My biggest fear is experimenting with a new technique and it not working to my satisfaction. And then it becomes a 'waste of time' and I so fear wasting time on something that doesn't work! I need to get my head around experimentation not being a waste of time but being an opportunity to develop creativity!I'm with you Allison! I actually suffered this EXACT set back last night with my pretty felted soap:
I believe I worked on this little sucker for about 1 hour following this excellent tutorial on felting soap "rocks" though I was using green wool instead of natural gray. The tutorial is excellent. The idea is very clear and the steps outlined thoroughly.
But I can't felt a soap to save my life! This is what it looks like right now:
My soap isn't passing a "pinch" test of any kind. The roving easily pulled right off again and is bunching up around the soap shape like a weird lumpy sock. This does not look good, and as Allison mentioned, I feel like I wasted a solid hour of my life rubbing the stupid thing for no purpose.
Maybe I'm just not patient enough for this technique? Maybe the merino wool I'm using is the wrong stuff for this job? I have no idea!
Another punch to my creative ego is with the green roving itself. I dyed this wool in a crock pot and rinsed it thoroughly and thought for sure it was color fast. Again, I am wrong.
I saw my beautiful green roving start to bleed. And bleed. And bleed. If anyone washes their hands with this soap, they're going to end up with a nice green afterglow to go with it! I don't know about you, but that is a side effect of soap that not many people are going to like.
So what's a girl to do? I had the wool, I had the soap. Should I continue to try making this project work and learning how to felt soap or should I chuck this project in the trash and wash my hands of it?
Speaking in terms of fear - how much soap and roving am I willing to waste in this process? How much time am I willing to devote to this silly project?
I decided not to give up and continue playing with felting soap. There's just too many options I haven't tried. It could be the type of wool, it could be my patience level, it could be how hot the water was. I decided to give this 1 more hour of my time. In 1 hour, I will be able to say if felting soap is for me or not.
This was an easy decision to make - 1 hour investment because I asked myself a single simple question: how much do I want to learn this?
Do I want to one day be able to felt soap in my sleep and sell it by the truckful? No. Do I want to become a master soap felter (if there is such a thing)? No.
I would like to know how to do this so I can make some presents for friends. That's really it. This is not a lofty, ambitious goal, but it is important enough to me to give it 1 more hour. I'd like to be able to give someone something nice that I've made that isn't a quilt that's taken hundreds of hours to complete. A bar of felted soap seems to fit the bill.
So I pulled my materials together, plopped down at the kitchen table and here's the mess I've made:
Soap-wise, I pulled off almost all the green merino wool and replaced it with some very rough white wool (no idea what kind or prep) which instantly felted nicely. So I've answered one important question - it's not me, it's the wool!
Good to know! I'm really glad I stuck with this project. Had I given up after the green failure, I would never have realized it was the type of wool I was using that was the problem. Lesson learned!
After felting the soap properly, I decided to try felting other shapes - balls and long twisty shapes too. These were less successful, but fun to experiment within that 1 hour time frame.
When it came down to it, this project leaves me really pumped to work with more new techniques. Instead of blowing up the whole project out of proportion, I'm now going to approach everything as a 1 hour investment.
See what happens in 1 hour. Is the project done? Has the technique worked or utterly failed? Do I like it or not? How can I improve?
At this point, I don't feel that I've mastered soap felting at all. I've managed to cover one soap bar passably well with white roving, but it's not very pretty. The thing I'm most happy about is the wool actually seems to be holding this time rather than falling right back off again.
But it will take another investment of another hour to make another soap, then another, then another until this is a technique I can trust to make decent felted soap for friends and family. This time will not be wasted, but I really can't logically expect my first 10 or 15 soaps to be all that great.
Ultimately I think we have to honor the spirit of learning. Time is never wasted if you have learned something new. Materials have not been wasted if they have helped you understand what works and what doesn't.
So here's to the process! Life is hardly perfect and rarely pretty, but with time and patience, you will find what works. Or at least end up with very clean wrinkly hands in the process!
Let's go play,