Make a Felt Bead Necklace
Follow our step-by-step guide to make this bright and colourful necklace that will liven up any outfit
You will need:
merino felt tops in colours of your choice
ribbon (narrow satin and organza used here)
beads as spacers between felt balls (optional)
coil ends or end fasteners (optional)
lobster claw clasp
This introduction to felt-making is by Emma Ashworth. Emma is a jewellery designer maker and teacher with a particular passion for all things colourful and textile in jewellery.
Cover your work space with old towels to protect it from water. Have a spare towel to hand to dry your hands. Take a jug and add some hot water (you should be able to comfortably put your hands in it) and a small squirt of fairy liquid, stir. Tease out a small tuft of wool from the main hank and thin it out. If you want your beads to be exactly the same size, weigh the wool but you can do it by eye if you prefer.
Roll the felt tuft up into a ball in one direction, around your fingers if you find it helps. Tease another tuft of wool fibres out from the main hank and wrap it around the first one at right angles to the first. Very gently roll the start of the ball in the cupped palms of your hands, until it forms more of a ball shape. Dunk the ball in the soapy water and roll gently again. Keep rolling, adding a little more water if it starts to dry out. The ball should start to harden and tighten up.
Once it has started to shrink, you can add more fibres around it to make the ball larger. Always wrap two tufts, one in each direction. Wet them, start to felt them and then add more fibres again if needed. You can make the ball as big as you like this way and add more substantial tufts at a time if required, once the core has been started.
Roll much more vigorously with more pressure and flattish palms. The felt ball should become smaller and firmer. If it becomes more oval shaped push and squash on the ends and try to roll more evenly.
Make a central ball for your necklace, which will be bigger than all the others. This time use two colours of wool wrapped randomly on your outer most layer to make a pretty variegated bead.
Make the remainder of the beads you need. Make two of each size and colour, in graduated sizes. Lay out your felt beads and any other beads you wish to use. Use a darning needle threaded with ribbon(s) to go through each bead in the correct order. Slide the beads to the centre of your ribbon(s).
Trim the ribbons to the correct length for your necklace. Use pliers to attach the necklace ends. For coil ends pull the ribbon through and put a small knot in it. Then pull it back inside the coil and squash the last coil to hold it all in place. For the “end fastener” squash each end in over the ribbon in the middle. Open one jump ring and attach one end of the necklace and the lobster clasp to it. Close. Open and attach a second jump ring to the other end of the necklace and close. You could also leave the ribbons without clasps and just tie for an over the head length necklace.
Make earrings and a ring
You can put felt beads on head pins to create dangly earrings. Experiment with creating oval beads to get a longer earring.
To make a ring you can glue a cluster of smaller beads to a ring base.
Please Note: Our classes are suitable for those aged 16 and over & for health and safety reasons, all students need to wear closed toe shoes when coming to the workshop. If you have any access requirements, please contact us before booking a course. And due to our small class sizes we are unable to offer transfers or refunds on our courses once booked. Please make sure you can make the date before booking. Thanks LJS x