How to Make a Wet Felted Tulip
If Only Tulips Could Talk!
It is said that if Tulips could talk they would tell many a tale about their origin but since they cannot, this shall remain a mystery, except to say, that it is likely that their origin lies somewhere in a corridor which spreads between Northern China and Southern Europe.
Using Nature to Create a Template
Drawing is not my forte. Tracing an image is about as good as it gets. This is why I have begun this project with a Botany lesson where I I was able to dissect a Tulip in order to reveal the inner and outer beauty of a Tulip. Once done, I was able to understand what I needed to create a Tulip which comes as close to the original as nature intended it.
Step 1—Remove the Petals
- Remove the Petals so that the Tulip can allow you into its secrets.
How Did Nature Assemble This Beauty?
Step 2—The Inside of a Tulip
- You will see that each stamen has been carefully arranged around each Style.
- 1 Stamen is assigned to each petal making a total of 6.
All Will Soon Be Revealed!
Stamen (Anther and Filament)
This image gives one a clear indication of how the Stamen (Anther and Filament) should be constructed when you start to recreate your very own Tulip.
Step 3—Stem and Style
- Make a template using the parts of the flower.
- Trace around all the items.
Stem and Style
Step 4—Dissect a Tulip
- In order to recreate a Tulip using Wet felting as your method of choice, dissect the Tulip and draw around the items.
- Make a note of how nature intended the colours to be.
Remove the Outer 3 Petals
The Final 3 Petals
Step 5—Petal Placement
- Look from the underside side of the tulip to see how the petals are attached to the stem.
Petal and Stamen
Step 6—Trace Around the Petals
- When drawing around the Petal, make a note of the coloration.
Paper Template, Petals and Stamens
Below is the paper template of the Tulip. There are 6 Petals, 6 Stamens, 1 Style and 1 Stem
Step 7—Cut Out the 6 Petals
- Draw the Petals, Stem and Stamens and add the design.
The Completed Templates
- 1 Tulip
- 1 roll of beading or florist wire
- Small quantity silk roving in yellow
- Merino wool roving in red and yellow
- A little green wool roving to make the stem
- Paper template
- Electric palm sander and a thick sheet of plastic, clear or patterned.
- Liquid soap, preferably Olive oil soap
- Small electric palm sander (If no electric sander is available, use a heavy duty bamboo blind to roll the items in)
Beading Wire Silver
Step 8—Making the Flower
- Make 6 wire petals using the silver wire as shown below.
- Twist and tie the wire to form each petal.
- Use the template as a guide to creating petals which follow the lines of each petal.
- The frilled edges of the wire will give the tulip it's frilly appearance.
- The wire should be firm enough to keep its shape.
- For a realistic look, keep the petals as thin as possible.
Tulip Petal Frames
Step 9—Cover the Wire Petals with Yellow Merino Wool Roving
- Cover the wire petals with a fine layer of merino wool roving. This will allow the petals to adhere to the wire when the fibres are put down.
Wool Roving Covering the Frame
6 Wire Petals
Silk and Merino roving were used for the Petals. The silk fibres and a lovely sheen and are perfect for this project.
Pressing Flowers in the Spring
Take the opportunity to pick flowers and press them for when the flowers are no longer in the season. Keep them between pages in a book or buy a flower press. You will be glad you did if your aim is to make flowers which look just like the original!
Making the Petals
Gorgeous Silk Roving
It is generally accepted practice that one should not cut wool roving, with a pair of scissors. It is better to pull the fibres apart. I made an exception in this case.
Step 10— Lay Down the Silk
- Begin by wrapping 1 fine layer of merino or silk roving around the frame.
- Then add a fine layer of silk or merino which should extend to just beyond the edge.
- Add another layer.
- Put these down so that they lay in the opposite direction.
- Use red merino roving for decoration. Use very fine slivers.
- Complete the centre of the tulip by cutting a small piece of red roving for the centre from a fine layer of wool as shown in the images below using the tiny template piece.
Laying out the Fibres
Add a Little Color
Close up of the Design
Petals and the Sander
Step 11—Grated Olive Oil Soap
- Use grated olive oil soap diluted in very hot water.
