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How to Make Wet Felted Gloves With Fingers

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

Wet felted gloves lovingly handcrafted by Sallybea.

Wet felted gloves lovingly handcrafted by Sallybea.

Kitchen Glove with Wet Felted Gloves

Instructions

  1. Fill kitchen gloves with polystyrene balls.
  2. Wet the glove with hot soapy water.
  3. Lay the rubber glove on its side and put down the merino wool fibers.
  4. Cover the rubber glove with the Merino Roving. It felts easily and is easily sourced. It comes in just about every color imaginable. It is very soft with a staple length of about 3 - 4 inches (the length of each fiber). Merino is a great choice for this project as it felts easily.
  5. Use hot soapy water to add layers.
  6. Use bubble wrap to massage the fibers.
  7. Do a 'pinch' test.
  8. Alternate between hot and cold water to shrink the gloves to the proper size.
  9. Microwave for a few seconds if you need to resize or reshape them.

Requirements:

  • A quantity of Merino Wool Roving
  • 1 Pair of Large Long Household Gloves
  • A small quantity of Polystyrene Bean Bag Filling
  • 2 CD’s or DVD’s which are surplus to requirements
  • A Small Roll of Duct Tape
  • A Small quantity of Washing-up Liquid
  • A Small Piece of Curtain Netting (Preferably one which has a fine texture)

Non Essential Items:

  • A large Plastic Funnel
  • A large Knitting Needle
  • A Wooden Spoon
  • A large Bowl or Plastic Bag for containing the Polystyrene Balls

1. Fill kitchen gloves with polystyrene balls.

You Will Need Some Long, Large, Kitchen Gloves (Marigolds)

A pair of latex household gloves and a plastic Funnel, the latter is only useful if the polystyrene balls are able to fit through the entrance without becoming blocked.

A pair of latex household gloves and a plastic Funnel, the latter is only useful if the polystyrene balls are able to fit through the entrance without becoming blocked.

Method

1. Fill the pair of Household Gloves with Polystyrene Balls. Push them right up into all the fingers and make sure that all the fingers are filled properly before you work up towards the top of the glove.

2. Fill them as high as you are able to go and then seal each glove with a DVD which you will find, fits perfectly into each glove. Fold the rubber edges over onto the DVD.

3. Top up the Polystyrene balls through the hole in the DVD until you cannot push any more in. Do this by spooning Polystyrene onto the top of the DVD and then using three fingers push and press the polystyrene balls towards the entrance of the DVD hole. Use one of the three fingers to push the balls down into the glove. Massage the balls right to the top of each finger and thumb.

4. Cover the hole with a piece of Duct tape, then tape over the whole printed area of the DVD. Trim the edges of the duct tape carefully.

5. NB I folded the duct tape over onto the glove as can be seen in the images. In retrospect, it would have been better to keep the tape only on the DVD. It takes patience to complete this job but your patience will be rewarded! The rubber gloves make a surprisingly successful Glove Last.

Update: Rice, Sand or Polystyrene Balls

Recently I found an online discussion about this tutorial where it was suggested that rice might be a better alternative to the polystyrene balls. I think this to be an excellent suggestion but not if a tumble dryer is utilized It is my belief that the gloves may split while they are spinning around in the dryer. Polystyrene foam and sand were experimented with, but neither proved to be very successful. The polystyrene balls worked very well once contained in the gloves.

Polystyrene Balls

Polystyrene Balls - Bean Bag Filling

Polystyrene Balls - Bean Bag Filling

Something to Keep the Mess to a Minimum!

Image shows a Stainless Steel Bowl, Household Glove and  some Polystyrene Balls

Image shows a Stainless Steel Bowl, Household Glove and some Polystyrene Balls

Hint

  • Use a large stainless steel bowl to effectively contain the Polystyrene Balls to one area of the room.
  • The funnel I used was not terribly effective because the passage into the glove was not sufficiently wide enough to allow the Polystyrene Balls through without becoming blocked. It may be surplus to requirements, try spooning them in instead.
  • The hole in the DVD proved exceptionally useful as a means to fill the gloves.
  • Turn the top edges of the glove over onto the DVD as shown in the images. Make sure you fill the glove until you cannot fit one more polystyrene ball through the hole.
  • Compress the filling as much as you can by massaging the Polystyrene Balls up towards the fingers.
  • Try using the handle of a wooden spoon or something similar to push the Polystyrene Balls up into the area of the fingers.

The Polystyrene Filled Latex Gloves

Both gloves filled through the DVD hole and then covered with a strip of duct tape, after which the whole of the DVD was taped over.

Both gloves filled through the DVD hole and then covered with a strip of duct tape, after which the whole of the DVD was taped over.

