This file is a collection of various messages having the common idea of "Protecting the Feltmaker's Hands. I have done a limited amount of editing. The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors. Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the orignator(s). Pat Spark, Manager of the Feltmaker's List.

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Article from North American Felters' Network on "Taking Care of Dry, Cracked Hands", February 1997.  New posts to list regarding hand care.  

The following is an article from Issue 19 of the North American Felter's Newsletter (non-electronic publication) February, 1997.  Pat Spark
*In the last newsletter I asked folks for their remedies for taking care of the dry, cracked hands feltmakers often get. I also asked this same question on the internet feltmakers list. I thought that you folks might be interested in the replies:
*Pat's question to the internet: I am always looking for the perfect product for my dry skin. I seem to get dry, rough skin on my hands after gardening, but when I am felting it turns slick and without fingerprints feeling, tight but not dry. It is the tightness that I am trying to alleviate. I also have terribly dry elbows and heels. Nothing to do with felting, but still requiring some kind of skin care. How about you folks from dry climates? You must have even more problems with dry hands than those of us who live in the wet areas of the Pacific Northwest.
*Pat Spark's evaluation of the hand creams she's tried:
Avon Moisture Therapy, Extra Strength Creme for Extremely Dry Skin. Good for felting hands, but not gardening hands. Does not help elbows, heels. Slight smell, not too unpleasant. Absorbs well. Available from Avon dealer. (Given to me as a present, I don't know the price)
Creative Hands. Great for gardening hands, helps felting hands. Pleasant smell. Does not help elbows or heels. Absorbs very well. Designed for quilters, stitchers and other kinds of needle artists. Available at Jo-Anne Fabric Stores, Hancock Fabric Stores. $4.50 (US) for 4 oz.
Touch of Mink Moisturizer. Weird smell. Good general moisturizer. Great for elbows (works the best of anything I've tried for my elbows if I apply it at least twice a day.) Only OK for felting, gardening hands. Expensive, available from the company or at state fairs. 1-800-547-9164
Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Cream. (Enriched with Vitamin E) Good for felting hands. I sometimes use it before I start felting to act as a barrier cream against the water. Good for heels. Not too good for gardening hands. Odorless. Doesn't absorb as well as the other creams.. Inexpensive, available at any pharmacy or retail drug store.
Working Hands Creme. This creme is probably my favorite of all of the products I've mentioned. I love the way the thick creme works in well and yet makes my hands feel silky. It is also good for my dry elbows and heels if I use it frequently. Unscented, moderately inexpensive, available from Working Hands Creme, Inc.; PO Box 216; Joseph, OR 97846 1-800-389-2400

