Armature experiment 2; Adhesion and Rotation of the wool on wire

Armature experiment 2; Adhesion and Rotation of the wool on wire

While making samples for the study group investigation of wire for armatures I have noticed that there have been differences in getting the wool to adhere to the wire and sometimes this seems to be leading to rotational movement of the wool on the armature.

While the rotational movement of upper quads on many of the leg samples would be reduced if a pelvis/hips had been added. I was still interested in investigating further.  Since there may be a shape I would like to make that does not terminate with a hand or foot.  Maybe a tentacle or spout?

The underlying problem may be adhesion to the wire. When twisted there is a bit of improvement in wool adhesion over the single untwisted wire.  This could be improved by adding a pipe cleaner (now called “Chenille Stems” since there are fewer pipe smokers who need to clean their pipes) which allows the wool something to grip as it is wrapped.

Sample 1; Untwisted 6ga aluminum wire with pipe cleaner on the loop half of the sample and Floral tape on the second half.

1 Pipe Cleaner wrapped 6ga aluminum.

One of our study group had been instructed to add tape to specific areas of her armature. I had at first thought this may be for added strength or stiffness to that section. Then, wondered if it was for improved adhesion to use the wool to strengthen the section with tape. I did a sample of a single 6ga/4mm wire with pipe cleaner on half the length and floral tape on the other half to compare adhesion. I had the upper quads on the leg sample to use as a bare wire sample.

Floral tape is a strange thing to work with. It is dry and a bit wrinkly until you give it a gentle tug, then it turns sticky especially when wrapped over itself. I did discover the stickiness does not last forever or even very long. So, only wrap the section you will be working on.

2-4  Pipe cleaner and Floral tape over a single wire

In sample 1; 6ga aluminum ½ Pipe Cleaner (loop end) and ½ floral tape.

Rotation is present, greater in the pipe cleaner section than in the floral tape.

Flexion test;     – both sections will make a sharp bend but are vary stiff due to the gauge.

I am also curious to see if with a weaker gauge wire if a duct tape or gorilla tape may give restrictions to bending in the section where applied. I may try a sample with the floral tape over the top since I suspect the adhesion will not be enhanced with duct or similar tapes.

5 Duct Tape and Gorilla tape. (Gorilla tape is an extra sticky extra strong version of Duct tape.)

I sampled with 18ga aluminum so it would show flexibility more than the 6ga I had been using. Note that the aluminum I have presently at this gauge is intended as picture wire and it is not coated. If you are selecting aluminum, try to perches the coated wire since it will not leave dirty marks on your fingers.

6-7 Residue from uncoated aluminum and what was on the empty plate (in case you were curious).

The two wire samples were about 10 inches long, which I divided into approximately 3rds. 2/3rds I twisted together and one-third was left single.  I put a small open loop on the single end and the fold on the other end created a longer loop. I wrapped as tightly as I could the middle section with gorilla tape. This covered about half of both single and double twisted 18ga wire.

8-9 bare wire and gorilla tape and sample covered in wool for flexibility test

In sample 2; 18ga aluminum ½ single/ ½ Doubled with center 1/3rd wrapped in Gorilla tape.

Rotation is present and seems equal in all sections.

Flexion test;       –  single could make a sharp bend

                            –  Taped section could make a curved bend

                            –  Doubled could make a sharp bend


For sample 3, I used 18ga aluminum as before,  ½ single/ ½ Doubled with center 1/3rd wrapped in Gorilla tape. This time I added floral tape over all sections in hopes to increase adhesion

10-11 Bare-wire, wire with tape added (about 6 wraps)

12 Test bending with tape to see how the tape was resisting making a sharp bend.

13 covering wire and tape with Floral tape with the hopes of increasing adhesion and decreasing the rotational movement of the wool around the wire.


In sample 3; 18ga aluminum ½ single/ ½ Doubled with center 1/3rd wrapped in Gorilla tape. Floral tape over all sections in hopes to increase adhesion.

Rotation is minimal to not noticed across all sections.

Flexion test;        – single could make a sharp bend

                             – Taped section could make a curved bend

                             – Doubled could make a sharp bend


14 Sample 3 with wool, checking flexibility in all test sections.

The use of tape may be helpful in spots where you want to allow a curve but not a sharp bend. The amount of tape (number of wraps) will change the amount of flexion in the wire. If you want to use tape to restrict a sharp bend, more sampling may be required. While the gorilla tape adhered to the wire and itself, the wool did not adhere well to it without the addition of the floral tape. The use of the two tapes together may have merit in a particular application.


The Rotational movement component may not be a problem when working on a large or thick figure or object but may be more problematic on fine legs or other skinny appendages. In this case, the assist of floral wire may be very helpful.  Another future investigation for thin appendages would be to investigate the use of waxes to assist adhesion.  Wax has also been used to create surface smoothing as seen in some felters’ bird legs. Although that may partly get beyond the parameters of wire, it may be well worth further investigation. unfortunately, I will leave that for another day.

PS; while Glenn was spellchecking (if there are more spelling errors blame me I think I have broken his spelling), he suggested I try the sticky cloth medical tape it may give an improved adhesion over the bare wire. I suspect it would likely have a bit more flexibility than gorilla tape and be a bit more expensive than floral wire. (Drat now I have to go look and see if we have any medical tape!!)


14 thoughts on “Armature experiment 2; Adhesion and Rotation of the wool on wire

  1. The sticky cloth medical tape would be worth trying!

    You should write a book Jan – all your experimentation and results are so useful. You also have a good way of explaining things so that everyone can understand.

    1. thankyou!
      i would love to rite a book but i think is should do one in my native langwige (dislexic) with the agacent translation to english. i think that mite be fun! but i mite also distroy the spelling of all felters who tryed to read it in the original langwige.

      it has been very inlightening so far. i was out for the first time in quite a while today. i made a quick run down to the guild library then off to Dollerama to pick up esential suplys (wire, bull dog clips, painters tape, candy for the library, and yes medical tape! its wider than the old medical tape i remember. thay also had cast rap??? it said it wont stick to you just to itself….. that may not be what i was hopeing for. so i skipped it. i did get a lot of mini chocklet bars, for Glenn …. realy there for Glenn!)

      i hope your not getting too bored with werd things to do with wire and wool (with occational tape) i have a few more experiments i think i would like to try

  2. I agree with Lyn here Jan. Your approach to your research is wonderfully scientific. Your eye for detail is incredible. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you Helene!

      My Dad was a PHD geologist so i knew about plate titonics very young. My brother is also a PHD geologist. Unfortunatly i wanted to be a paleyentologist, but i cant spell palyentologist or most of the dinosors names. i had the strange idea you had to at least be able to spell your profession. (i mostly can spell massage!!) i took geology courses for fun at univerity (confused the teachers a lot since i was an art student. it also baffed my 4th year History proff to get charts, diagrams and photos in an history essay, i understand belatedly that is not what was expected.) but i loved resurch, art history, costume, … i wanted to understand everything. (well that didnt happen) but i did wind up with an art history degree with some prity odd other classes. (the origins of food 3rd year anthropology was fun!)
      besides the odd fine art/comertal art background i have all the RMT training so palpation is important to how i notice things. how it feels, how dose it move if compressed, what is the serfice texture is id differnt from the subserface texture? dose it move when you poke it. (that is a theraputic poke of course) since i cant work i take my palpation skills out on the unseuspecting felt. i think it give an advantage when laying wool out for wet felting too. its easy to feel thin spots even if your eyes dont see them.

      i am glad you are enjoying my investigations i suspect you may get to here a bit more!! i hope it will inspier others to do strange and wonderfull things with wool, wire, tape, yarn, gule, wax…. i am looking forword to seeing what is created.

    1. im not sure You or Glenn is up to spell cheking that much of my writing i think both of you may implode at any time!! (it could be any word now) i would suggest an edditor but dont want to distroy someones carrear by them tying to slog through fonetic spelling with eratics occationaly, minimal puncutation and mostly random capitlization and a huge vocabulary. it would be an edditors Nightmare!!!!

      but it would be fun to rite! well fun for me.

  3. I agree, I do think you should write a book.

    As for getting the wool to wrap the wire without rotation, have you thought of trying double sided cellotape (sticky tape – not sure what you call it over there)? That was the first thing I thought of as your first round of fibres would stick to it ok; but then as you mentioned florists tape (we call that gutta over here – UK) I wondered about the tape that decorators use – I think you call it blue painters tape, we call it masking tape. That isn’t sticky on the outside, but it has a very mat roughish finish which may well stop rotation of fibres, and it sticks to most shiny things like glass and metal so should be ok to stick to wire.

    I wish I had all the knowledge you’re now passing on regarding armatures when I was making my Water Sprite. He’s getting on for a foot tall and I had to give him a very long tail so that he could use it to lean on when standing up, as the wire I used wasn’t really man enough for the job.


    1. Thanks Ann great idea on the dubble sided tape (once covid lock down is off i can sneek into dollarama and buy some!) i did pick up “sports tape” that looks like medical tape not the physio tape. i will add that to my sampling shortly.
      Re your Water Sprite, i had a wrist wire brake on one of my mid size creatures. i took a sharp utility knife, embrodery sisors and told the paternt this would not hert…much and started the orthopidic prosecure. i trimed down to the broken wire, and back in both directions into the palm of the hand and up the forarm. i took a stronger gage of wire and poked it as far into the hand and then foram as i could. i then skuffed up the cut area as much as i could. with the new wire layed in the sides scuffed up i added a bit of wool into and across the insition.the sides of the insition with a bit of inthusiastic poking heald well and with a tiny bit more colour blending on the serface there was not scaring after sergery!!

      but long tails also work when helping to suport a figrue!

      for your next figure try to increse ether the size of your wire or twist it with an extra suport wire in the legs. i have been using ether 10 or 12 gauge aluminum, usualy dubbled for my mers. i wanted them to stay in a position when posed.

      keep felting! i hope you will make your Water Sprite a friend and maybe some pets?