Polystyrene Bean Bag Filling

  • Have a little patience; your efforts will soon be rewarded. It takes a while to fill the gloves properly.
  • The end result is a very malleable glove last. It is surprisingly robust and easy to work with. Even the fingers can be pressed aside when you need to work on the one next to it.
  • The little polystyrene balls inside the gloves seem to help speed up the felting process. They appear to do this in much the same way as using bubble-wrap does when friction is applied to it.

Death of a Salesman DVD!

Both Gloves filled with Polystyrene Balls.  The center hole of the Death of a Salesman has as yet been taped up.

Both Gloves filled with Polystyrene Balls. The center hole of the Death of a Salesman has as yet been taped up.

Just a Little Humor

The Death of a Salesman DVD came free with a Sunday Newspaper. Please don't feel obligated to go out and buy this DVD or even a Catherine Cookson one for the other. You need not feel that you have to replicate exactly the image above.

I promise you that any DVD or CD will suffice for this project, The title is unimportant for the success of this project.

The Rubber Kitchen Gloves Filled with Polystyrene Balls

The DVD's made a very effective stand for the gloves.

The DVD's made a very effective stand for the gloves.

2. Wet the glove with hot soapy water.

The Essentials: Merino Wool Roving and Hot Soapy Water

Wool roving, hot soapy water in a squeeze bottle and the two 'hand ' lasts.

Wool roving, hot soapy water in a squeeze bottle and the two 'hand ' lasts.

Wet the Glove with Hot Soapy Water

Wetting the last with hot soapy water using a squeeze bottle

Wetting the last with hot soapy water using a squeeze bottle

Fill the Squeeze Bottle with Hot Soapy Water

  • Use the squeeze bottle to wet the glove with hot soapy water. This will help the wool fibers to stick to the rubber glove. You will only need to wet the area you are working on at the time.

Getting Started with the Wool Roving

Adding merino wool fibers to the rubber glove

Adding merino wool fibers to the rubber glove

3. Lay the rubber glove on its side and put down the merino wool fibers.

Laying the glove down flat helps prevent the fibers from falling off the Last

Laying the glove down flat helps prevent the fibers from falling off the Last

Putting down the Merino Wool Fibers

Lay the wool fibers down in one direction.

Lay the wool fibers down in one direction.

Cover with Curtain Netting

Cover with curtain netting and then wet and smooth down until the fibers are wet through but not saturated with excess water.

Cover with curtain netting and then wet and smooth down until the fibers are wet through but not saturated with excess water.

Curtain Netting

  • The type of curtain netting you use should preferably be finer than the one shown here. When you use a thicker net the fibers have more opportunity to become embedded in the netting.
  • You don't want this to happen!

Remove the Netting

  • Remove the netting and smooth out any loose fibers with your fingers. Work around the rubber glove in the same manner as before. You may find it easy to use your bare hands rather than the netting. This is really a matter of preference as so much depends on how much experience you have with working with wool.
  • I do find it helpful, however, to use curtain netting. others may use bubble-wrap or just use their bare hands to damp down the wool fibers.

One Half Has Now Been Completed!

Now for the fingers!

Now for the fingers!

4. Cover the rubber glove with the Merino Roving.

Work your way around the whole of the Last and then complete the fingers.

Work your way around the whole of the Last and then complete the fingers.

Parting the Fingers!

Part the fingers and add the fibers evenly to the whole area.

Part the fingers and add the fibers evenly to the whole area.

Working on the Fingers

  • The fingers can easily be parted as shown above. This makes it very easy to put the fibers down. Don't leave any gaps in the wool, otherwise you will end up with holes between the fingers.
  • You might like to try using a knitting needle to push down the fibers between the fingers. I stopped using mine when I realized how easy it was to part the fingers and just work between them.
  • I always say, do it the way which works for you.

A Squeeze of Hot Soapy Water!

A drop of water holds the fibers on the tip of rubber fingers.

A drop of water holds the fibers on the tip of rubber fingers.

One Rubber Glove Covered

The first hand has now been covered in wool roving

The first hand has now been covered in wool roving

5. Use hot soapy water to add layers.

A Little Drop of Hot Soapy Water

  • Place a little wool roving on top of each finger.
  • Do this, one finger at a time. The wool will stay there while you smooth the rest of the fibers down.
  • Now add a little more wool and water to the sides of the fingers. Gently smooth the Roving until each rubber finger is completely covered. Ensure that the whole of the fingers and thumbs are evenly covered. Add more wool if you see any of the rubber Glove showing through. Making the area between the fingers too thick will result in limited movement when you wear your gloves. Getting the balance right will come with experience but ensure that you leave no thin spots.
  • Then repeat for the second layer.

2nd Layer

Repeat the first layer once more but lay the wool at 90 degrees to the first one.

Repeat the first layer once more but lay the wool at 90 degrees to the first one.

2 Layers or 3

  • If you find that 2 Layer feel too thin, I suggest that you add another layer - or a decorative layer to the final layer.
  • I used two layers and used no decorative layer. I cannot stress the importance of getting your layers even all over if you want to end up with a good result.
  • Don't make your layers too thick. You could end up with gloves which will not allow your hands to move comfortably in them.

