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How to Wet Felt a Bird Pod using Merino Wool Fibers - A Free Tutorial

Updated on December 18, 2015
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Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker. Her tutorials & techniques are as individual as she is, unique, experimental and always interesting

An example of a wet felted bird pod which I made last Summer and which still hangs in my garden today.

Beautiful wet felted bird pod
Beautiful wet felted bird pod | Source

This photo tutorial shows you how to create a wet-felted bird pod on a balloon

A great hand crafted project for you and the children to make as a gift or just simply for the fun of it. Why not add a little bird food to your gift and make someone feel really special!

Perhaps a little' feathered friend' will take shelter there this Summer! Another fun little idea might get the children to paint a little wooden board which says:-

'Vacant Pod - one feathered occupant wanted - just as soon as possible please!'

Please send me your images if you decide to tackle this project. I would love to share your images and comments regarding felting in my next blog.

This is a group of bird pods I made last Summer

Bird pods can make such decorative items - can be used inside or outside
Bird pods can make such decorative items - can be used inside or outside | Source

Things you will need before you can begin

Wool Roving or Wool Tops,(Available on e-bay, Amazon or Wingham Wool) Bubble Wrap, A 'Gertie' ball or alternatively a Party Balloon. Old Towels to catch the drips, a kettle and a bowl for boiling water, Dish Washing Liquid and a Sponge. Scraps dyed wool or silk for decoration, Tumble Drier


Balloon or a 'Gertie' ball ?

 I prefer using a balloon as it is cheap and cheerful.  It is also very easy to extract the balloon from the felted ball once it has felted.
I prefer using a balloon as it is cheap and cheerful. It is also very easy to extract the balloon from the felted ball once it has felted. | Source

Add a little water to your balloon

Add a little water from the kitchen tap, about quarter full.  Blow it up as normal.
Add a little water from the kitchen tap, about quarter full. Blow it up as normal. | Source

Template plus ball or balloon

Cut a circle out of bubble wrap.   The diameter  should be sufficient to enable you to wrap the ball up in the bubble wrap with the end open,  just short of the valve or knot in the balloon, Place on a towel or alternatively some bubble wrap,
Cut a circle out of bubble wrap. The diameter should be sufficient to enable you to wrap the ball up in the bubble wrap with the end open, just short of the valve or knot in the balloon, Place on a towel or alternatively some bubble wrap, | Source

A few more things you will be needing

Piece of odd Curtain Net for coveri the project before wetting it down with hot soapy water.  Sponge for damping it down and some 'Fairy' liquid.  Not too much.  A little goes a long way!
Piece of odd Curtain Net for coveri the project before wetting it down with hot soapy water. Sponge for damping it down and some 'Fairy' liquid. Not too much. A little goes a long way! | Source

Your Choice - A balloon or a Gertie Ball!

Not much in it except the price! . A 'Gertie' ball is re-usable and will not need to be filled with water..

I add some water to the balloon, it adds a little weight to the balloon before I blow it up. The water in the balloon also seems to assist the felt making process whilst the pod is in the tumble drier.

A small piece of cloth inserted within the knot assists me to open the knot when I want to reduce the size of the balloon inside the pod.. Doing it this way lets the pod shrink back a little more when you put it back into the tumble dryer.

Inflated ballon with water inside it

This is what your inflated balloon will look like when you tie a little piece of fabric in the knot.
This is what your inflated balloon will look like when you tie a little piece of fabric in the knot. | Source

This is what merino wool roving looks like.

Your wool roving or tops will look similar to this.  Buy roving or tops which is specifically meant to be used for felting.
Your wool roving or tops will look similar to this. Buy roving or tops which is specifically meant to be used for felting. | Source

Close-up of the merino wool fibers

Here is a close-up of my wool Roving.  This batch is fairly thick so I split it as I work with it.
Here is a close-up of my wool Roving. This batch is fairly thick so I split it as I work with it. | Source

Split the width if is makes it easier to work with

You may want to split your roving to make it easier to pluck the fibre from the roving when you make your layers
You may want to split your roving to make it easier to pluck the fibre from the roving when you make your layers | Source

