• If you’ve reached The Gentle Roller website, it's likely you’ll already know what felt is – and we're not referring to industrial felt but ‘artisan felt’.

    But if you are just browsing and would like an introduction the term felting refers to taking animal fibres and working them through a process of adding water, soap and agitation to convert it into a tightly cohesive fabric. The fibres are most often sheep wool but also alpaca, mohair, angora, camel, yak and some other furs. These fibres have a barbed or scaled surface texture. More or larger fibres felt best (sheep wool) while fewer or smaller barbs are more difficult (mohair).

    Animal fibres will felt: plant and man-made fibres do not (although they can be incorporated into a felted item).

    If you are making nuno felt ie merging wool or other fibres onto a carrier fabric (silk/cotton), you need to get the fibres to migrate through the fabric. Felting is NOT reversible.

    The goal of good felt making is to control the agitation to create a consistent and even felt.

    There are a wide variety of felts to suit a wide variety of applications. “Industrial” felt is employed in applications such as sound deadening in cars, whereas “artisan” felt is highly sought after by the fashion industry.

    Artisan felt is typically made by placing the required wool and or other materials onto a flexible sheet of plastic film (or other suitable material). The materials are laid out by hand to form a desired aesthetic. There are several methods for rolling felt but the Gentle Roller felt rolling machine uses the method where once the material and design has been artistically laid out, it is wetted down and then overlaid by a further sheet of plastic film. This sandwich construction is then wrapped about a suitable carrier (in our case the drive roller) and then secured in place on the roller. Elastic band or other suitable restraint are usually quite functional.

    Without the aid of a rolling machine, the wrapped bundle is then rolled on a tabletop to agitate the material.

    From time to time the artisan will inspect the material wrapped about the roller, and potentially vary the amount and location of the pressure that they apply there to achieve the desired degree of felting in the desired locations, e.g. to achieve uniform felting.

    Selecting and laying out the material is skillful and rewarding, whereas the rolling is hard work. By way of example, producing an item featuring superfine merino and silk fibres, and silk carrier, can entail up to 6,000 full rotation rolls of the roller. Larger items require more rolling. Producing a coat formed of artisan felt can entail in excess of 40,000 rolls. Whilst the production of artisan felt is a rewarding craft that produces beautiful results, many artisans give the craft away simply because the rolling becomes too hard for them. Accordingly, attempts have been made to automate the rolling process. These machines are typically industrial, expensive, not pleasing to the eye, do not give the user control over the process and don’t replicate the hand crafted felt process.

    The Gentle Roller wet felting machine has been designed to overcome all the shortcomings of earlier machines and reduce the back-aching work of manual rolling and give the felt maker time to concentrate on the important aspects of their craft.

    The Gentle Roller wet felting machine truly is the felt makers friend.

  • The Gentle Roller exclusive Fulling Drum

    The production of felt can be considered a three-part process;

    1. The laying of your materials, which is a discrete activity.  Historically, the basic raw material is woolen fibres or fleece.  Wool fibres have a barbed or scaled surface texture which make them ideal for felting.

    Sheep fibres have the most barbs making it the easiest fibre to felt, but almost all animal fur or fleece can be successfully felted.  Alpaca, goat, rabbit, yak and camel are all popular fibres that can all be felted but with increasing levels of difficulty as the barbs become fewer or smaller.  

    Your laying may also include the introduction of a carrier fabric (usually silk or cotton).  Here you need to get the fibres to migrate through the fabric in order to attach it and incorporate it in the 'felt'.  The use of a carrier fabric is known as Nuno felt.

    Finally, your laying may include embellishments like silk strands, which do not felt, but whose fibres are captured by the wool (or other animal) fibre to become part of the finished item.


    2.  Next comes the rolling of the materials to a pre-felt. 

    During pre-felting, the goal is to open the barbs of the fibres, usually with a high pH soap solution, twist and tangle the fibres together by sliding them against each other with the aid of a felting solution and light agitation, embed them through the carrier fabric (if nuno felting), or entangle them in the embellishments.

    The goal is not to shrink the materials but to ensure good meshing of the component parts.   

    The Gentle Roller uses the rolling process to create the pre-felt. 

    The Gentle Roller wet felt rolling machine

    The material may shrink very marginally as the fibres start to become entangled and matted together into a cohesive piece of material, and in nuno felt, the fibres migrate through the carrier fabric. 

    The more rolling you do, the more entangled and cohesive your pre-felt becomes.  Poor quality pre-felt will fall apart on drying while good quality pre-felt can be gently handled and cut into shapes for future felting.

    Good quality pre-felt is the precursor to good quality felt.  


    3.  To make the finished felt you then need to “full” your material. 

    The Gentle Roller wet felting machine Fulling Drum

    Fulling involves shrinking the pre-felt into a strong permanent new form which is “felt”.  The process requires a more vigorous agitation of the pre-felt and usually the addition of warm water.  During fulling the scales/barbs grab and collapse onto each other and the fibres shrink on themselves. This results in the noticeable shrinkage of the pre-felt material (sometimes by as much as 50% in length and width, or a 75% reduction in surface area) as the fibres mesh to create a denser, fully cohesive felt fabric.

