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How to Make a Wet Felted Tulip

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

Beautiful Tulip

Beautiful Tulip

If Only Tulips Could Talk!

It is said that if tulips could talk, they would tell many a tale about their origin. However, 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.

This tutorial explores how to craft a 3D wet felted tulip using a wire frame and merino wool roving.

Materials Needed

  • 1 tulip
  • 1 roll of beading wire 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 (see instructions below)
  • 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.)

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 its inner and outer beauty. 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.

Perfect Petals on My Sample Tulip

Perfect Petals on My Sample Tulip

Stunning Stripes on the Petals

Stunning Stripes on the Petals

Step 1: Remove the Petals

Remove the petals so that the tulip can allow you into its secrets.

Peering into the interior of a tulip.

Peering into the interior of a tulip.

Step 2: Observe the Inside of the 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.
A view of the inside of a tulip.

A view of the inside of a tulip.

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.

Close-Up of the Stamen (Anther and Filament of a Tulip)

Close-Up of the Stamen (Anther and Filament of a Tulip)

Step 3: Make a Template of the Stem and Style

  • Make a template using the parts of the flower.
  • Trace around all the items.
Stem and Style of the Tulip

Stem and Style of the Tulip

Tulip Style

Tulip Style

Step 4: Dissect the 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 three petals.

Remove the outer three petals.

The rear side of the Tulip.

The rear side of the Tulip.

Step 5: Note the Petal Placement

Look from the underside side of the tulip to see how the petals are attached to the stem.

A single petal and one stamen, still attached.

A single petal and one stamen, still attached.

Step 6: Trace Around the Petals

When drawing around the petal, make a note of the colouration.

Paper Template for the Petals and Stamens

Below is the paper template of the tulip. There are 6 petals, 6 stamens, 1 style and 1 stem.

Template

Template

Step 7: Cut Out the Six Petals

Draw the petals, stem and stamens and add the design.

The cut-out pieces are shown here.

The cut-out pieces are shown here.

Step 8: Make 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

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.

Three covered Tulip Petal Frames

Three covered Tulip Petal Frames

6 Petals shown overlapping one another.

6 Petals shown overlapping one another.

Silk Roving

Silk and Merino roving were used for the Petals. The silk fibres and a lovely sheen and are perfect for this project.

One Frame, One Petal Template and the original pressed petal.

One Frame, One Petal Template and the original pressed petal.

A close-up of the Silk Roving

A close-up of the Silk Roving

Pull off very fine slivers of the silk fibers

Pull off very fine slivers of the silk fibers

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.
Keep the layers very fine

Keep the layers very fine

Lay the fibers in two directions

Lay the fibers in two directions

Use red Merino Wool Roving to add details to the Tulip

Use red Merino Wool Roving to add details to the Tulip

Here a small flattened piece of red has been cut from the tiny template for the center of the Tulip

Here a small flattened piece of red has been cut from the tiny template for the center of the Tulip

An electric Palm Sander with the Petals and the Hot Soapy Water.

An electric Palm Sander with the Petals and the Hot Soapy Water.

Step 11: Add 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: Add 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.
Wet the center of the petal.

Wet the center of the petal.

Step 13: Fold the Edges Over Neatly

Ensure that the edges are as neat as you can make them.

Fold the fibers in over the wire frame

Fold the fibers in over the wire frame

Edges folded in, right side showing.

Edges folded in, right side showing.

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.
Completed petals arranged between a sheet of thick plastic.  In this case, a child's play mat.

Completed petals arranged between a sheet of thick plastic. In this case, a child's play mat.

Close up of the play mat.

Close up of the play mat.

Never use a sander which has a dust bag.

Never use a sander which has a dust bag.

A completed petal.

A completed petal.

Sanded petals arranged as a tulip

Sanded petals arranged as a tulip

Step 15: Make the 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.
Wire frames

Wire frames

Cut to length and then twist the wire where indicated here.

Cut to length and then twist the wire where indicated here.

Step 16: Create 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.

Step 17: Prepare to Roll

  • 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.
Lay the frame on the fibers

Lay the frame on the fibers

Step 18: Wet the Wool

Wet the wool with hot soapy water in just the same way the petals were done.

Wet the fibres.

Wet the fibres.

Turn the edges in and roll on the drawer lining.

Turn the edges in and roll on the drawer lining.

Roll well until fully felted.  You may wish to add two layers to the yellow section to make it more defined.

Roll well until fully felted. You may wish to add two layers to the yellow section to make it more defined.

Step 19: Add Another Layer

Add 2 layers of yellow to make the stamens and style more defined.

Continue rolling.