- Put it into a squeeze bottle.
- Olive oil soap is kind to the hands and the fibre.
- Prepare all the petals and only then proceed with the sanding process. It will save you lots of time.
Step 12—Hot Soapy Water
- Use the squeeze bottle to add hot soapy water to the centre of each flower.
- Do this one at a time and set them aside.
Wetting the Petals
Step 13—Fold the Edges Over Neatly as Shown
- Ensure that the edges are as neat as you can make them.
Fold the Edges Over Neatly
Edges Folded in With the Right Side Showing
Use a thick sheet of plastic to prevent the Palm Sander from coming in contact with electricity. Always use safe practice when you use a Palm Sander near water. Ensure that the plugs are earthed and that you wear rubber soled shoes and never stand in water.
Step 14—Put the Petals Inside a Folded Sheet of Plastic
- Lay the petals between a thick piece of plastic sheeting.
- Sand for several minutes.
- Check to make sure that the fibres have fused together. This will take around about five minutes.
- It may take less time if your plastic sheeting is thinner than that which is shown here.
- Do a pinch test to see if the fibres has fused together, if not, continue until they no longer move under your fingers.
A Sanded Petal
The Completed Petals
Step 15—Sepals, Stem, Stamens and Style
- The four S's - prepare the frames for the 4 items and complete them in the same manner as the petals were done. Please see images below.
- In this case, these items will be rolled rather than sanded - on a shelf liner such as this one or on a bamboo sushi mat. Both will work equally well.
Wired Frames for the Stamens, Stems, Sepal and Style
Twist the Wire Frame
Step 16—The Stem
- Use green roving for the stem and yellow for the style and stamens.
- Confine the yellow to the top end only.
- I used a mix of raw light beige Alpaca wool for the stem, coupled with tiny amounts of light green.
Duck Shelf Liners
Step 17—Duck Shelf Liner
- A Duck shelf liner was used for rolling and felting the stems of this tulip.
- A heavy duty bamboo mat would work equally well especially if you do not have a palm sander to hand
- Use a waterproof table or cover the table with a plastic tablecloth.
- I use is made of marble table but you could just place down another plastic sheet or towels placed on a wooden table.
Laying Out the Fibres
Step 18—Wet the Wool
- Wet the wool with hot soapy water in just the same way the petals were done.
Turn the Edges in and Roll
Step 19—Another Layer
- Add 2 layers of yellow to make the stamens and style more defined.
A 2nd Layer of Yellow Fibers
Step 20—Rinse in Hot and Then Cold Water
- Rinse all the items in hot and then cold water.
- Make sure that the items are completely felted before you insert them into hot water.
- You should already have performed a pinch test. This is when the fibres no longer move when pinched with your fingers.
Ready to Rinse
Step 21—Hot and Then Cold Water
- Drop each item into a bowl of hot and then cold water.
- Repeat once more for each item and then rinse thoroughly under hot water and then rinse with cold water with a little vinegar added to it.
Two Bowls, 1 Filled With Hot Water and 1 With Cold
First, the Hot Water
Then the Cold Water
Step 22—Dipping the Stems Into Hot and Then Cold Water
- Repeat the process with with all the petals and the stems.
The Completed Petals
Rinsed and Ready to Assemble
- Having completed the rinsing, I placed all the items on a hand towel and then covered it with a sheet of plastic. I then used the sander to help me remove any excess water and smooth pit the items to make them look crisp and fresh again.
- An iron would suffice!
- I was then able to assemble the tulips immediately.
Step 23—Wire the Stamens and the Style
- Tie florist wire around the stamens and style to keep them together.
- Put the style in the middle and then assemble the petals one by one, by first placing three petals around the stamens.
- Add another layer in-between the spaces made by the previous layer.
- Twist all the stems together as shown in the image below.
Stamens and Style
Attach 3 Petals
Twist the Wires Together
The Completed Tulip
Making Wet Felted Flowers
Is the Wire Frame Method of Felting one which appeals to you?
© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen