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How to make felt beads, using a wet felting technique

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Felting is an age old traditional craft, which has become increasingly popular in recent times. This article will give you step by step instructions on how to create your own felt beads jewellery making.
What you'll need: 
Wool tops of different colours (Merino wool is best)
Soap (ordinary liquid hand soap will suffice)
Hot water (as hot as your hand can bear)
A tray to catch drips
Needle and cotton for threading beads
A jug of cold water
Jewellery "foundings", e.g. loops and hooks for creating a joining point for your necklace
Take a small amount of felt top (approximately 15 cm long by 3 cm wide to create a 3cm diameter bead) and tease it gently to loosen the fibres. If you use a couple of different colours, this will create a lovely marbled effect.
Gently roll the wool into a ball between your palms - hardly apply any pressure at this stage.
Add a couple of drops of soap and a dribble of hot water - the hotter the better - then begin rolling the wet, soapy wool into a ball.
Apply increasing amounts of pressure and a rolling motion between your palms, until the ball has shrunk considerably and gives very little resistance when squeezed between finger and thumb.
Rinse the bead in clean, hot water.
Plunged immediately into cold water to "shock" the bead and ensure the bead is rinsed properly.
Allow your beads to dry at room temperature for a couple of days.
Repeat steps 1-7 to create as many beads as you require. 20-30 should create an average sized necklace.
Once dry your beads can be used for your desired purpose. For example, you could thread the beads using a needle and cotton, to create a necklace.
Use hot water, which is as hot as your hand can bear
Wool tops can be purchased from Amazon, Ebay and all good craft/haberdashery shops
Ordinary liquid handsoap can be used, but washing up liquid or olive soap flakes which have been diluted are equally effective
To create a ready-made hole for threading, beads can be skewered onto a cocktail stick before leaving them to dry
Elongated beads can be created in the same way but by rolling back and forth between the palms
Add a small amount of cold water to boiled water to reduce the risk of scalding
If you are carrying out this activity with children, ensure that the hot water is kept well away from them to prevent scalding
Take care to avoid pricking your finger when using needles


What is a wool top?

What is a wool top and can you add pictures of each stage. I am a visual learner! :)

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