Continue rolling.

Adding a second layer of yellow.

Adding a second layer of yellow.

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 in hot and then cold water.

Ready to rinse in hot and then cold water.

Step 21: Repeat the Rinse

  • 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.
Very hot water in one, cold in the other.

Very hot water in one, cold in the other.

Dipping into very hot water.

Dipping into very hot water.

Dip into cold water

Dip into cold water

Step 22: Dip the Stems Into Hot and Then Cold Water

Repeat the process with with all the petals and the stems.

Repeat the hot and cold water on all the items.

Repeat the hot and cold water on all the items.

Sally Gulbrandsen.

Sally Gulbrandsen.

The Tulip Parts Are 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.
Wire the seven items together to make it easier to assemble the petals correctly.

Wire the seven items together to make it easier to assemble the petals correctly.

Attach three Petals.

Attach three Petals.

Twist the wires together.

Twist the wires together.

Wet felted tulip in a wire frame

Wet felted tulip in a wire frame

© 2014 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 16, 2015:

torrilynn

You are very welcome, I hope that you enjoy making these felted flowers.

Sally

torrilynn on May 16, 2015:

thanks for the how to steps. I can't wait to try this sooner rather than later. Best of wishes.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 14, 2015:

Dolores Monet

Glad you enjoy this wet felting tutorial. It is always pleasing to hear that the images I take are enjoyed by people who visit my pages. Thank you so much!

Sally.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on May 14, 2015:

Excellent tutorial with such perfect pictures! This certainly looks like a lot of work! I love how the pix of the whole process looks with the background you used.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 13, 2015:

The Dirt Farmer

Thank you for the compliment. I am glad that you found the tutorial helpful. Your comment and visit are appreciated.

Sally

Jill Spencer from United States on May 13, 2015:

Lovely! I saw . . . paper flowers, I think, in House Beautiful that were lovely, too-- and extremely expensive. Such detail in your project! You really take us step by step through the process, and the photos are a great help.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 07, 2015:

Suzie HQ

Thank you so much, this was another project which gave me so much pleasure. Wet felting is growing in popularity and it can be a very exciting medium to work with. I love discovering new ways to work with merino wool roving. The exciting part is that once one understands exactly how the wool will behave when heat and friction are applied you are almost there.

It is so nice to have you return to one of my hubs.

Have a wonderful day

Sally

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on May 07, 2015:

Hi Sally,

Wow, your work is amazing, truly I am in awe. I love this tulip and this wet felting is a new area to explore for me, thank you so much just sorry I have been off the radar in recent months. Love this style and unique art!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on July 15, 2014:

Neil Rose - lovely to find you back on one of my pages. I am glad you enjoyed this wet felting tutorial.

Best wishes,

Sally

Nell Rose from England on July 15, 2014:

Oh wow! the patience you must have to make this! I would give up after picking the real flower! lol! But its so clever and beautifully done! Wonderful Sally!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on July 04, 2014:

Eiddwen,

You are most welcome. Thanks for the vote up and the visit, it is much appreciated and I hope you are yours are enjoying your new home.

Best wishes,

Sally

Eiddwen from Wales on July 04, 2014:

Thank you once again sally for sharing another wonderful hub with us on here. Voting up for sure.

Eddy.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on June 21, 2014:

Suzanne Day

My object is always to try to replicate nature as far as is possible when making flowers with felt. I tried to combine my love for nature and macro photography with this hub. I was delighted with the end result and found that the technique worked very well for me.

Thank you so much, especially for the vote up, awesome and pin.

Best wishes,

Sally

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on June 20, 2014:

Wow, I really like how you show taking apart a real tulip to get a feel for replicating a felted one. Great pics, useful technical information - what a great hub! Voted awesome and up and pinned.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on June 01, 2014:

tirelesstraveler

I am glad you have found the my felting instructions were clear and that the result was beautiful. Your comment is valued and very much appreciated, thank you so much.

Kind regards,

Sally

Judy Specht from California on May 31, 2014:

The clarity of your directions is amazing. Beautiful results. Since I have been following you I have been fascinated by how many felted wool masterpieces I have come across.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 05, 2014:

teach12345

I appreciate the very nice comment and more especially, your continued support. Thank you very much.

Sally

Dianna Mendez on May 04, 2014:

Wow, ver detailed and impressive coverage of this art. Lovely flower!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 04, 2014:

raymondphilippe

Thank you so much. I appreciate your continued support and your lovely comment.

Sally

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on May 04, 2014:

You keep amazing me what you can do with your imagination, patience and the right material. Beautiful.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 03, 2014:

mueblesdejardin

Yhank you very much. I am glad I was able to do this beautiful flower justice.

