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How to Make Wet Felted Fish in a Tumble Dryer

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental and always interesting.

Close up of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

Close up image of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

Close up image of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

Full length image of 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

Full length image of 'Gobby' the felt fish

Full length image of 'Gobby' the felt fish

A Shoal of 'Gobby' Fish

What a lot of fishy 'Gobs'

What a lot of fishy 'Gobs'

Things You Need to Complete This Felting Project-

  • 1 - 10 Party balloons. Small round ones work best.
  • Waste Merino wool fibres or Wool Roving/Tops which can be purchased especially for this project
  • Wooden wool carders (only necessary if you are blending your own waste fibres)
  • Hot Soapy Water (Grated Olive oil soap mixed with hot water which is much kinder to the hands)
  • A spray bottle
  • Used tights or stockings
  • A Tumble Dryer
  • 1 Small sheet of bubble-wrap
  1. A pair of sharp scissors


For the Decoration


  • Embroidery threads in matching or contrasting colours for sewing on the buttons.
  • Small quantity of white roving which will be used for needle felting the whites of the eyes
  • Needle felting needles plus needle felting tool.
  • Needles in various sizes for sewing the lips, eyes, and fins
  • Buttons for the eyes.
  • Knitting yarn for the 'Gobby' fish fins


I used a large skein of silk and wool mix) (Manos Silk Blend) made in Uruguay along with some waste Mohair yarn to add a feathery look to the fins. The colour I used was called Lava.

Manos Uruguay (The hands of Uruguay) is a non-profit organization which assembles over 400 artisans in cooperatives scattered throughout the countryside of Uruguay. The aim of the organization is to bring economic and social opportunities to rural women.

Manos silk blend is a luxurious blend of merino and silk. Hand dyed in large kettles to create a marbleized subtly striated effect that forms a rich palette of glorious colours which were perfect for the hair on these fish. No two skeins are exactly alike and there are no dye lots so you may have to choose your own particular blend from an image.


Close up Image of a 'Gobby' the Felt Fish

'Gobby' the felt fish

'Gobby' the felt fish

Merino Wool Waste Fibres Suitable for Wet Felting

A quantity merino wool waste wool fibres

A quantity merino wool waste wool fibres

Getting Started!

Begin by preparing the waste merino fibers. Combine the colors of your choice and blend using a wool carder or use merino wool roving which has been purchased especially for wet felting.

Wool Carders and Waste Merino Fibres

A close up of the wool carding brushes

A close up of the wool carding brushes

Blend the Waste Merino Fibres together

Blend the woollen fibres together as desired and then carefully extract the blended fibres from the brushes. I use a long knitting needle.



The Combed and Blended Waste Woolen Fibres on the Brushes.

Blending the waste fibres together.

Blending the waste fibres together.

Getting the Little Pods the Right Size for This Project

One medium size polystyrene ball and one which is slightly smaller, around 30 percent smaller is ideal.

One medium size polystyrene ball and one which is slightly smaller, around 30 percent smaller is ideal.

2 Polystyrene Balls/A Simple Way to Get the Size Right!

On the image shown above, there are 2 polystyrene balls. The party balloons used for this project should be blown up to match the diameter of the larger one shown here.

The circumference of the ball to the left measures 10 inches (25cm)

The circumference of the one on the right measures 9 inches (22cm)

On completion of the felting process, the resulting felt pod should match the dimension of the smaller ball.

You may wish to simply measure the balloon without having an example to hand.

Remember that shrinkage is likely to be around 30%. If you would like to make large fish, blow the balloons up to the required size.

Tie a Strip of Bubble-Wrap into Each Knot to Facilitate Easy Opening of the Balloon

Tie a strip of bubble-wrap into the knot for easier opening.

Tie a strip of bubble-wrap into the knot for easier opening.

Matching Size with Size!

Checking the proportions of the balloon against the polystyrene ball.

Checking the proportions of the balloon against the polystyrene ball.

Spray or Dunk the Balloon into a Bowl of Warm Soapy Water

wet-felted-coin-purses-easy-tumble-dryer-method-make-multiple-items-fast

Covering the Balloon with 1 Layer of Combed Waste Fibres

Covering the balloon with waste fibers.

Covering the balloon with waste fibers.

Gently Roll the Wet Fibres on the Bubble-Wrap

Rolling the wet fibres so that they fit snugly around the balloon

Rolling the wet fibres so that they fit snugly around the balloon

Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd Layer of Fibres

Once the 1st layer has been covered, continue adding the 2nd layer and then the 3rd layer of fibers until they are smooth but not are as yet, not felted.

1 Fiber Covered Ball, a Polystyrene Ball and Several Water/Air Filled Balloons Waiting to Be Covered

Covering the balloons with fiber

Covering the balloons with fiber

Fibre Covered Balloon Has Now Increased in Size

easy-tumble-dryer-feltinghow-to-make-gobby-felt-fish

A Group of Fibre Covered Balloons

Fibre covered balloons

Fibre covered balloons

Place the Fibre Covered Balloons into Cut off Tights or Stockings

Fibre covered balloons inside the cut off stockings.

Fibre covered balloons inside the cut off stockings.

All Knotted and Ready to Go into the Tumble Dryer

Ready for the tumble dryer

Ready for the tumble dryer

Place the Fibre Covered Balls into the Tumble Dryer

Allow the balls to toss and tumble in the dryer. Keep checking the contents to make sure the wool does not attach itself to the stockings. Once felted, remove the stockings and release a little of the air, leave a space around the balloon to allow for further shrinkage.

Put back into the tumble dryer, this time without the stockings and allow the felt to shrink back further until the fibers are once again touching the balloon.

Releasing a Small Quantity of the Air

Releasing a small quantity of air.

Releasing a small quantity of air.

