What would any holiday celebration be without candles? What would any holiday celebration be without family? Imagine combining the two to bring this festival to another level by inviting our children to help us make these special celebratory candle holders with their very own hands!
The process of wet felting is very child friendly. It is, in essence, felting without the use of a traditional felting needle. It involves using heat, water, and soapy bubbles – combined with friction from our hands which grabs the wool fibers and felts them into place. What child doesn’t enjoy that?
Glass tea light candle holder
Wool roving in desired colors
Prepare your soapy water by pouring a large amount of soap into the bowl and add hot water to it so it is nice and soapy. If your children are helping, keep in mind their sensitive skin and don’t make the water too hot for them. We, as adults, can tolerate hotter temperatures than our wee ones can!
Separate the wool into thin layers. Wrap each layer of wool around the glass candle holder, criss- crossing the direction of the wool as you add each layer. Depending on how thick you would like it and what type of wool you use, four or five layers should suffice.
Begin very gently by scooping a bit of hot bubbly water in your free hand and rub it on the wool surrounding the candle holder. As you progress and the wool starts to grab onto itself, you may also quickly dip the candle holder into the bowl of bubbly water, but be careful not to soak it. As soon as you pull it back out, rub the wool gently with your fingers as it starts to felt and take the shape of the glass candle holder. As soon as it starts to cool, dip it in quickly again and keep working the wool. This process takes around 10 -15 minutes and at first seems like it‘s not working, but it is. The amount of time it takes depends on the hands of the felter. Try to remind your child to keep the wool as even as possible, but then again, their own style will add charm to their finished piece so allow them the freedom of expression!
If you notice that your wool is too thin, you may add additional layers as needed to even out thin spots. Your piece should be very soapy, as my daughter’s is in the above photo.
Then, place your candle holder onto a piece of bubble wrap so that the plastic bubbles are facing the candle holder and roll it up on a flat surface. Roll the item back and forth, and be sure to rub the plastic bubble wrap against the bottom of the candle holder, as well.
After about five minutes or so, you can unroll your candle holder and take a look. If it has been well-felted, you can lightly rinse the soap off and begin to dry it. Because of the glass, you have two options – drying in the sun or using a blow dryer. Using the blow dryer, because of the heat, helps to create a tighter felt, and also takes much less time for our eager little helpers to see the process unfold. After you blow it dry, you can periodically roll it in a towel and squeeze some of the water out and then blow dry again.
You will have a lip of wool that you should also dry. Pull it up, remove the glass candle holder, tuck the excess wool back down into the center, and replace the glass into the mold.
Your candle sleeve should look something like this. Now for the embellishments!
Needle Felting a Design
Felting board (or a larger sponge)
Wool in preferred colors
In my family, this step is where I take over. You may guide your own child’s participation based on their age and ability.
Begin by cutting a sponge to fit into the opening of the woolen mold.
Shape your intended design and with a protective pad underneath the mold, needle felt it into place with a few jabs into the wool. You do not need to go far down into the wool, as the barbs are near the top of the needle. And remember to always go in and out the same direction. Needles can break easily if you go in one way and try to come out at a different angle.
Continue on and when you are finished, place the glass candle holder back into the wool mold, light and enjoy!
While wool does have a natural flame retarding quality, never leave these candles unattended and maintain the same reasonable safety practices applicable to all open flames.
These make wonderful gifts for family and friends, especially when a sweet scented beeswax candle is burned within. You can also make several for the various seasons and holidays, while reusing the same glass votive. They are small and easy to store. Happy holidays!
Jennifer DiMonte is a waldorf inspired homeschooling momma of two loving, creative twin girls, a wife to her soul mate, and an animal rescuer who enjoys writing and photography in her spare time. She lives with her family and all their little fur babies in the mountains of Southern California. She has an etsy shop called Ancient Hearth and pens a blog by the same name.