Making Felted Monsters
In this post I will walk you through the step-by-step process required to make your very own felted rock monster. This is a fun family activity that with a little assistance can even be enjoyed by smaller children.
For many years now I have thought about spending my crafting time working on various felting projects. But somehow I never took action. However, the Annual New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival brought a must try felting project to my attention.
The 4-H volunteers at the festival hosted a great, hands on introduction to “Felted Rock Monsters”. My husband, my kids and I all really enjoyed the project. Therefore, during a weekend get together with two other couples and their children, we decided to make our own batch of felted monsters as an after nap activity. During this weekend felting activity we paired each of the six children with one parent. Everyone had a great time completing the project in the warm May sunshine, and each child finished the weekend with a great, new, all natural toy. In fact, most of the kids demanded to sleep with their new monsters. As a result, some of the mothers had to steal the felted toy from their child’s bed so that they could finish embellishing their monster while sipping wine and chatting with the other adults!
I decided to provide two sets of instructions for the felted rock monsters, one written set and one video based set. A link to my YouTube video for Felted Rock Monsters is here, or read below for written instructions. But remember, a picture says 1000 words!
For felting supplies I suggest that you visit your local knitting store. As an option, you could Google search for “needle felting supplies” or “wool roving supplies” in your area. If all else fails then I found a site, The Felted Ewe, that appears to be a great source of supplies. I have no affiliation with this store and I have not purchased felting supplies from them. However, they look like a solid operation.
- Smooth rock (about the size of an adult fist, in any shape), rocks found at the beach or in a river are perfect.
- Wool roving, in many colors.
- Felting needle (these are special needles that have burs along the edges that help to tangle the wool fibers, thereby making felt).
- Footed end of a pair of stockings / hose. Regular old panty hose work just fine.
- High density foam (~1.5″ thick). You can see me using a typical piece of this foam in the last picture in this post.
- Tub or bucket of warm water, with a little dish or laundry soap stirred into the water. Do not put in too much soap, or else you will wind up excessively rinsing your felted monster. Too much soap is not a real problem, it just means that you will have a lot of rinsing to do!
- Liquid soap
1) Start with an even strip of roving and tightly wrap the roving around the rock. You should use multiple strips of roving and wrap each piece around the rock. The pieces should be separated from the ball of roving by pulling apart the roving with your hands. Do not use scissors when separating strips of roving from the large ball. As you wrap the rock, wrap your first strip of roving in the horizontal direction. Then wrap the next strip in the vertical direction. And then wrap the next strip in a diagonal direction. Continue alternating wrapping directions until you cannot see any bare portions of the rock and until you are pleased with the thickness of the roving.
2) Repeat step one until you have three or four thin, even, tight layers around the rock. I suggest wrapping the rock with 2 different colors of roving, and each color should form a continuous layer of roving around the rock. The first color used will be the color of the inside of the finished monster’s mouth. The second color used will be the color of the monster’s face and body. As a note, you are finished wrapping when the rock is wrapped in a thin, even layer of roving. The final thickness of all roving should be at least as thick as a pencil and should not exceed a half an inch as the rock rests in your hands.
3) Place the covered rock in the footed end of a pair of stockings or panty hose.
4) Dunk the stocking covered rock into the soapy water. Massage and wring out the roving on the rock repeatedly, keeping the rock in the stocking while you massage the rock. Continue massaging the rock and agitating the roving fibers until they are thoroughly tangled. It is not a problem to pull back the stocking to check your progress. I suggest that you massage the rock for 3-5 minutes until the roving takes on the appearance of felt. Note that in the image below there are 2 rocks in the water, but I am only massaging one rock with my hands.
5) Wring as much water out of the roving as possible, then remove the stocking.
6) Decide where you would like to place the mouth and cut an opening. The opening must be large enough such that the widest section of the rock can pass through the opening without tearing the corners of the wool.
7) Pull the rock out of the wool roving (as shown in the image below). Cut a piece of foam about the size of the rock and place it inside the rock monster’s mouth to add shape and structure to the body. Adding this foam makes the needle felting activity more effective and efficient.
8 ) Now you are ready to embellish your monster with two dimensional details. Roving can be placed direcly on the monster to add designs or to change the color of the monster’s head or body. To secure the new pieces of roving to the body, simply place the roving where you want it and then stab repeatedly with the felting needle through the roving and the monster. The burs on the needle will push and pull the fibers in each piece of roving, mixing and securing the two pieces together. In the uppermost image in this post you can see “zebra stripes” on the lowest rock monster. These were added using the technique mentioned above. In this example the zebra stripes were needled over and over again until they were very well secured to this monster. If you are working with smaller children please take care with the felting needles as they are sharp and do break if bent.
9) Add three-dimensional details as desired. Before attaching ears, tails or other long appendages to your monster you should shape these appendages on a separate piece of foam with the needle felting needle. Shaping them basically involves forming the roving into the desired shape and then passing the needle through the shape repeatedly, until the roving takes on the texture of felt. When you are shaping the appendages leave an unfelted section on the end. This section can then be attached to your monster by stabbing it with the felting needle – making sure that the needle passes through the appendage and through the body of the monster in a single stroke. For additional security you can also wrap pieces of raw roving around the base of the newly added appendage and use the needle to secure the roving to it and the monster – again making sure that the needle passes through both the new roving and the body of the monster.
Parents and kids alike had a real blast while making these monsters. You can see the fruits of our labor in the uppermost image in this post. I highly suggest that you try this activity on your own, and then employ it as a means of entertaining guests during a party with family and friends. The options for creative design are endless with this activity (note the braided tail in the lowermost monster in the 1st image in this post!) and you can embellish your monster with loads of detail if you want to create a truly cool and exceptional gift for someone special in your life.