Best wishes

Sally

Muebles de jardin from madrid on May 03, 2014:

very nice fotos of tulips!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 02, 2014:

erorantes

You are so very welcome. Creating a hub can sometimes be a real abor of love but receiving such a nice comment makes it so worth while. Thank you so much. I hope you have a lovely week-end.

Sally

Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on May 02, 2014:

Hello miss Sally. I like your art's work. I admire your patience to create a beautiful tulip. I like your tulip. The colors are tone correctly. You did a fantastic well done creative hub. I love it. Thank you for showing your article.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on May 01, 2014:

Eiddwen

It is my pleasure and I do hope that things are going well with you!

I appreciate your visit as always. Thank you.

Sally

Eiddwen from Wales on May 01, 2014:

A wonderful hub Sally and thanks for sharing.

Eddy.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 29, 2014:

ocfireflies

So nice to find you back on my pages. I am so very grateful for your constant support. Thanks too for the vote +

Best wishes,

Sally

ocfireflies on April 29, 2014:

Sally,

YOU ARE TRULY ARE AMAZING! V+ for sure! Another stellar hub!

Best,

Kim

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 28, 2014:

MsDora

Thank you so much! I appreciate your visit as always and am delighted to receive the like on Facebook and a Vote up.

You have a lovely week

Sally

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on April 28, 2014:

Excellent! No wonder your creations seem so real. You look to nature itself for your inspiration for the innermost segment to the outer petals. Your instructions with photographs are very clear. Voted up and liked on Facebook.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 27, 2014:

randomcreative

So glad you were able stop by to read this Wet Felting Tutorial which I very much enjoyed writing and taking the images for. Thank you so much.

Best wishes,

Sally

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 27, 2014:

Fantastic photos and such a beautiful, colorful final result! Thanks for the detailed directions.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 26, 2014:

purl3agony

You are very welcome. I really appreciate your stopping by to comment. I so enjoyed creating this Hub and am delighted that you enjoyed it.

Thank you,

Sally

Donna Herron from USA on April 26, 2014:

Tulips are my favorite flowers and this is just an amazing tutorial to duplicate their beauty in felt! Great project! Thanks for sharing!!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 26, 2014:

FlourishAnyway

Glad that you enjoyed this Hub. I tried to put a different slant on the whole process and I am so glad you think it worked. I very much enjoyed creating this Hub.

Enjoy your week-end

Sally

Have a lovely week-end

Sally

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 26, 2014:

Hello DDE

You are so right, they don't last long at all. One really has to enjoy them whilst they are here with us.

Thanks for the vote up, useful, beautiful and awesome - that is so sweet of you.

Sally

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 26, 2014:

The finished product was beautiful and the process very interesting. You have the corner on this market! A true expert!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on April 26, 2014:

I had tulips just recently and it did not last longer. A beautiful flower with a vibrant color. Your helpful and always creative ideas are so interesting and informative. Voted up, useful, beautiful and awesome.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 26, 2014:

Faith Reaper

I feel so much better for having completed this Hub now. Sometimes it feels like giving birth. I don't know what it is about creativity. It seems to grab one by the craw and won't let you go until it is done and spent. I very much appreciate your comments, especially re my photography as this is another great love of mine and I find myself sometimes betwixt and between but am so glad that I am able to combine my two hobbies.

Thank you for the tweet, the pin and share and I do hope that you have a lovely week-end too.

Best wishes,

Sally

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 26, 2014:

Beth Eaglescliffe

I am delighted that you stopped by. I think you are short changing yourself. I am sure that anyone who followed these simple wet felting instructions with images could do a wonderful job.

Thank you for the vote up. It is much appreciated. You have a great week-end.

Sally

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 26, 2014:

Thank you Billy, I appreciate your visit as always and hope that you are having a wonderful week-end.

Sally

Faith Reaper from southern USA on April 26, 2014:

Dear Sally, you are a true artist and so wise to dissect a tulip to see exactly how it is made! This is such a beautiful hub visually and with your attention to detail as to how to make a wet felted tulip in a wire frame is exceptional.

Your instructions and photos are excellent and add much to helping the reader to visualize the making of the product to its completion.

Excellent work once again!

Up and more, tweeting, pinning and sharing

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Beth Eaglescliffe on April 26, 2014:

What an amazing artist you are Sally. Your results are stunning and so beautiful. The instructions and photos make it all look so easy, but I don't think my attempts would look as good as your flowers.

Voted up.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 26, 2014:

Another great addition to this series. Well done, Sally! I hope you have a wonderful weekend my friend.