    Fulling is often performed by hand, agitating and kneading (sometimes throwing and bashing) the pre-felt.  As with rolling, this style of fulling can be labour intensive and hard work.  The fulling drum performs the fulling process by gently tumbling your pre-felt item for you thus saving you time and energy. 

    Simply place your item in the fulling drum, if it is too dry then add a splash of warm, soapy water and set it on its cycle.   Check it regularly (every 150-200 cycles) to see how much shrinkage or fulling has occurred and to unravel the edges that have a tendency to curl inwards during the fulling process.

    When you have happily fulled your material to a suitable final size you then finally have a “felted” item.

    The Gentle Roller Fulling Drum 

    In reality, pre-felting and fulling are a part of a continuum.  When to stop the gentler rolling / meshing / pre-felting, and when to start more aggressive shrinkage / fulling, are personal choices and depend on your objectives and familiarity with the materials.

    Ultimately, when you have happily pre-felted and fulled your material to a suitable final quality and size, you have a “felted” item.


    And here is how they did it in the old days:
  • The price shown should be your local currency.

    You pay in your local currency.
    We accept USD, AUD, GPB, EUR, CAD and a few others.

    There are no exchange rate conversion fees. You simply pay the price you see.

  • Warranty Policy

    We don't have a complex legal document covering warranties or mishaps because if anything should go wrong we want to work with you to make sure your Gentle Roller functions as described and is in full working order. Our policy is simple:

    ALL Gentle Rollers are covered with a 2,000,000 cycles or 2 year warranty* whichever comes first.

    If you don’t use it much, your Gentle Roller is covered for 2 years!

    If you use it commercially, your Gentle Roller is also covered for 2 years, or 2 million cycles, whichever comes first, just like everyone else!

    And we’ll warrant every part of the machine*.

    The Gentle Roller has been designed with minimum moving parts, a robust design and minimum potential for failure. If something does go wrong, our goal is to help you fix it and get your Gentle Roller up and running in the shortest possible time.

    Any failures are readily fixable with a replacement part and basic tools.

    Should you have any issues with your Gentle Roller please contact us in the first instance at philip@gentleroller.com.au

    We will be happy to work with you to resolve the issue.

  • Your Gentle Roller PCB (the computer board controller of the machine) comes with a built-in cycle count and clock that tells us how many cycles you have done from your date of purchase and how many hours your machine has worked. The numbers are ‘hard coded’ onto a special chip every few minutes so the count is always up to date within a few dozen cycles.

    If anything fails, we can recover the number with a few commands on the control panel and determine exactly how many cycles you have used your machine. The numbers are also recoverable even if your PCB fails.

    Rest assured that should anything go wrong we’ve got you covered.

    * warranty applies against faulty material and workmanship (not against fair wear and tear).

  • It works the same way as hand rolling your felt on a pool noodle or similar object. When you hand roll, the felt is agitated between the pool noodle and the surface you are rolling on. With The Gentle Roller, the felt is agitated between the drive roller and the two or three idle rollers.

  • That's a matter of how well you use The Gentle Roller. We like to say that The Gentle Roller is as nuanced as you are as a felt maker.

    What we can also say is that regardless of your experience level as a felt maker, The Gentle Roller will give you more consistent felting than hand rolling because whatever set-up you choose is repeated over and over - The Gentle Roller never tires as you will when you do it by hand.

  • When felting, there are four key control functions and each have default min/max settings.

    Speed: You control the speed from 50% to 100% of maximum motor speed (Max approx 100 RPM). The default start speed is 50%

    Cycle Count: You control how many cycles, or rotations of the drive roller, you would like to do from 50-10,000 before The Gentle Roller stops. The default cycle count is 1000 cycles (Equal to about 130 full length manual rolls)

    Forward Rotation: You control the number of forward rotations of the drive roller from 0.5 to 3.0 rotations. The default setting is 2.0

    Reverse Rotation: You control the number of reverse rotations of the drive roller from 0.5 to 3.0 rotations. The default setting is 2.0.

    The importance of these settings will become more obvious as you watch the tutorials and become familiar with what works best for your style of felting.

  • Handmade is an interesting concept that some would argue is virtually unachievable.

    Putting that extreme position aside, I’ll begin with a comment by BigCommerce.com, “Some online communities state that the terms "hand-assembled," "handcrafted" and "hand-altered" are acceptable and synonymous with handmade. Those words insinuate that though the fundamental materials weren't built from scratch, the seller has added his or her own twist to the product.

    The recurring issue with the term "handmade" is that some crafts incorporate both hands and machinery during crafting. For example, a garment made with store-bought fabric and sewn on a sewing machine might be considered handmade by some, but not others. Woodworking is a very hands-on process, though it typically includes a variety of tools that make the final products possible."

