stitched watercolor tags. Cut some strips of watercolor paper and free-motion stitch a greeting, then cut the strips into tags. Add a splash of watercolor wash and punch a hole. Tie up your soap with twine and add the handmade tags.
Your heart felt soaps are now heartfelt greetings for the ones you love. 

h e A R T f e l t~ Art Spark Valentine Tutorial Blog Hop
1/25/2012 Jane LaFazio Sketchbook page to Valentine Card & Envelope
1/26/2012 Traci Bunkers Printed Heart Ice Cube Tray Backgrounds
1/27/2012 Diana Trout Woven Heart Valentines Card
1/28/2012 Lyric Kinard Lovin' my Thermofax Screens
1/29/2012 Judy Coates Perez  Chocolate Peppermint Cream Heart Cakes
1/30/2012 Kelli Nina Perkins  Heart Felt Soaps
2/1/2012 Tracie Lynn Huskamp  Valentine Message Pillows 


9 comments:

  1. omg, this a fabulous tutorial dear kelli! and your soaps are beautiful. Carving soap! who knew. I thought I had to buy heart shape soap. love this! thanks...

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a great tutorial. And a perfect use for all the little net bags the garlic comes in that I've been saving too!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! This is a super tutorial. It's easy to understand and makes creation of these magical soaps attainable. Loved your pictures, too. They are pure eye candy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This looks so fun and messy - I bet even the boys could get into making these valentines. Thanks for the great tute. Lori W at Art Camp for Women

    ReplyDelete
  5. I might have to do this. I think I even have heart shaped home made soap. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have a bunch of dyed wool roving and I love these! Thanks for another creative idea for me to use up some of my "stuff"! (I know I was keeping it for a reason.) Lorri F at Art Camp for Women

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are really talented! I think I can do this, I also have all the materials as I am a craft assortment horder! I have made soap before but now I want to felt them too! Thanks for sharing these tutorials on your blog!

    Smiles, Cyndi

    ReplyDelete
  8. Excellent Post About Emergency MELTDOWN Generators Shutdown and Perkins Parts.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a wonderful tutorial!! And the pictures, as somebody already said, are pure eye candies!! I have a question that probably might sound stupid....can you actually use these felted soaps as real soaps to use in the bathroom to wash your hands?? Or do you use the soap only to get the heart shape? Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete