Working Armature

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fuzzy sticks and jewelry wire cutters

I’m trying my first attempt at building the base to my first dog sculpture with armature in it. I got 18 gauge wire from Living Felt, when I made my order, knowing that I would need this for what I wanted to do. I did have to make a run to Wal-mart to pick up, what I call pipe cleaners, and everyone else is now referring to them as fuzzy sticks. So now that the label says “fuzzy Sticks,” that’s how I will refer to them. I just thought I should clarify in case you didn’t know if their name change or if you didn’t know what they were called before of their name change.

A youtube video (she talks about the build of an armature at about 6:20) had told me to twist my wire, so that’s what I did. It turns out, it really hurt my fingers and I had a really hard time twisting. When we made our next late night trip to Wal-mart, I went back into the jewelry section and picked up the last of the fuzzy sticks (you can never have too many right?) and a wire cutter. This has helped me twist my wire so much better. It gives me a better grip and I can twist evenly all the way down. It also allows me to cut wire, which is more important than I thought.

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Once I got the armature to where I wanted it, and that includes making sure it stood on all four legs properly, I covered the armature with fuzzy sticks (pipe cleaners).  And once that was all covered, I rechecked to make sure it was still on all four legs, and then started to twist the wool around the wire.  I should remind you, work your needles at 45 degree angles, as to not jab into the wire.  I have yet to break a needle using this method.

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With this being my first one, I added slowly.  I will be adding coat all around, except for the poodles clean feet, but I still want to make sure I capture the true shape of the legs.  I’m also curious as to how I’m going to go about the face, feet, and tail.  The face and feet have no fur, as poodles have clean faces and feet, but the tail has just a tiny bit of hair, if I do the German Trim.  I think I would like to try and trim that I don’t typically get to practice on.  On the other hand, I was thinking I might need to stick with a trim that I know, as I work through the unfamiliar media.  I can’t image trimming wool would be too different from trimming a poodle, but it would be easier to work with a trim I know rather then learn how to work these felted dogs, and a new hair cut.  But we’ll see how brave I get, once I get to adding the coat in.

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I’m really not sure what type of wool I should use to get to my goal.  I  asked Living Felt what they recommended the kind of wool I should use for the coat, when I get there. They happily responded back to help, and I am so grateful for their kind recommendations.  I will share what Marie had sent back to me.

Wow, this is awesome. For the body,. of course I think you are safe with core wool and batting, it will compact nicely and smoothly. For the long fibers, experiment with: NZ Corriedale, Merino Top (though this is very fine and sometimes wants to lay on itself), and other fibers with a staple length of 3″ or longer. We also have organic POLWARTH, and other fibers like SHETLAND, JACOB and Lincoln (not all come in white tho). It is best to get small amounts to start and experiment. Plus save back a small sample from each purchase noting where you bought it, what it was called, what it cost and the name of the color. I hope that helps!

So I will be making an order, as soon as I get a little closer.  I really would like to do my research before I invest a good amount of money, and I’m definitely going to make a small order of probably a few ounces of each and play with them on a test subject.  That way I get it right on my sculpture.  I’ve also been looking into some books.  But most of them I can not get at my local bookstores, so it looks like I might be making an order on amazon.  The more research I have behind me, the better.

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A photo from my first place win, you can get an idea of what a German trim looks like.  You can slightly see his shaved spot from surgery.