Knot the Balloon

Retie the balloon.

Retie the balloon.

Cut the Knot and Release the Water Through the Hole

Cutting the knot and releasing the water.

Cutting the knot and releasing the water.

Cut Across the Opening

Cut across the opening as shown in the image below. Allow to dry thoroughly and continue assembling the felt fish.

Felt Pods Ready to Be Made into 'Gobby' Felt Fish

Felt vessels ready to make into 'Gobby' felt fish

Felt vessels ready to make into 'Gobby' felt fish

How to complete the Fish

  • Needle felt two circular shapes using the white wool roving and use a needle felting tool for making the eyes.
  • Neatly sew on 2 buttons for the eyes.
  • Blanket stitch around the face of the fish as shown here.
  • Cut off lengths of the wool and using a large eyed needle sew on the side and back fins. Stitch between the thick layer of felt rather than leave a mess inside the fish mouth. Add a little feathery wool such as mohair wool which will give the fish the appearance of movement.
  • Tie bows around the strands of wool or add just tie them off so that little fingers cannot pull them from the body of the fish.
  • Knot a length of wool and secure one fin with a couple of knots or bows.
  • Secure a length of wool to the body of the fish so that it can hang somewhere securely. The knot should be tied securely inside the body of the fish.


Detail of One of the Completed 'Gobby' Felt Fish

Looking at the detail of a felt fish

Looking at the detail of a felt fish

Hang the fish

The fish can be used up in groups or alone. It makes a very decorative mobile hanging for both adults or child.

These fish are extremely decorative and the mouth of the fish can even be used as a secret place to hide away little trinkets or gifts from prying eyes.

Side View of the Wet Felted Fish

Side view of the wet felted fish

Side view of the wet felted fish

There Are Multiple Uses for These Felt Vessels, Explore Different Options for Creating Different Objects.

Wet felting with Party Balloons and a Tumble Dryer

How to Wet Felt a Pair of Booties

© 2016 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on September 28, 2016:

kenneth avery

You can find a list of all the staff on HP and I am not one of them:) Thanks for stopping by to comment Kenneth. It is appreciated. I hope your grandchildren enjoy this project.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on September 28, 2016:

sallybea,

Yep. It's me. Sorry for taking so long in getting around to your works. This hub makes me glad that you are not only following me, but a talented person who has so much talent.

I have two granddaughters who love crafts and do-it-yourself kits they can work on at their home.

And this one fits the bill. Thanks.

Shared this with my other followers.

Peace. Keep up the great work, sallybea.

And all of this time I thought you were an editor at HP. You could be with no problem.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on September 26, 2016:

vespawoolf

I am sure that carded wool sheep would work perfectly, even raw wool if you wanted to try some. You could use the same principal and make some tiny coin purses or even large bags the same way. I hope you have a go sometime. I would love to hear how you get on.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 26, 2016:

These are adorable fish and this is a well-written and instructive article. I wonder if I can find this type of wool in Peru? I know they hand-card sheep's wool in the country towns before spinning it into yarn. It would be fun and rewarding project.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 03, 2016:

FlourishAnyway

Now there is an interesting idea! Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is much appreciated as always.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 03, 2016:

Hobby is adorable and demands a series of creative stories to bring him/her to life.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 11, 2016:

Stacy Birch

Thank you, I loved making my school of Gobby Felt Fish.

Stacy Birch on April 11, 2016:

Really cool looking stuff.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 15, 2016:

Kristen Howe

Glad you liked Gobby the felt fish. I appreciate your visit and comment, thank you.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 15, 2016:

Sally, that gobby fish made out of felt is pretty darn cute and cool, too. This is another great idea for your felt craft hubs. Bravo!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on March 10, 2016:

Hi Dave

Glad you liked 'Goby' my felt fish.

I am so looking forward to going down to the river with my camera though things have been so dull and wet for so long, even the daffodils are asking what they have done to deserve the no 'Spring' weather. It seems that as soon as their petals are open the wet comes and ruins their appearance. Mind you the little birds have decided that rain or sunshine they are going to make an attempt to nest and bring up a new generation.

I hope you are well and looking forward to the warmer weather as I am. I appreciate your visit as always. Thank you.

Sally.

Dave from Lancashire north west England on March 10, 2016:

Hi Sally, I am always amazed at the way you create things and I admire especially the way you create your hubs. I am unlikely ever to make one of your great 'Gobby' fish {love that name}. If only everything on the net was explained so wonderfully life would be a lot easier for all. Amazing hub. Well done.

Ps, the weather should improve now and you can get down to the river with your camera..

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 15, 2016:

Hi Devika,

Glad you like my whimsical fish, thanks for taking time to comment on this hub.

Sally

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 15, 2016:

So lovely! A beautiful color and you shared a useful hub.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 12, 2016:

MsFora.

Yes, I think the wool is gorgeous, definitely fits the brief for the fins and I am all for helping people help who want to better themselves.

I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 12, 2016:

Impressed that you intentionally want to help the Uruguay women by purchasing their wool. Now your product have physical as well as social and emotional beauty. Good job!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 10, 2016:

Aawww, way to cute a comment, thank you, Billy, I figure I will expose that crafty bone one day. Hope you are having a great week Billy

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 10, 2016:

I was laughing when I saw the phrase "felt fish." It tickled my funny bone...then I saw the pictures and I said "awwww"....way too cute, Sally! That's the kind of thing I would make if I had a crafty bone in my body, which I don't. :)

Have a stupendous rest of the week, my friend.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 10, 2016:

purl3agony

Glad you enjoyed it Donna, thanks for taking the time to comment.

Sally

Donna Herron from USA on February 10, 2016:

So cute and creative! I, of course, love the yarn for the fins. Thanks for sharing another great project and tutorial!

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