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Tutorial: Wire Jig Armatures by SnowFox102 Tutorial: Wire Jig Armatures by SnowFox102
I've had a couple people ask me about how I make armatures for my needle felted figures, so I put together a simple tutorial. It's not pretty, but I hope it gets the point across. :) This method basically uses a cork board as a wire jig. I've not heard of anyone else using this method, so I figured I'd share, since I find it very helpful. All my armatures are made with this method. The smaller armature in the last picture went on to become Fluttershy, and the other one was supposed to be Phere but I broke it later. XD
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:iconthe-odd-crow:
The-odd-crow Featured By Owner May 12, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a really clever way to get it right! 0__0
Thank you for sharing ^^
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:iconanimeotaku0321:
animeotaku0321 Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2015  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Great tutorial!  I have a stupid question, how do you needle felt the wool around the metal?  Is it as simple as wrapping it around the wire and then felting it?  I just didn't want to break my needle by hitting the wire...lol.  ^___^;;
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
The trick is to keep your needle parallel with the wire. I did a video about it a while ago, here. Hope that helps!
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:iconanimeotaku0321:
animeotaku0321 Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2015  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Great!  :hug:  Thank you so much!  I want to try making something with an armature next~!

I'm still learning how to needle felt.  ^^;  I am having trouble making small shapes (limbs, ears, etc) and adding details (mouth, nose, eyes, etc).  Do you have any advice for those?  I've watched some tutorials on YouTube, but sometimes it's difficult to see exactly how they're holding the wool to create the shapes.  I did see that some people use thread to add small details to a mouth, but I think it only works if you have a small piece for the snout of the animal...maybe?

Anything you can tell me, I would greatly appreciate it!!  Llama Emoji-03 (Sparkles) [V1] 
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:icontreiale:
Treiale Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the tutorial! I have needle felted quite a few things but I have never attempted to wire anything. I think I will give it a go very soon!
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:iconmayebony:
MayEbony Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for this fantastic tutorial *and* all of the incredibly helpful advice you've given to everyone in the comments below (yes, I read them all!).  I have roving, and I have a leather finger and thumb protection 'glove'.  Just waiting very impatiently for the needles to arrive :iconshakestickplz: LOL
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:iconapache-cat:
apache-cat Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter
Most wire I've tried will snap after being bent in the same place a few times. Will using armature wire and twisting it like this stop that from happening? Or will twisting regular wire work?
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
All wire will break if you bend it enough. Twisting the wire doesn't make it less likely to break so much as it becomes harder to bend, which makes it hold a pose better. I always recommend hardware wire, such as picture hanging wire, over everything else because it's very strong. Floral wire is good too. You can easily compare the quality of different kinds of wire by rapidly bending a section back and forth until it either breaks or becomes too hot to touch. Thinner wire will break more easily of course, but for a very thin wire the picture hanging wire in this post is quite strong.
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:iconwildfire1990:
wildfire1990 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I have another question..How do you felt around the wire? is the felt somehow attached then added on to?
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
It's kind of hard for me to explain, but fairly easy to do. When I can, I'll make a video or something showing how to do it, but until then I'll describe it. What I do is gently pull a bit of wool so that it's a long strip (Look up "pre-drafting" in spinning terms, there are lots of videos about it. It's the same technique.) Then I carefully wrap the wool strip around the wire. Keep it close to the wire, but don't pull so hard that the strip breaks. I just wrap a couple of inches at a time. Hold the felting needle parallel to the wire, and poke the wool a few times, going all around the wire. You can also roll it between your fingers after it starts to felt to firm it up and shrink it down against the wire. Once you have that first little bit, it becomes much easier to add more on top. It does take a little practice to know how much wool to use and such, but it's not as hard as it sounds. :) I've also heard that some people apply that first layer of wool by coating the wire in glue and just gluing some wool on.
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:iconwildfire1990:
wildfire1990 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you so very much for all of your wisdom regarding this amazing art! I went to my local craft store and picked up all the stuff I needed to get started. The result was a tiny little panda.:) It's odd looking, I need a lot of practice and probably won't get as good as you, haha. If it's not too much to ask though, would you mind looking at my panda and see if you have any recommendations on how to improve my technique? [link]
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Reminds me of my first feltie! :D [link] I think it's great, and you can only improve from here. Practice, and you can make anything! The only recommendation I have is to try different fibers, and get a star needle if you can. Different fibers behave in different ways, and the ones sold at craft stores are often of poor quality and are harder to felt. Personally I prefer a fine Merino, other people like the coarser Corriedale. Different needles give different results too. I always reccomend a 38 gauge star because it felts faster than a triangle (which is what craft stores usually have) and is useful across a broad variety of fiber types and felt densities. I just recently got some spiral needles, which felt even faster than stars of the same gauge, but they start having trouble getting through more quickly than the stars, so I only use them at the beginning of shaping and switch to a star to tighten everything up. The spirals are also less efficient on tiny details or working near an armature because the barbs are more spaced out than the stars.
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:iconwildfire1990:
wildfire1990 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's great info, thank you so much! I'm going to browse around online for some different fibers, and a star needle. I really appreciate your time, and advice, thank you! :D
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
You're welcome! :)
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:iconwildfire1990:
wildfire1990 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OHH! I've been looking on youtube all day for this exact info! Thank you so much! I'm going to go order my starter kit for needle felting! :D
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
Happy to help! :D
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:iconkoosahmii:
Koosahmii Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013
Thank you very much for your tutorial. I can't wait to try it out.
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:iconhinata-teh-lefty:
Hinata-teh-Lefty Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2013  Student Photographer
I have been interested in making little clay figures, and I've always been hesitant because all I see are people either hand-shaping their armatures or not showing the process at all on tutorials. A CORK BOARD! Of course!! I can't tell you how much better I fell about this, thank you!