Begin by placing the slivers of wool on the template

Begin by layering the fibers over a circular piece of bubble wrap.
Begin by layering the fibers over a circular piece of bubble wrap. | Source

One layer has now been completed

Arrow shows the direction in which the small pieces of roving should be placed. Try to space them  evenly  without leaving any gaps.  Gaps mean thin spots in your finished pod.
Arrow shows the direction in which the small pieces of roving should be placed. Try to space them evenly without leaving any gaps. Gaps mean thin spots in your finished pod. | Source

Lay the next layer at 90 degrees to the first later

Layer two - fibers have been put down at 90 degrees to the first layer.
Layer two - fibers have been put down at 90 degrees to the first layer. | Source

Layer three

Layer three - laid in opposite direction whilst trying to make it as even as possible.  If you have any thin spots top them up a little.  Felting is not an exact science, there is no wrong way, experiment and enjoy it.   It can be very forgiving.
Layer three - laid in opposite direction whilst trying to make it as even as possible. If you have any thin spots top them up a little. Felting is not an exact science, there is no wrong way, experiment and enjoy it. It can be very forgiving. | Source

Decorating the bird pod

This where the fun starts.   Time to get creative and add some decoration to your bird pod
This where the fun starts. Time to get creative and add some decoration to your bird pod | Source

Close-up of the decoration

Close-up of the decoration.  Use natural fibers such as wool, cotton or silk.
Close-up of the decoration. Use natural fibers such as wool, cotton or silk. | Source

Boiling water, sponge & a dash of dish washing liquid

Prepare a bowl of boiling water with a dash of dish washing liquid in it.  Not too much, a little goes a long way!  Take care not to burn yourself.
Prepare a bowl of boiling water with a dash of dish washing liquid in it. Not too much, a little goes a long way! Take care not to burn yourself. | Source

Cover the project with curtain netting

Begin by carefully dabbing the middle of the pod with hot soapy water.  Work carefully towards the edges of the netting.  Add more water as you go.  Once wet but not saturated, remove the netting and cover with bubble-wrap, smooth side up.
Begin by carefully dabbing the middle of the pod with hot soapy water. Work carefully towards the edges of the netting. Add more water as you go. Once wet but not saturated, remove the netting and cover with bubble-wrap, smooth side up. | Source

Wet the bubble-wrap slightly, it makes your hands glide of the bubble-wrap.

Once the wool is wet under the netting, cover with bubble-wrap as shown here.
Once the wool is wet under the netting, cover with bubble-wrap as shown here. | Source

Remove the netting and cover with bubble wrap

Carefully remove net and replace with bubble wrap again, smooth side up.  Continue rubbing until you reach 'pinch test' stage.
Carefully remove net and replace with bubble wrap again, smooth side up. Continue rubbing until you reach 'pinch test' stage. | Source

The pinch test!

Pinch test - Test to see if the fibers have fused together. Pinch them carefully between two fingers and if they don't move, it is then time for you to stop rubbing. Remove the netting from the projectt

Flip the project over to show wrong side

Flip the project over between two pieces of bubble wrap.  It makes it easier to keep the decoration on the outside of the balloon.
Flip the project over between two pieces of bubble wrap. It makes it easier to keep the decoration on the outside of the balloon. | Source

Place the ball on the plain side, wrap it up and smooth it out carefully with the aid of the bubble wrap.

Keep the bubble wrap on until you have wrapped the ball.  Use the bubble wrap to help enfold the ball.  Smooth out as much as possible before wrapping in the stocking.
Keep the bubble wrap on until you have wrapped the ball. Use the bubble wrap to help enfold the ball. Smooth out as much as possible before wrapping in the stocking. | Source

Hint, fit your stocking over the back of a chair and carefully insert the wet covered ball into it. Gently lift off and tie it up before putting into tumble dr

Handy hint, fit your stocking over the back of a metal or wooden chair, pull one side of the stocking towards you and push your ball under and up into the waist of the stocking.
Handy hint, fit your stocking over the back of a metal or wooden chair, pull one side of the stocking towards you and push your ball under and up into the waist of the stocking. | Source

Pod inside the stocking and at the kitchen sink.