  4. Lovely photography and description of your experiments with the armature pieces.
    May I suggest something? I have been doing needle felted fiber sculptures for some time and I had the same rotational problems. I never use tape. Tape would just be something else to strike with your needle.

    I found a tiny line of Fabri-Tac by Beacon will secure a long thin pinch of fiber to the wire. Fabri-Tac is permanent, clear and water-proof. (And stinky! Use good ventilation! 🙂 ) The pinch of fiber should be quickly wrapped around the wire and pressed into the glue. Take care not to twirl the fiber as the wire is wrapped. Twlrling the fiber into a “thread” while wrapping will create ridges. Turning the wire rather than the fiber helps keep the fiber flat. Once this foundational fiber is adhered to the wire, it makes a surface on which additional fiber may be carefully needled.

    Another thing: we know wool isn’t cheap. Although I do use 100% wool on thin areas like arms or legs, I don’t begin with wool on the heavier body parts. Its amazing but, a soft polyester fiberfill can begin the process of building a form. Pulled into thin strands of fiber, it needles like wool and regular wool fiber can be securely needled over the layer of polyester. One caution: don’t over needle the base layer of polyester, or the wool layer may not needle securely.

    Lastly, although I do twist two pieces of wire together for larger, heavier forms, I find I dislike twisted wire because it catches my needle more. I think on small pieces you’ll love the glue solution!

    Patty Hofer, Quagga Studio

    1. Thanks Patty! i need just one more hand to take pictures while im working!!! i will keep working on that.

      the gorilla tape was not as much of a danger to the needles as very open or loosly braided wire was. the much thiner floral tape gave enuff grip to adhear the wool and with a bit of finger rotation in the direction of wrapping i didnt need to add any needle work at that point. after a cuple of layers i then did a bit of tacking down. this still seems to give a starting point that is solid with little to no rotation.

      i think the gorilla or duck tapes may be more usefull when you want to have a spot that bends in an arc or curve but not a sharp bend. Unless you were makeing a figure still recovering from knee surgery with ROM restrictions i dont think this will have wide spread use. but its always handy to have an idea to inspier you if you want a curve but not a sharp bend!

      the glues are someting i do want to invistigte too. i have a small bottle of fabric glue as well as rubber ciment which may give the tackyness i am hopeing for (now where did i put it again?). i will try to track down your suggestion too. (thankyou!) i think glues will be a section of investigation on its own like wax.

      i have seen felters use or mention using other forms of filler than wool. Yarn, cloth strips, fiber fill, styrfome, quit batting, even carving a shape in fome then felting over it. while wool is expencive i have been given free full raw fleeces while i was demoing spinning or felting or even weaving! a few of these fleeces were gastly; full of VM, looked like the sheep had been mud resseling and worth every peny i payed for them (Free). A particularly difficult one, after washing went over to Ann to be pitched through her picker and carder. i got 4 bats of extreemly spungy redoearcott. not too bad for under structures. i also save all my combing wast and some of my frends who spin send me there combing wast too. that is extreemly nice to work with. well nicer than the Redoarcott. i have bought some wool acturlay designated as core wool and will investigate the difernces between them. (some of World of Wool, Sarafena’s and some from Wobi Sobi) anther investigation for a bit later too.

      You are absolutely right the way you lay in your fiber as you are wrapping the armature is important. keeping it thin and flat layers, not twisting the roving or top gives the best results for an even base. one of my thumbs is incharge of keeping the fiber tightly to the wire and laying flat while the other hand wraps. sometimes turning the armature rather than the wool works well (but sometime that just not an option with a large or complex shape.)

      Felting is always fun, lots of new challanges, Shapes to try, texture to figure out! watching how the wool behaves and how you can perswade it to do what you would like or sometimes seeing what it wants to become is interesting.

      You have given me more to investigate!!!

  5. Another good article Jan! I agree with Patty that glue might be a good option. Then you could try out all the different kinds of glue (ha ha!) so it would give another avenue of research. I would be glad to help with editing the book.

    1. Thanks Ruth! you may just want to see me covered in glue, stuck to my chair…..

      i agree this is also an avenue of investigation. the floral tape acted like a glue at least in the short turm and it definatly made an improvement on adhetion and decreased rotation.

      there is also the use of glues to make the serface stiff or hard. glue mixed with water to decrease the efect of the glue acting like sizing or starch. (oh and size and starch as investigations too), if i get into looking at serfeice alteration than i should also look at Mogpog, roplex(a sepender of pigment in acrilics) and acrilic paint…….hummm yes i may have at least a books worth of investigation or a masters /PHD theaseis in felt!! i wonder who would offer a PHD in felt?

      Ruth you are very kind and Very Brave to offer to edit!! You know not the horrors of sivear dislexia espeshaly when over tiered or sore (it can get much worse!) lets see if i get book worthy info in my meandering investigations. in the meen time i hope its enjoyable to watch the investigation proceed.

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: