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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!!)


Mer Hands and Armature Study Group

Mer Hands and Armature Study Group

This past week in Ottawa was cold, with a few days that were not overcast and gloomy. We even had a little snowstorm and lost power for a few hours.  Since I couldn’t work on the computer and the lighting was off for colour work I tried to wash the dishes, no hot water…. Ok, how about cleaning up the dust bunny I spotted in the dining room the vacuum is right there… oh….. I will get the broom… Well, it was not all bad, I didn’t have to vacuum and Glenn brought home Fish and Chips as a treat for dinner!

 1 Ice on the window to inspire you!

So when the sun came back I made the most of the good light and blended some yellow-ish skin tones for Mr. Mer. I was focusing on his hands and building up his forearms (lots of arm curls and extensions to build up the biceps/Triceps now wrist curls to build up the extensors/flexors in the forearm) I suspect he would just like me to add a bit more fibre to him so he can skip the exercising!

 2 Mr. Mer, Miss Mer and Mrs. Mer.

It has been a while since you saw the understructure for Mr. Mer but the armature for the hands is floral wire doubled over and twisted. The rest of the body is 12 gauge aluminum. The armature was then wrapped in part of an alpaca bat I had used with all the Mer’s.


The top layer is blends of Corriedale in cream, yellows, greens, blush and browns aiming to be similar to the underside of a northern pike with a suggestion of skin tone. I want to layer over a few more tones but I think he is heading in the correct direction.

 9 its hard to see with the wet window but there are gusts of snow on the other side of the glass

Today has been bleak and snowy, but not as cold! So I finished off my notes for the study group on armature wire. I have the outline written. It took a while to try to source locally some of the wire gauges we will be investigating. I also made a list of some of the online options. I wound up with five pages for the outline and shopping notes! I got them off to the registrar so she can send them out as registrations come in. The OVWSG study group web page is now live! The first few fellow studiers have signed up! I hope the rest of my wire orders come in soon!! We are starting 23 February 2021 running weekly on Wednesday (Zoom meeting 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm Local Ottawa time) until 17 March 2021. Because we are Zooming we can be accessible to more people. Please take a peek if you would like!

 10 Mr. Mer is demonstrating how well his new fingers work by holding the first wire order that has arrived. (Approximately 10 gauge Aluminum.)

 11 This is an assortment of wire collected locally in Ottawa at; Dallerama, Home Depot, Walmart. I also found some 12 gauge aluminum wire at McBead Creations but it’s not in the picture! (the 11 gauge steel is what I used in the Quadra-dents and is too stiff for most armatures. But does make excellent weapons!)

I hope this will inspire others to try study groups as a way of learning remotely while we are still stuck at home. At least the commute to work is quick for some of us? And hopefully, the rest of us are having fun felting!!

12 Mr. Mer shows off his fingers

2020, Just a bit Mer to go.

2020, Just a bit Mer to go.

Glenn and I have been travelling as far as Oakville once a month, to take over running errands for his parents and give his eldest brother, who is closest, a break (there are 5 brothers). We are second closest at 5 and a half hours away. The rest live in the US so are on the wrong side of the border to come and visit.

This last trip we checked the hotel was still open, Yes.  Packed up the car; extra grocery cooler bags, suitcases, and fibre related to the Mr. Mer project. One quick look at the garden and off to Oakville!

1-2 Silly lungwort, silly strawberries, it’s not spring, it’s December!!!

After MUCH debating about what kind of fish Mr. Mer actually is. I suddenly realized he was a pike! A Northern Pike! So off to the internet to get reference images! I carefully looked at fin placement, size shape and colouring.

 3 the reference photos

 4 wires were placed for the lower fins.

I pulled out the measured wires (floral wire,22 gauge I think) and started to lay out one side of the fin, mixing tones as I went.

 5 side one of the fin. (wire still to be added)

Added Fibre to the wire and then stuck the ends of the wire back into Mr. Mer just above the tail fin.

6 lower underside fin

7 Getting ready to start upper back fin.  

 8 using 3 of the 42 gauge triangular needles. These are quite nice. I would like to get some in the 333 configuration these are the 222’s.

9 I also used the 38 which suddenly felt aggressive compared to the 42’s!

 10 I started laying in the dorsal colouring. I was hand blending and tearing the fibres into short unorganized sections which I laid on in thin washes.

11-12   I tried attaching only one side of the fin wire for the hip fins.

I had worried all this addition of fins may have been a bit overwhelming for Mr. Mer, but he found a spot to blend into on the couch and started reading a postcard (he seemed interested in the picture from Dubai)

13-14 Mr. Mer refused to wear a mask but he did have a lot of poking with a needle and may have felt that boosted his immunity.  (I did not have a mask that would fit him). I think I will wait for the kind of needle that has the vaccine, fewer barbs in those!)

Parts of Christmas are already in Oakville, they even had more snow than we did! I spotted the mouse angel and the Christmas card from was that just last year?

 15-18 A bit of x-mas has already arrived.

 19 back to work defining fins and covering that butt.

20 the sun finally comes out shortly before it’s time to set.