When the Pod is tied up inside the stocking, I give it a good soap up with some hot water and dish washing liquid and a really good massage to get rid of some of the bumps and folds.  When I am happy with it, I pop it back into the tumble dryer.
When the Pod is tied up inside the stocking, I give it a good soap up with some hot water and dish washing liquid and a really good massage to get rid of some of the bumps and folds. When I am happy with it, I pop it back into the tumble dryer. | Source

Remove stocking from bird pod after ten minutes!

After about ten minutes in the tumble dryer, check to see if the stocking is becoming attached to the Pod.  If it is,  remove the stocking carefully by pulling it away from the wool and put back to tumble for a bit longer.
After about ten minutes in the tumble dryer, check to see if the stocking is becoming attached to the Pod. If it is, remove the stocking carefully by pulling it away from the wool and put back to tumble for a bit longer. | Source

Pod with balloon and water still inside

At this stage I usually untie the balloon, remove a little air, knot it again and put it back in the tumble dryer for another ten minutes or so - this helps shrink the pod - which in turn thickens the fabric a little more.
At this stage I usually untie the balloon, remove a little air, knot it again and put it back in the tumble dryer for another ten minutes or so - this helps shrink the pod - which in turn thickens the fabric a little more. | Source

Pod with balloon and water removed.

Close-up of my pod, a little thin perhaps!.   I should have added a fourth layer!   Different wool produces different results but felt fortunately is forgiving!  There are many ways to 'tart' up your pod.  More about this later!
Close-up of my pod, a little thin perhaps!. I should have added a fourth layer! Different wool produces different results but felt fortunately is forgiving! There are many ways to 'tart' up your pod. More about this later! | Source

Time to give the bird pod it's finishing touches!

Time to add the finishing touches.  Will add my touches to this Pod in the next day or so.
Time to add the finishing touches. Will add my touches to this Pod in the next day or so. | Source

What to do when things go wrong!

Sometimes things do not always go to plan. For help and advice on how to improve your Pod if things don't always go quite to plan. More help and advice on what to do when things go wrong can be found on http://sallybea.hubpages.com/hub/What-to-do-when-things-go-wrong-when-Wet-Felting


Bird Pod Project

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Making a felt vessel on a ball

© 2012 Sally Gulbrandsen

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    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      peachpurple,

      I hope you do make a felt bird pod soon. I intend to make a few more at the beginning of Summer. I appreciate your stopping by to comment, thank you very much.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      clever idea, those birdies are going to love this unique nest, will be make one soon, voted up

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Suzanne Day

      It is nice to know that wet felting is becoming so popular - such an an ancient craft and yet it seems to be evolving along with modern techniques and experimentation. Thanks for the vote up, beautiful and rated.

      Sally

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Gorgeous! I can sense some felting projects in the air for me (on top of the ones I have done already). Thank you for the useful tutorial photos. Voted beautiful & rated!

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Tracy Lynn Conway

      I really do hope you do try it. If you would like to learn how to a variety of felted items using a ball and some wool roving, please check out my other Hubs on Felting.

      So pleased to learn that you enjoyed this tutorial.

      Thank you

      Sally

    • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

      Tracy Lynn Conway 3 years ago from Virginia, USA

      I work with felt but never knew how to make a ball with a hollow inside, now I do. Thanks for the great tutorial! I hope I can try this one out soon.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      VVanNess - glad you could stop by to pay my Bird Pod Hub a visit. I think you dogs are more likely chew it up in an instant as it is much softer than a huge tennis ball.

      Thank you for the comment.

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      That's really cute. I think my dogs might love that more simply because it looks like a huge tennis ball. lol I didn't know that it was possible to do something like this. Very nice!

