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Good clean fun: N.S. woman makes felt soap covers inspired by Cape Breton landscape

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A Cape Breton woman has turned a pandemic pastime into a small business inspired by the island she calls home.

Susanne Shearing of Grand Etang, N.S., began making felt-covered soap in 2021 and started The Shearing Felt Co. a year later.

“It’s just become a bit of an obsession, something I never would have thought I’d be doing three years ago,” she says. “It’s kind of a weird little hobby to take off, but it’s taken off.”

Shearing says while people have been felting for thousands of years, she never heard of felt soap covers before she started making them, and didn’t know what they were for.

“If you are having dexterity issues with your hands, gripping things, it’s nice because the bar of soap is slippery, the felt will help you hang onto the soap.”

The other benefit of felted soap is that it can make the product last longer than a regular bar of soap.

“What happens as you use it is the wool will felt and shrink around the soap,” she says.

Shearing’s process involves taking a bar of soap and wrapping it with wet felt. She then puts it in a mesh bag under running water and rubs her hand over it.

Susanne Shearing wraps a bar of soap with felt. (Darryl Reeves/CTV Atlantic)

“As you agitate it with your hand, the fibers will start meshing together. Then I let it sit and dry, probably for 24 hours,” she says. “And essentially, the next two-to-three hours is poking your wool.”

Shearing’s finished products feature images of the local landscape, complete with lighthouses, fishing boats and plenty of animals – and she doesn’t have to look hard to find inspiration.

Examples of Susanne Shearing's felt-covered-soap on display. (Darryl Reeves/CTV Atlantic)

“Out one window, I have the ocean, I have Cheticamp Island, I have eagles flying around, we have harriers, we had a moose on occasion coming up into our yard,” she says.

Shearing adds she’s been “pleasantly surprised” by how well her pieces have been received, and never would of thought people would want to buy something she made.

“People contact me just to say how unique it is, how beautiful it is, and every time that they look at it, it puts a smile on their face and makes them feel happy,” she says. “Honestly, that’s quite a compliment for some little thing that I made. If it makes somebody happy then that’s all I can ask for.”

Shearing’s products can be found on her Instagram page.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Darryl Reeves.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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