Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wet felted juggling balls
I'm making juggling balls tonight. This is a great way to recycle used golf balls! I wrap the golf ball in three light layers of wool roving, and then add wisps of various colors of roving on the surface as decoration.
I love the transformation that wool goes through on its way to becoming felt! Magic indeed. On the left in the above picture, you see the golf ball wrapped in the roving, just before the felting process.
I've wet down the middle ball with hot, soapy water. I've started gently tossing it back from hand to hand, to create a kind of skin on the ball. Felt happens when wool fibers are exposed to water and agitation, and microscopic scales on the fibers kind of velcro themselves to each other. Heat and soap help the process along.
The ball on the right has been rolled around between my hands for awhile. The fibers have locked together, and shrunk down tight around the golf ball. From here, I toss the juggling balls into my clothes dryer. They thump around and make a gawd-awful racket, but the heat and agitation finishes the process of hardening the felt.
The finished balls end up looking like this:
The golf ball core gives these juggling balls a nice weight and solidity for throwing. The felt coat gives the balls a nice bit of grip, so they don't slide out of your hands quite as easily. My juggler friends give these a thumbs up.