    • Bishop55 profile image

      Rebecca 3 years ago from USA

      Really cool project. Voted up.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      FlourishAnyway - thank you for the lovely comment and the vote up. Your visit is appreciated as always.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Glommer Twin Fan

      Glad you found the Bird Pods - they really are very simple to make, definitely a project the little birds will appreciate as much as you will enjoy making them. Thanks so much for your visit and your comment.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      This is a beautiful tutorial, and I love that it is for the birds. Your photos and descriptions are marvelous. Voted up and more.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      I really have to try felting. This is absolutely beautiful, the project and the hub. Well done and now to figure out how to felt. Wow!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Hello DDE. It is always so nice when you stop by to check out my Hubs. I certainly plan to keep on writing and to share more on this subject - watch this space as I am just about to publish another. !. Thanks for the Vote up. I appreciate your comments as always. I am so lucky to have such a loyal follower.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      How to Wet Felt a Bird Pod in Merino Wool Fibers - A Photo Tutorial, incredible about this hub topic. You have certainly caught my eye with this title don't know how I missed it. So beautifully presented and a wonderful decorative suggestion. Keep on writing and sharing your informative hubs.Voted up,useful beautiful and interesting

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Not sure how I missed your comment purl3agony. It appeared to have a little note next to it which said not spam - never seen that before .

    • sallybea profile image
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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      hazel hewitt, I would say that this is more a decorative item than a real bird nests. I personally hang mine on a patio. I would suggest that some firm wire could be threaded into the plait to prevent the pod from actually swinging. I would not re-use the item if a bird had lived in it once. A new one can easily be made very cheaply. I agree also, that we need to be responsible .bird's nest parents'. I appreciate your advice and also your visit. Thank you very much. Best wishes, Sally

    • profile image

      hazel hewitt 3 years ago

      This is a very cute ornament and lots of fun. But please check with your local Bird Protection organization before recommending this as a possible bird home. According to Massachusetts Audubon society, it is very important to be a responsible 'bird's nest parent' and keep any nest boxes regularly cleaned. (They also say nest boxes should not swing.)

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 4 years ago from USA

      I need to try this! Pinning now and voting up!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      Fanfiber I will add something in a couple of days. I did another tutorial on Bird Pods using the Balloon method which I feel gives a better finish. You could try the template method too. Place your fibers on both sides of a round template and once you have reached the pre-felt stage, remove the template through a small hole and insert a balloon with some water in it and complete the project in the tumble drier. Keep letting some air out from the balloon until the pod shrinks to the size you require.

      If you have any thin spots on your current pods you could try to needlefelt a few extra fibers over them or sew on some flat felt flowers or leaves. I am sure the birds won't mind! Thanks so much for your comment, it is much appreciated. https://hubpages.com/art/How-to-felt-a-Bird-Pod...

    • profile image

      FabFiber 4 years ago

      Hi Sally - this was a great tutorial! I made 6 pods at the same time but also experienced thin spots on a couple of them. Your tutorial says "There are many ways to 'tart' up your pod. More about this later!". Do you have a link to that information? I would like to check it out and see what my options are. Thanks so much!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      You don't necessarily need a dryer, you can do this on a ball and bounce it on a hard surface. Check out my other instructions for a bird pod made on a balloon or a ball

      https://hubpages.com/art/How-to-felt-a-Bird-Pod...

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

      What a great idea. I live off the grid with solar power so I am never likely to have a dryer. However I can think of a few people to suggest this idea to. Your instructions and photos are brilliant. Voted up and awesome!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      Thank you Natashalh, I appreciate your visit and especially your comments.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Fantastic and beautiful - I'm pinning this one, too! I never would have guessed felted projects could be so durable. I really want to felt now!

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by, much appreciated.

    • Mathi Vathani profile image

      Mathivathani Sakthivel 4 years ago from brisbane

      You've taken a great effort...i love this hub.

    • sallybea profile image
      Author

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      Thank you so much! felting is wonderful! This technique can be used equally well for making beautiful hats using the 'Gertie' ball. There are few rules for felting, experiment and use whichever method works best for you. There is always an element of surprise - you never know quite what it will turn out. There is something so glorious about making your own felt. The most important thing though, is to experiment and to enjoy what you are doing! Thank you for the share on facebook.

    • ThompsonPen profile image

      Nicola Thompson 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      This was a great tutorial. I've shared it with one of my friends on facebook. I look forward to seeing more of your hubs :)

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