Roly-poly Beads

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Roly-poly Beads

If you can roll play dough into a ball, you can make a bead by wet-felting wool batting or roving. (Both are combed wool fibers available at yarn and craft stores, but roving comes in a thick cord.) It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the fibers to slowly tangle and shrink into a solid, tight ball. For a quick project, use one ball as the star bead of your bracelet, and use more conventional baubles for the rest.

What you'll need

  • Wool roving or batting
  • Dish soap
  • Embroidery needle
  • Beading cord (we used Stretch Magic)

How to make it

  1. To start, pull out a small tuft of wool roving or batting, about the size of a dollar bill, and roll it tightly into a ball. Wrap it with thin layers of wool, crisscrossing each layer, until the ball is about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. (After felting, this ball will be about 1/2 inch wide.)

  2. Mix a couple of drops of dish soap into 2 cups of very hot tap water. Use a spoon to dip the wool ball into the hot water, until it is saturated (A).

  3. Wait a few seconds for the wool to cool, then, working over a sink or bowl, begin gently rolling the ball between the palms of your hands. Keep the pressure light: imagine the ball is a fragile egg. (If you press too hard, the surface will wrinkle.) After a minute or two, the wool will start to form a skin. Start slowly increasing the pressure as you roll the ball (B), occasionally dipping it back into the hot, soapy water. You'll know the ball is completely felted when you pinch it and it has hardly any give. Rinse the ball in cold water, then squeeze it in a towel. Set it aside to dry.

  4. To make a bracelet, use a sharp embroidery needle to thread wool balls and small beads onto beading cord.

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