For my sister-in-laws bridal shower I decided to make felted soap and package it with my friends natural beeswax candles (http://www.cambridgecandles.com/) for the gifts. I know there are a lot of people out there that make felted soap but I wanted to share a little bit about how I was taught and how I made these.
I start out with Falkland wool roving. The soap was a lavender sage organic soap so I wanted to dye the roving to match.
First I soaked the roving in hot water with citric acid crystals and synthrapol. You can also just use citric acid and vinegar (personally I like the smell of lemon juice the best.) This soak will help the fiber absorb and set the dye so it holds and doesn't fade or bleed.
I mixed two Pro Chemical dyes up in plastic squirt bottles and put to the side.
Next I laid out the wet roving on plastic.
I then used the squirt bottles to place the dye where I wanted it. This is the creative part!
After I was happy with the colors I placed the wool in the crock pot that has been heated up (on high) with hot water and lemon juice in it.
After the water runs clear in the crock pot, I took the roving out and placed it in warm water to rinse. I know its tempting but don't touch the roving or it will felt.
After I let it soak in the water for about 20 min I set it aside to dry for the night.
Next is the soap felting process.
First start by pulling apart your roving and making piles of the fiber. I make it just a little wider then the soap and longer enough so the soap can be wrapped and have a little extra.
Make about 4 to 5 layers depending on the fiber and how dense it is. With the first layer I aways go vertical then I switch the fibers to go horizontal (shorter) as seen in the picture.
Next lay down your soap (the soap should be little wet with some bubbles first.) Keep a little fiber on the bottom like the picture illustrates.
Next, wrap your soap up making sure you cover the sides as you do it.
Then just go slow and use hot water then cold water. Do not try to felt it too fast or you will get ridges. Also be careful of the corners because if you do not have enough fiber they will poke through.
Start by slowly and softly moving the soap in both hands, as the felting progresses, apply more pressure.
The hot water opens the follicles of the fiber up and the cold closes them. The soap acts as an irritant to the fiber. You will notice that when you use cold your fiber will become hard. I always end with the cold water.
I think felted soaps make a great, unique gift!