 21 He had a swim around the computer desk in the hotel room.  Then I had a nice float and some stretching exercises in the hotel pool. Just to prove I don’t actually melt in water, So far…

 22 The mostly empty hotel

 23 The greatest shock of 2020 thus far is I now float,….. in a pool that is saltwater….as long as I hold on to the rope.  I wonder if this new skill will last into 2021?

Have a fabulous week and a nice relaxing X-mas!  I hope you get lots of Fiber, spinning wheels, wonderful inspiring books probably about felting and maybe a loom or two.

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!) Pet Two Part 3 She is Naked! We must fix that!!!

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!) Pet Two Part 3 She is Naked! We must fix that!!!

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!)

Pet Two Part 3 She is Naked! We must fix that!!!


Now it’s time for me to start adding a bit of colour! this is where we left off last time.


this is the understructure of the manta ray next will be laying colour on top of the structure, like a gresi painting.

12 1-2 laying in the T line so she is an oceanic manta

If you have taken art classes, either commercial or fine art, you may have had a teacher that reminded you that paintings with large black spaces are not as effective as deep shadows with suggestions of something within the shadows. So not a solid black but layers of dark blue, green, charcoals and browns with maybe a bit of pure black. I mixed the darkest charcoal with a very dark green and blue. I also started to add some of the lighter greys in thin wisps over top to give that dappled light effect.

 3-5 base layer of simplified pattern and fibres I was working from

 I kept a zip-lock sandwich bag of mixed greys which I could then make lighter or darker as I needed.

676-7 Zip-lock of greys, a bit of mixed colour sitting on her shoulder about to be added in a thin layer over the dark sections.

Distracted by Princess Auto flyer, the snap ring plyers I have and use to bend the ends of the wire are very tiny and not as smooth as I would like. So I will be off to check these out at next weeks’ sale. I will likely also replace my old wooden bench (the one I was stuffing unskirted raw wool into bags on) while I’m there.

 8-9  This is Next week’s Princess Auto flyer! Another great place for fibre related tools, really! It is where I found the Bee combs! (Yes!! We got the Bench!! However, they were out of the cool plyers)

I added the Dorsal fin, I made the basic shape and added it just above the base of the tail. I then build up the sides of the fin to give it more of the correct shape.

1011 10-11 added the Dorsal fin then built up the sides

After checking with the photo reference I brought the darkness around the edge of parts of the wings


12-13 Bringing the colour to the edge and just around.

Next adjusting the angle on the lower part of the white shoulder markings and adding white to cover thin areas where the understructure was showing through. So far she does not have any under spotting but I may revisit before the end of the entire project.

1415 14-15 Final touch-ups on the back of the mantel.

16-19 looking good, but she will need eyes so she can judge that for herself

Time to add eyes!  Hmm, I think we need a bit more extension on the eye orbs or she will not be able to see around her Cephalic fins. I surrounded the pupil then used the super sharp scissors to cut off the excess. (I found these again at Dollarama, for 4.00 Canadian, they have worked very well so I bought a couple more pairs).  I may leave her for a couple of days then re-evaluate the eyes, they are not quite right yet but close!

  20-24 Adding eyes and the nice scissors from Dollerama

I think the heat was getting to her since she started her photoshoot by stealing my glasses and mask!

  25-27 Mantas seem to be curious and playful and maybe a short-sighted

Oddly, the glasses seem to fit her.  Unfortunately, the mask does not quite cover both her mouth and gills.

So on to the photoshoot!!!


28-29 She seemed a little static in her poses, so l let her loose in the garden to have some fun.

     303132       3335343736  30- 37 A quick swim through the front garden (wait till she finds out there is a back garden!)

I took her out to buy butter tarts and to show Ann. It’s good to get out and meet new people but she forgot to wear her mask!! I think she will need to quarantine before she can play with her Mer-People!!!

38-40 Felting is better with Butter tarts

I hope you have enjoyed the creation of my adolescent female Manta Ray. I still have more to do with this set of sculptures so please keep checking in on how it is going. Have fun and Keep felting!!

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!) Mer-Pet 2  part 2; Parts are missing, She needs her mouth and abdomen!!

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!) Mer-Pet 2  part 2; Parts are missing, She needs her mouth and abdomen!!

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!)

Mer-Pet 2  part 2; Parts are missing, She needs her mouth and abdomen!!

Next day it was back to the side yard and I started working on the inside of the mouth

132 1-3  I have to think about this, I have it unfolded. So am I working on the roof or floor of the mouth? I got myself sorted out, wrapped the wire and added the base layer. Let’s look at the details of what the mouth should look like.

   4-7 reference images for mouth

The last 2 manta are swimming upside down. The upper lip looks deeper than the original photos I had viewed.

Consulting the open mouth photos I had found, I added the gill arches and gill rakers.

These poor guys are being caught and killed for the gill rakers which are used as Chinese medicinal products to the point there numbers have dropped significantly. Dive groups are trying to educate governments that live Rays will generate more money through tourism (dives/snorkel tours) rather than what they will get from a corpse.

 8–11 Adding the gill arches and gill rakers

12-13 Glenn holding the parts together.



14 I added the dark interior to the upper pallet of her mouth.

I also extended the upper lip which seemed to be longer than I had originally thought from other photos I was consulting. This is likely a mistake. I suspect the image I was looking at was falsely labelled as a manta and was a Mobular of unusual sized and colour. (Another option is that this manta has had Lip Injections to make her look sexier to any male manta who is a lip man?) I may be able to decrease the extension a bit.

Now for the outer gill flaps on the underside of the body.

 15-16 making gill pieces

I used pins to hold the folded edge of the gill pieces. They work well to keep my fingers away from the pointy end of the needles and acted like handy extra hands.  I left the wispy side un-felted to improve attaching the gill covers.

By feeling from the underside, I located the first and last gill arch. I used a bit of grey fibre to indicate the position on the outside of the body. I estimated the position for the gills in between.

17-18 adding gills

If you are going to make a manta and want to add gills I would strongly suggest starting with the one farthest away from the mouth and work back towards the mouth.

Now let’s add the lower jaw/ gills smoothing into the body.

  1919 Checking the back after attaching the abdomen/mouth. Looks good.

2021 20-21 Check the attachment on the underside and the alignment of the mouth

The join to the body on the underside is too severe an angle. I will need to add more fibre to smooth the join between the body and wings. I also noticed that the join between the lower jaw and underside of the Cephalic fins needs a bit of work and the jaw angle is off a bit too.


Back to the side yard and let’s do the final adjustments to the understructure. It’s a bit warm today but there is a light breeze.

22-23 the side yard studio, it was a bit warm.

242524-25 working on her lip problem. I used the edge of the foam I was holding my needles in.

26272826-28 I started to blend the body with the wings. I also thickened the white fibre on the underside of the wings.

It was good to see one of my Guild Friends drop by on her way to do other errands. I picked the catnip behind the big anvil for her furry kids to enjoy.

 29 -30  if you look very closely the slightly rusty coloured thing under the very large plant of catnip is a large anvil.

Now Glenn can use his hammer and anvil again without attracting all the neighbourhood cats! (aromatic hammered catnip not as good as it sounds)

Then it was time to get back to work, but more on that next week.


First Mer-Pet

First Mer-Pet

First Pet for the Mer’s (“it followed me home, can we keep it?” begged Mer-Teen “Only if you take it for walks and clean its litter box” replied Mrs Mer.)

This has again been a busy week. We were off to see if the walker had arrived on Friday and found out that they had received 2 walkers they hadn’t ordered and not the one I had ordered. So maybe it will be this week.  Saturday we had a trip out the Farmers Market at the log farm not too far away from home. Ann and her Husband have a booth there. (go for the butter tarts, stay for the cookies, sausage, meat pies, bread …. And that is just at Ann’s booth. Ann is multi- talented!!)




I added the fingers and hands to my Mer-Teen and worked on musculature for the forearms  I did a bit more musculature on the tail giving it vestigial quads, Knees, gastrocs and even Glutes (I may have to upgrade the gluteal endowment on her parents!! They are sadly lacking.) I now have the under-structure about to the stage I want for the Mer’s. So I ordered some coriadail.  Most were for possible skin tone blending from our local fibre store, Wabi Sabi on Wellington St.  They were doing order on-line with pick-up 2 days a week. Glenn kindly said he would go fetch the fibre for me.



While I was waiting for the fibre pick-up day to arrive, I considered possible pets that the Mer’s should have. So I browsed Google image for sharks and found I liked the great white and the huge one that had some particularly good photos taken of her.

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Armed with a substantial selection of sharkness from many different angles I set to work building an armature. Using the aluminum wire from the dollar store I made a basic skeleton with lower jaw, pectoral, dorsal, second dorsal and caudal fins.

14 14

Working from the same, now quickly shrinking batt of alpaca, (thanks Ann!! I hope you find another one you don’t want!), I started at the head/jaw and worked towards the tail.  As you can see, I was watching Sara’s Felt along flowers while building a juvenile great white shark.  Just to the right is my photo reference to help me get the jaw and head the right shape.


After the felt along was finished I switched back to playing Runescape while felting (Multitasking!! That is my greatly missed Dog’s character in the gold armor. I got him an account because it wasn’t fair that the cat got to have an account and he didn’t.) You can see I have reached the pectoral fins and the nose angle and jaw line are now closer to realistic.

16 16

Eventually I put on an audio book and really made some progress. Now I’m only a few fins short of a shark.


A quick break for gardening and it was on to the missing bits to finish her off.


So now I have the Mer-teen under layer reasonably close to what I was hoping for and the female juvenile great white shark under layer done .  I have one more pet underway but I will show you that later.

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Today I was off to Wabi Sabi to pick up my wool order (Coriadail and Shetland). I separated each colour into its own bag with a tag so I can reorder, as I get low. (This will help a lot since I don’t always remember where I got a fibre)


Tomorrow I am hoping to start some colour blending, now that I think I have the base colours I want to work from. I still have to find the alpaca I was looking for and part of that bump of white South American coriadale I got quite a few years ago. I think I saw them in the living room last, now where could they be hiding?


Stay healthy and keep your hands in warm soapy water with wool.






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