In an effort to get ahead of the game, last weekend we sat down as a family for three hours of bonding over soap and wool. Our task: make felt soaps for two custom orders and to prepare stock for the holiday craft shows.
If you’ve never seen felt soap, imagine soap in a sweater; the wool acts as a gentle exfoliant while the soap is kept wrapped in the felt. Every last bit of soap is used up, and you don’t have to do the slippery sliver dance in the shower with the last shreds of the bar. We use pure olive oil soap and various types of dyed wool.
Lance softened the soap in the microwave so the bars would cut nicely. Cold soap crumbles all over the place, especially if you try to cut a large bar. Thirty-five seconds on 50% power warms it just enough to slice like butter.
While he and Owen were busy unwrapping, warming and slicing the bars, I started making piles of roving on the table to create pleasing color combinations. Pretty soon, we realized it was most efficient for me to choose the colors, draft the wool and wrap the bars so Lance and Owen could felt them with the hot, soapy water.
Three hours later, we had a colorful pile of felt soaps in four scents: verbena, green tea, lavender and pure olive oil (unscented). Over the last two days, I’ve sold at least twenty bars, but we still have more of the raw materials so there will be a repeat in our near future.
If you are interested in trying this on your own, remember that not all wools felt equally. If possible, look for wool from corriedale or blue-faced leicester (BFL) sheep. Merino works, but it is more expensive than you need. Romney really doesn’t work well. Our local fiber store sells roving by the ounce that is simply called “NZ Carded Wool”; the breed isn’t specified but it works well.
Sets of three soaps are posted in my etsy shop for $15. I’m also offering workshops at my house or yours where I provide the materials and teach what you need to know for $3/bar. Let’s make some bubbles!