Finding a Solution to Weak Wire

Finding a Solution to Weak Wire

This may be an unusually short (for me) note.

“Mistakes” can lead to opportunities to try new to you solutions. I am sure all of you have come up with this solution but in case you haven’t made this mistake I thought I should share and show you my solution.

The wire I chose for the toes was a coated steel but only 25ga. (Perfect for chickadees but not for this size of Dragon, but you work with what you have at hand.) Now I am back home and have a bigger selection of wire options.  I need to augment the 25ga since it is not providing the grip I need to hold on to the cane or cling to the basket of the walker. Otherwise, I very much like the little guy.

1 As you last saw him

Do I have to make another armature? Or, can I augment the strength of the wire so it will have a better griping ability? I already have a thin layer of wool to make the skinny long fingers. I guess I could make less skinny toes and fingers if they have better gripping.

2 Inserting a wire across the hips to strengthen legs, (that was not the wire I thought I grabbed).

I pulled out a long black wire, it was in with the green floral wire. I poked it through the hips then found the middle and wound it down the legs on either side. It was a bit short and not as strong as I hoped. So I added a second wire of 20 ga. to the leg and down into the middle tow.

The second wire was inserted and anchored under the top of the finer black wire. I wound tightly over the already wrapped wool. A small change in gauge or type of wire can make a big difference in the stiffness of the wire. It’s best to have wire that is just a bit stronger than the tension created by the wound and felted wool. If the wool is stronger than the wire your figure will not hold a pose. If you are only lightly felting something you can reduce the strength of the wire and it will still hold the fibre/felt. Do you remember the ghosts I made for ghost girl a couple of Halloweens ago? They were lightly felted but I needed the wire to support their weight so that determined the gauge I chose. In the case of the dragon, I likely should have doubled the 20 ga for the legs toes and fingers.

3 Needs a bit more stiffness, adding the 18”, 20ga green floral wire.

4 Much better.

I wound down to the toe and used the plyers to make sure it was tightly secured. Then I wound back up the toe a bit with the extra wire.

5 Both legs done, the little guy feels much stronger already!!

Legs done, I next moved on to the arms and middle fingers. I again poked the wire through, this time at the shoulder joint. I wound the wire down the arm to the middle finger then back up and into the bottom part of the wing.  I left the medial and lateral digits un-augmented.

Next, hide the wire!! I continued with the World of wool Core wool that I had hand carded the last time I was in Oakville. There is a tiny bit of kemp in it but it is working well for both wrapping and sculpting.

6-7 Hiding the wire, the toes don’t look too much bigger.

As I added fibre to cover the extra wire, I made glutes, quads, and gastrocs! I have also added ribs to the wings only 2 this time. I think that is looking better!

8 Time for the beginning of the colour layer!

I have started the first layer of colour but have a trip back to Oakville so I think this is as far as I can go before I have to start packing. (Well Glenn will do a bit of emergency laundry first then I can pack). I have wool and tools pulled and ready to go. I should grab some wire (since I forgot to bring any last time).

I wonder what I have forgotten?

Ok, back to the topic at hand or more accurately on the desk. The augmentation of wire strength by adding wire over the underlayer worked. (it worked much better than the incision, extraction of the broken wire and insertion of a stronger gauge on a skunk project. Poor skunk’s wrist never healed correctly but it’s better than the break was.)

If you don’t mind the toes being a bit larger in diameter than originally planned this may work for you if you find a similar problem. (That problem being, not bringing a selection of wire with you when you spontaneously decide to create a new project!)

Have fun and keep felting!

PS I got out to the Market Ann is selling at and did some promotional photos for her and discovered that pumpkins are shiny when they are wet!! Who knew that? Here are a few shots of a rainy day at the market to enjoy

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9-16 The Farmers Market at the Barrhaven Log Farm

12 thoughts on “Finding a Solution to Weak Wire

  1. Such a lovely project and I don’t think the thickened toes matter at all. Useful to know you can strengthen as you go if necessary. You mentioned ‘pictures in the rain’ – didn’t see any on the post that dropped into my emails, but maybe they are on the website – I’ll take a look later
    Thanks as always for sharing

    1. Thanks Nancy! yes the option to see if i could fix the project i was working on rather than start again was apeeling. i am glad it worked. i would suggest single needle use as you add the wool and to be vary attentive that what the needle is feeling (use the needle as a tool of palpation). i did not have any needle brakeage but there is more than the normal amount of wire in those appendeges so slower more carefull felting is helpfull.

    1. Oh i am glad the photos loaded! i had never seen shiny punkins before! maybe i should go out in the rain more often, no too much chance of getting wet. ( you never know when you add a bit more water you may get to 100% Water and Melt!!) but those glowing punkins, i wonder what else i have missed in my quest to stay as dry as posible.
      have fun and keep felting!

    1. thanks Ruth! i am sure there will be a lot of people heading to see Ann this long weekend to pick up cookie and tarts!!!
      its been a bit busy here in Oakville, but he looks like he almost has his pants on now!! i will try to get the rest of his under colour layer on in the next few days.

  2. Yep, I’ve had to strengthen wire a few times myself and did the same as you! It’s a super nifty trick and I think you did an excellent job. I’m very looking forward to seeing that finished dragon!

    And… “pumpkins are shiny when wet” should be on a t-shirt, just saying 😀

  3. I know!! who knew that about pumkins!! we should spead the news by T-Shert!!!

    i was sure i was not the first to do after construction augmenttion of armatures!! it was a good solution to the problem. i wonder if there are other options? i hope if others have found the same problem with a difernt solution thay will share!

  4. It can’t have been easy to wind the wire as neatly as that! Nice fix. He’s going to look handsome.

    Doesn’t the market look different in the rain – but Ann’s baking is as scrummy looking as ever.

  5. Loved this article;Thanks.Am interested in using wire to base a ballet dancer in motion!!!!What wire do I need to use? Never tried this before.

  6. He is looking terrific Jan and it’s good to know the additional wire works.
    These pumpkins look beautiful, the ones on our market last week were a very sorry looking bunch of mis-shapes! Did I see a white pumpkin in one of those photos? Not seen that before.

  7. Super project Jan. I have never tried properly wiring my pieces yet (I have only done two birdies) but am tempted to give it a go given your clear instructions. Looking forward to seeing further progress on your beautiful piece.
    Feeling slightly envious over the market. Lovely pumpkins. wishing I was there in the thick of it.

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