*On a trip last summer, I "discovered" an herbal salve that is very good for chapped, sore skin. It is made by a woman named Denise Tracy. Her company is a small cottage industry in Mogollon, NM and she originally developed the formula for Grand Canyon river runners and hikers. It is called "Super Salve" and contains fresh organic herbs, pure bee's wax and pure essential oils, at a very reasonable price. Contact Denise at: The Super Salve Co.; Route 10; Box 300; Mogollon, NM 88039 USA (505) 539-2768 Julie DeVlieg (NAFN reader from Washington State)
*Sometimes I slather my hands with handcream and then put on surgeon's gloves. They're thin enough to let you feel the felt and when you're through, your hands are softer than when you started. I like Wool Wax Creme from Marcha Labs in Montana. You can get it from Midstate Livestock Supply. (Wool Wax Creme is available from manufacturer, Marcha Labs PO Box 186, Terry MT, 59349 USA. Price was $7 including S&H for 8 oz, less in bulk. If you're getting other stuff too, it's just as cheap from Mid States Livestock Supplies, 1-800-841-9665. Cost $3.95 for 8 oz, but the S&H would bring it up to about the same.) Gretchen Becker (feltmakers list)
* The best thing I have found for rough hands is- equal parts of A- lemon juice (from the lemon not a bottle) B- Whiskey (no Im not having you on!) C- glycerine. Shake well before use. This is really the best cure for dry cracked heels I've ever used, also good on elbows. Cheap to make, a little goes a long way. I've also been told that Amway produces a glycerine and honey cream that is very good. To take off the rough edges straight after you've finished, try a little lemon juice and white sugar- it leaves your hands nice and smooth. Lisa from Murchison NZ (feltmakers list)
*Pat - You can get Vaseline to work in easier if you rub it in with a littlewater! Susan Krueger (feltmakers list) (See my message above. Pat)
*My favorite hard-working hand cream is The Hoofmaker by Straight Arrow. It was originally made for horses' hooves, yes, and is still less expensive if you buy it at a feed store or in the pet department at Walmart. It smells like chapstick and soaks in very well. When I'm working with polymer clay, my hands dry out terribly. Putting Hoofmaker on first and letting it dry before I start working really stops that problem. It's not so effective as a barrier cream for wet working like felting, but it's great afterward. The nicest part is that it works in without leaving my hands feeling greasy. It's supposed to be very good for nails, too, but I've always had tough nails, so I can't say. Helen Fleischer (feltmakers list)
*I also use Calendula ointments and creams with Calendula. But I work from within. I take an organic essential fatty oil supplement, which is a mixture of Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils. The particular brand of supplement I'm now taking is "Nature's Secret Ultimate Oil". Deb (feltmakers list)
* I like Suave's new DermaCure--nice and thick, not nearly as expensive as many high end things and available at my grocery store! Ruth Walker (feltmakers list)
*As a farmer and fiberartist, my hands are perpetually in need of RX -- I like good, old-fashioned Cornhuskers lotion. It doesn't smell as pretty as some of the more up-scale lotion lines; however, it does the job and its CHEAP! Debbie Littell (feltmakers list)
*The hand cream I find work the best is Niva cream, (not the lotion). At about $3.50 a bottle it is a good value. It works great on elbows and feet. It is a bit oily, but that might be the secret for creams to work, i.e. they replace your natural oil. Earlier some one wrote in about Udder Cream in the pump jar colored like a black and white cow. That is nice cream for knitters of store bought yarn, but really not tough enough for working hands. There is something called Bag Balm used on cows udders when they are sore. That is very good, but does have an odor. It comes in a square green tin. It is sold in drug, farm and Target type stores. (I do not sponsor any products or stores, these are only the ones I find useful) Lois Kelley (feltmakers list)
*I have been reading with interest the posts on creams for rough hands. I have had very good luck using an apricot scrub on my hands first, then using lotion or balm. It sounds weird, but you really need to remove the rough, drv skin first and then moisture and sooth. We (my husband and I) use Bag Balm (the green tin) or udder cream (black and white splotchs). But using the apricot scrub once a week or so really does help. Virginia Hewson (feltmakers list)
*It's a matter of pH; soap is alkaline. After felting, I rinse my hands and while they are still wet, I pour about 1/4 tsp. of vinegar (acid) into my wet palm. I use what-ever kind I have around, usually its apple cider vine-gar. I rub the vinegar around, rinse it off and dry my hands. Instant relief, available in my local kitchen cabinet! Ayala Talpai (NAFN reader from Oregon)


*Kathy Neal, March 29, 2001.  An old silk spinner's trick that we've been using for years around here is to take about a teaspoon of sugar in your dry hand and ad about a teaspoon of olive oil. Rub your hands together like you're washing them. The sugar exfoliates and the olive oil really softens. Bob says it works much better than the Comet and gasoline that his father used for taking varnish off his hands.
*Wendy Dreyer, March 30, 2001. My dermatologist taught me that what causes dry skin is lack of water. If you soak your dry skin for a minute in warm water it rehydrates. Then seal in the water with a little bit of petroleum jelly or oil. It works wonders and is *so* inexpensive! I do this before felting and gardening, and of course wear leather gloves for gardening. The reason handlotions feel so good is because they are a mixture of water, oil, sometimes glycerin, but then also alcohol. My hands almost always end up feeling dry again in a few minutes, because the water and alcohol evaporate. The water doesn't get sealed in. If I use a lotion, I look for one with a high amount of oil and glycerin, but I always wet my hands first! Dry elbows, feet and knees get a little bit of petroleum jelly right out of the shower, with no towel drying.

Pat Spark ©1997, last updated March 30, 2001