A few years ago I shared a tutorial on How to Make a Wet Felted Lantern For Winter Solstice. This project has always been a favourite in our home. This year we wanted to try the same technique on mason jars to create a lantern with sturdier sides. The result: A beautiful felt lantern that can put on display and used year round!
Wet felting is a fun project for children of all ages. Older children, both those that enjoy the arts and those that don’t, really seem to enjoy this tactile project. Younger children also enjoy wet felting, but will need a helping hand from an older sibling or a parent to complete this project. I also suggest that you try the balloon felt lantern if you’re concerned that your child may drop the mason jar.
Note: While wet felting a mason jar lantern isn’t very difficult, it does take time. Be sure to allocate about an hour to complete this project.
- a wide-mouth quart or pint mason jar
- wool roving and/or batting (natural white)
- wool roving of various colours
- wool yarn
- tub of warm water (or a bathroom/kitchen sink)
- dish soap
- tealight candle
What kind of wool should you use?
For this project choose wool that works well for wet felting. Wool roving or wool batting work well for this purpose, just make sure it hasn’t been processed in some way that will prevent it from felting. For this project wool roving works quite well. The roving can be opened up into a tube-like shape and pulled over the jar. Wool batting works well too and sometimes felts a bit quicker.
I recommend using a natural white wool for the lantern and colourful pieces of wool yarn or roving to add a bits of colour.
Wool roving: Long pieces of wool that are usually about two to three inches thick.
Wool batting: Large pieces of wool that are made up of multiple layers of fiber like a blanket, sizes may vary.
You can purchase wool roving and batting at local knitting shops, craft shops or online. I highly recommend looking for locally sourced wool as it is often much better quality and more affordably priced.
How to Make a Wet Felted Lantern
1. Start by gathering your materials and setting up a work space. Cover a surface with a waterproof cloth or tarp and place a bin of warm soapy water with bottle a dish soap in the centre of the work space. Alternatively, fill a sink with warm soapy water instead.
2. Take a piece of wool roving and gently pull it apart to create a tube like shape. Slip the tube of wool over the jar and snip off any excess. If using wool batting, separate the wool into thinner layers and cut out a piece that will wrap around the entire jar. Take a piece of 100% wool yarn and wrap in around the jar to secure the wool.
3. Take pieces of coloured wool roving to decorate the jar. It helps to tuck the roving into the yarn to keep it in place. Take a second piece of 100% wool yarn and wrap in around the jar to secure the colourful wool roving in place.
4. Wrap the entire jar in a piece of cheesecloth and secure it with yarn. This step secures the wool in place and makes the first stage of wet felting so much easier for children.
5. Time for wet felting! Don’t dip the jar into the bin of water or sink! I know it’s very tempting but the wool will get super soggy and droopy. Instead dip your hands into the warm water and pat the wool with wet hands. Add dish soap to your hands and pat onto the jar. Dip, pat, dip and pat.
6. Continue to pat and press the wool around the jar, adding water and soap as needed. As the wool begins to felt and it will become sturdier and tighten around the jar. Continue patting and pressing for about 10 minutes.
7. Remove the cheesecloth and add a few drops of soap onto the wool and start rubbing it gently. Wet felting takes time and patience. The more time you spend patting, rubbing and massaging the wool the better the wool will felt.
8. When the wool fibers look dense and smooth the lantern in felted. Gently rinse the wool and then roll the lantern in a dry towel to remove excess water. Leave the lantern in a warm place to dry overnight.
Feel free to add a few finishing details to your felted lantern.
- Snip away any excess wool that’s poking over the lip of the jar.
- Add a handle by making a braided yarn rope and wrapping it around the top of the jar.
- Add embroidery details to the wool using a needle and embroidery thread.
It’s alright if your lantern has thin in spots. Don’t worry about the imperfections, it will still be a beautiful lantern. If the wool is falling apart it’s probably because it was not felted long enough. One quick fix is to use a felting needle to tack the pieces together, glue might work in a pinch too.