Fun Ideas for Using Felt Beads

Dec 15, 2008

The Felt Bead Challenge

A month ago I asked the staff at Interweave to choose a felt bead and make something with it.  Anything!  They could add any materials they liked, use any techniques, and make any kind of finished object. 

Many of the volunteers came from accounting, circulation, sales & marketing, advertising--jobs where your skills with needles, thread, glue, wire, yarn, or paper are generally not part of your job description.  And that was part of the fun.  After all, I'm sure many of you spend time with non-beading family and friends over the holidays.  A get-together can be the perfect time to share your love of beading and maybe pick up a few new beading buddies.  All you need to get them addicted (I mean, interested) is a simple project that appeals to a wide range of ages and skills--a project just like this!

The Gallery

Felted ornaments and felted creatures were a popular choice for project designs.  There were only a handful of jewelry designs, including Kerry's peace sign necklace pictured here.  I love all the shell beads and green glass--makes me feel warmer just looking at it!  In addition to the staff, I also invited several active Beading Daily members to play.  Be sure to check out Sheila's ceiling fan pull, Billy's earring holder/pincushion, and Karen's beaded ornament!  

View the Felt Bead Gallery

Learn to Make--and Decorate--Your Own Felted Beads

Many thanks to Artgirlz for donating our felted beads!  (Visit the Quilting Arts store to buy a bag of these same beads.)  Or, if you're feeling adventuresome, you can learn to make your own felt beads.  Here are a few places to start exploring:

  • Easy Felted Beads by Amy Clarke Moore explains the wet felt method of beadmaking. (PDF download)
  • Wool Beads by Mary MacVoy explains the needle-felting method. (PDF download)
  • Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads by Carol Huber Cypher.  The felted beads in this book will really open your mind to the possibilites--there are beads that look like lampwork, calla lilies, polymer clay cane beads, and gemstones!  Includes an overview of the felt-making process, including tools, materials, and basic techniques, as well as 25 projects.
  • "Have a Ball!" by Allison and Tracy Stilwell in the upcoming January/Feburary 2009 issue of Step by Step Beads will offer some additional ideas for decorating your finished felted beads.
  • Quilting Arts Gifts also has some lovely felted and stitched and beaded ornaments (see photo), as well as some funky "snow people" that are strung together in a garland for a mantlepiece.  The ornaments project includes instructions for making your own felt balls.

Bead Star Update:  Check your email tomorrow--Tuesday, December 16, 2008--for a look at the first issue of Bead Star!  Bead Star is for sale at bookstores and bead shops tomorrow and of course, you can always buy a copy here.  Rules for next year will also be posted on the Bead Star website sometime that same day--get ready!

Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.

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MistyD3 wrote
on Dec 15, 2008 10:01 AM
Felt beads are wonderfully versatile and surprisingly solid! I used one as a base for a beaded thistle when creating something to honor my heritage. Since then I've experimented with needle felting scroll work onto felt beads and really enjoy finding new ways to use them. I have a few examples at my blog - Great article and fun challenge results!
Zaz wrote
on Dec 15, 2008 10:13 AM
felting beads is childplay. here's what you have to have on hand: option 1: tiny scraps of wool from different projects at least 60% wool, so save all those tiny left overs in a celll bag that would go in the trash. you need to open your faucet as hot a water as you can take it, wet your hand and scraps in them, rub on the soap you use for your hands, a good one is regular soap de marseilles, the simplest the better. start rolling those scraps into a ball, rinse under that hot water resoap, reroll, etc till you feel the ball is catching. you can also do the same thing using roving, make sure to take small amounts and "open" that bit of roving so it can absorb the soap and water.
LisaC@90 wrote
on Dec 16, 2008 5:11 PM
Wow, that peace sign necklace is very creative! Cool and fun! I also wanted to let Michelle know that I look forward to these daily emails and give you many many kudos for continuing this on a daily basis! Thanks for all the fun and inspirational ideas as well as keeping all of us beaders connected. Take care! Lisa C.,