    Now my own slant.

    Michelangelo couldn’t have carved David without hammers and chisels and a crane to pick it up. But David was surely his! Pollock couldn’t have painted half his works without a trapeze to suspend him – he had tools that were not handmade, but the work was surely his! No one quibbles about David being made by the hands of Michelangelo, or Blue Poles being made by Pollock’s own hand.

    Handmade silk cloth is woven on a loom, so are handmade carpets, a tailor has a sewing machine, a print maker uses a press, a potter uses a wheel, a jeweller uses a diamond cutter and a soldering iron … and I could go on. Then there are the input raw materials, are they handmade?

    Every craft has its raw materials and its tools, yet the output of the skilled craftsperson is (usually) considered handmade. The underlying reason for this is the product’s uniqueness, the possibility of flaws or errors and the fact that no two items, however hard you try, are exactly the same.

    The Gentle Roller is a tool for felt makers. The work is the work of the felt maker alone. No two pieces are ever the same. The finished item is as handmade as any other artistic endeavour … and I could add, as handmade as Michelangelo’s David or Pollock’s Blue Poles.

  • While we recommend two-way rotation there are certain circumstances when one way rotation is preferable. All the standard settings (see Q: What control do I have?) can be changed by the user. By changing forward or reverse rotations to zero The Gentle Roller will roll in one direction only.

    It is our experience that oscillated rolling (patented) produces better felt than one direction rolling as it is the agitation that induces the felting action.

  • There has been a great deal of design work to ensure minimum opportunities for break down.

    If something goes wrong, we will work closely with you to resolve the issue.

    In most cases if the assembly housing or the rollers themselves have an issue they can be attended to without any tools other than a soft hammer and an Allen key.

    If the motor or PCBs fail, they can be replaced and you'll only need a screw driver.

    That said, our test units have completed over 8,000,000 cycles and they are still going strong.

  • The power pack is approved for Australian, USA, UK and EU standards and will come complete with a plug most suited to your address.

    It is a 24V DC, 2 Amp power pack (using max 48 watts)

  • Don't worry. The PCB board has a built-in torque over-ride function. If the drive roller is interfered with or becomes "stuck" or "jammed" in any way the PCB senses the stress on the motor and will simply switch off, stop the machine and reboot back to the main menu function.

    The power over-ride won't interfere with your felting but is at a low enough setting that no injury could occur before it engages and closes down the motor.

  • The honest answer is NO.

    But so far there is only one fabric we have had problems with.

    There is a material known as Devoré (also called burnout). Devoré techniques uses blended fabrics which combine protein-based fibres such as silk with cellulose-based fibres such as viscose, cotton, or rayon, in order to create the 'burnout' pattern.

    The Gentle Roller can felt Devoré with silk and cotton, and viscose and rayon provided they are not treated for waterproofing.

    However, there are cheap copies of the Devoré process available in fabric retailers, typically called “burnout fabric” which are definitely not silk. Some are made with a blend of viscose and polyamide.

    The viscose is the velour type material - this absorbs water which is good. The main mesh fabric though is polyamide - it is waterproof at worst and water resistant at best and it won't hold or carry water.

    When you try nuno felt using a carrier fabric that is a waterproof mesh material like polyamide, especially with a fine weave, the water gets pushed aside - it doesn’t want to go near the polyamide - there is no 'wicking' effect - and the water takes the wool with it resulting in clumping of the wool.

    Polyamide is an interesting material because you can felt with a blend of woollen and polyamide fibers, but usually the blend is 5%-10% and a maximum of 20% polyamide. The polyamide doesn’t actually felt, it just gets tangled in the woollen fibres.

    But you cannot felt onto a polyamide mesh (or probably any mesh that is water resistant or water proof and has no 'wicking' effect.)

  • It's as quiet as a library. See video under the Other Things video section.

  • Bench Space Required: 165cm L x 36cm W x 25cm H (plus hand access).

    It weighs less than 28kg when all rollers are loaded or the fulling drum is in use.

  • Bench Space Required: 135cm L x 36cm W x 25cm H (plus hand access)

    It weighs less than 24kg when all rollers are loaded or the fulling drum is in use.

  • Carton Sizes:
    Roller Assembly: 148cm x 36cm x 15cm Weight 19kg
    Fulling Drum Panels: 124cm x 16cm x 12cm Weight 6kg
    Fulling Drum Components: 26cm x 24cm x 23cm Weight 2kg
    Control Housing: 38cm x 29cm x 29cm Weight 8kg

  • Carton Sizes:
    Roller Assembly: 118cm x 36cm x 15cm Weight 15kg
    Fulling Drum Panels: 94cm x 16cm x 12cm Weight 4kg
    Fulling Drum Components: 26cm x 24cm x 23cm Weight 2kg
    Control Housing: 38cm x 29cm x 29cm Weight 8kg