6. Use bubble wrap, massaging, and the pinch test to fuse the fibers.

Cover with Bubble-wrap

Cover with bubble-wrap

Cover with bubble-wrap

Bubble side down

  • Cover with Bubble-wrap with the bubble side down. Add a little soapy water to the surface of the bubble-wrap. It helps your fingers to glide more easily over it.
  • Now start creating friction by rubbing the bubble-wrap firmly all over. Rub one section at a time. Rub until the fibers no longer move. Perform a Pinch Test to make sure that they don't.

Bubble-Wrap

Cover fingers with bubble-wrap and push down between the fingers.  Rub with your fingers for several minutes.

Cover fingers with bubble-wrap and push down between the fingers. Rub with your fingers for several minutes.

The Fingers

  • Place the bubble-wrap over the fingers as shown in the image above. Rub vigorously for a while. Pay special attention to this area.

Massaging the Glove

Give the hand a good massage.  Don't be afraid to do this firmly.  You will soon start to feel the fibers tighten under your fingers.

Give the hand a good massage. Don't be afraid to do this firmly. You will soon start to feel the fibers tighten under your fingers.

A Pinch Test

Pinch the fibers gently to see if they move.

Pinch the fibers gently to see if they move.

The Pinch Test

  • Pinch the fibers between your fingers to see if the fibers move, gently now!
  • If they do move, continue rubbing. Insufficient Fulling will result in your glove falling apart when you put them into the hot water.

Massaging

The fibers can clearly be seen here to have tightened.  Ready now for a hot and cold dunk in water!

The fibers can clearly be seen here to have tightened. Ready now for a hot and cold dunk in water!

Give the Gloves a Final Massage

  • Massage with your fingers until you are completely satisfied that the fibers have fused together. If you look carefully at the image above you can clearly see that the fibers have fused together.

Fibers Fused Together

Fibers fused together.

Fibers fused together.

The 2 Gloves Standing Side by Side

Gloves completely covered in fibers

Gloves completely covered in fibers

7. Alternate between hot and cold water to shrink the gloves to the proper size.

Dunk the Gloves!

The rubber gloves are being dunked first in hot water and then in cold water.

The rubber gloves are being dunked first in hot water and then in cold water.

First in Hot Water

  • Hold them under hot water for a little while.

Hot Water

Dunking in hot water.

Dunking in hot water.

Then in Cold Water

  • Take the Rubber Gloves straight from the hot water and put into the cold water and hold them there for a short while.
  • Repeat the hot and cold water process three times.

Cold Water

Dunking in cold water

Dunking in cold water

One for Hot and One for Cold Water

  • Two Stainless Steel Bowls were used in this Tutorial for demonstration purposes only. One could easily substitute a Kitchen Sink for the same purpose.

Two Stainless Steel Bowls

Two stainless steel bowls were used for demonstration purposes

Two stainless steel bowls were used for demonstration purposes

Gently Ease the Gloves from the Rubber Gloves

  • Once you have completed the hot and cold cycle water cycle, gently ease the gloves from the Rubber Gloves. They will stretch a little, sufficient enough to allow you to remove the gloves with ease.

Removing the Gloves From the Latex Gloves

Removing the gloves from the latex gloves

Removing the gloves from the latex gloves

Time to Get a Little Rough

  • Once the gloves have been removed from the Lasts, rinsed in hot and then cold water, squeeze any excess water out gently and toss the gloves hard down onto the surface of the kitchen counter or sink. The gloves will begin to firm up very quickly and you can then begin shaping them.
  • I inserted my own hand into the glove to gently stretch it into the shape of my own hand. If they feel too large, continue throwing them down onto the counter until they have shrunk to the right size.

Hint

  • The shape of the original rubber gloves does determine the shape of the glove. They may be slightly longer on the arms than you would like them to be. If so, trim the tops first, just to remove any uneven edges and then dip the cut edge into the warm water and massage the edge.
  • Take the gloves outside and hit the trimmed edge on a brick wall. Do this by holding the top half of the glove firmly with one hand and then flick it sharply against the wall. You will be able to see the fibers shrink before your eyes. Do this in any area where you wish to shrink the fibers.

How Much Did the Gloves Really Shrink?

A comparison showing the original Last and the Felted Glove together.

A comparison showing the original Last and the Felted Glove together.

Shrinkage

  • In the image above we are able to see how much shrinkage actually took place.
  • I purchased a Household glove which was one size too large for me. I did trim the upper edge of the finished glove slightly which makes it shorter than the original rubber gloves. The wool does shrink in both directions so it would have shrunk a little there too. However, the gloves still fit me perfectly.
  • Try using a medium glove for small hands and large size for medium hands. An extra large pair can be used for large hands. Remember to buy them long if you want them to reach higher up the arm.