I do have a couple of questions though. The legs that are one piece; how exactly does that work? Do you put one wire down to shape the first set and then a second wire to make the second set? And then just attach them to the spine with more wire? Also, would crafting/jewelry wire work?
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013  Professional Artisan Crafter
I'm glad to be able to help! :D

Here's a pic showing how the legs work. You don't have to do it this way of course, it's just how I choose to do it. I shape the legs first, and the wires are just "stacked" on the board at first. I usually use the spine wire to wrap around and secure everything together, but you can use a separate wire, I've done that too. Jewelry wire would work as long as it's rigid and strong enough to hold the felt in a pose, but wire sold for jewelry making is often overpriced. I usually use galvanized steel wire from the hardware store. Sometimes I use floral wire. Any half-hard wire will work though.
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:iconhinata-teh-lefty:
Hinata-teh-Lefty Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2013  Student Photographer
Oh, I think I see what you're saying. And thank you so much for the advice! I'll go look for some.
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:icondannyp514:
DannyP514 Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2012  Student General Artist
This is so smart! I wish I had thought of this. XD
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:iconnekokat36:
Nekokat36 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Favouriting. :D
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:iconsilvergryphon8:
SilverGryphon8 Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2012
Always great to see how people do their armatures!
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:iconwinglei:
winglei Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
that's awesome and very helpful! thanks
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Glad I could help! :)
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:iconfoxy-yazoo:
foxy-yazoo Featured By Owner May 15, 2012
That is a cool method! I like the idea of having the pins along the drawing. X3 I usually just get a bunch of pictures off Google image search, figure out the proportions and base my armature on that. Although I usually make the legs and tail extra long in the beginning, and then cut them down to size later. Neat though!
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner May 16, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
I usually do try to add some slack at the ends now, I actually took these pictures a couple of projects ago. :P I like using pins because I'm really clumsy and have a hard time bending wires into the shapes I want. They tend to twist around and generally be really frustrating. Jewelry artists use wire jigs to get perfectly shaped wire, and I figured it would work for me to get the general shape I want. Real wire jigs are expensive, but the cork board works pretty well for much less, so that was part of why I wanted to make a tutorial too. :D I wish I could find straight peg-like pins though, these thumbtacks have tapered shapes that make it a little tricky. Still beats paying $40 or more for a small jig, though.
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:iconsotkettu:
Sotkettu Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Good tutorial! Some people use pipe cleaners for making the armature because the wool attachs to it much better than to the normal wire. I know that most of the pipe cleaners are not good for the armature but I have found some really good pipe cleaners from here Finland. 8-)
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
I used pipe cleaners at first too, but they break or rust so easily that I decided the bit of extra effort it takes to use steel wire is worth the extra strength. The steel wire sometimes poses better too, since the wire is stronger. It all depends on your style and preferences really. :) This method works with pipe cleaners or any other kind of wire, I noted what I use just for the curious. :)
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:icontoshiko-paws:
Toshiko-paws Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
fff this is so cool, i love learning the secrets behind how some things like this work :p
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Glad you enjoyed it! I hope it proves useful to someone, but it's good if someone just finds it interesting too. I know what you mean, I've read lots of tutorials for things I'll never get to do, just because it was cool learning how it worked. :D
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:icontoshiko-paws:
Toshiko-paws Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
i know huh 8D i would loveto do needle felting but i have no idea where to start!
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
All you need to try it is a couple of needles and some wool! It's kind of like working with clay, you just play with it and learn as you go. :) Most craft stores have needles and wool, though if you really get into it it's cheaper to buy online, and craft stores don't have high quality fibers.
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:icontoshiko-paws:
Toshiko-paws Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
what do they look like, how do you clump it together D8 TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
LOL! Well, clumping the wool together...it kind of just does that. You squish and pull wads of it into a very rough shape, and stab it with the felting needle. It really is that simple and I can't really put any more into words. XD If you look on YouTube though, you can see videos of people felting at all stages of a project. As for what you're looking for, the needles are distinct, they don't look like anything else. They're large, with barbs at the pointed end and an L shape at the top. [link] This site is a good one for getting started by the way. They even have starter kits with instructions and all the materials.
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:icontoshiko-paws:
Toshiko-paws Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
aweomse im totally intersted, is it hard to do?
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:iconsnowfox102:
SnowFox102 Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
It's not so much hard as it is tedious. It takes a lot of time to make something complex. I have more time than energy, so it's good for me, but not everyone will have the time or patience for it.
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