Mr. Mer has spent another week making subtle comments about wanting an upgrade on his muscles…the fishy ones this time. His fishy bits are based on a Northern Pike which is common in the lake at my parents’ cottage. I have been beefing up his fishy bits but he says he is not ready for his close-up. I will keep working on his upgrades and try to tempt him to show you as soon as he feels he is done. SO we will get back to him in a blog or two.
1 Northern Pike reference
While we wait for him, I had something else I wanted to show you.
For the last week, I have been watching non-felting related videos from curios mondo. They seem to mostly have crafts to do with fabric stiffening products, that they sell, but have had some other interesting topics too. I did catch parts of the nine-class, workshop series on making a wire-wrapped bug necklace with beads. (They do the live broadcast free or you can buy the workshop and watch all of them at your leisure. So far I’m cheap and have so far only watched the live ones.)
You never know what you will be able to pick up while watching or taking a class. This includes topics that are not actually on the topic you mainly do. Even with missing large parts of the workshop, it gave me some odd ideas I wanted to investigate further. (yes, I will get back to that in a moment)
The instructor, while teaching, used the stepped pliers. I had been curious as to what their original purpose was. He used them while making a bail (it attached the bug to the chain). He also had some very tiny-nosed pliers that might be quite useful for rolling ends of finer gauge wire. I have got to track down a pair of those! He showed an interesting technique of locking the bail and a similar way of making links on a beaded chain that I likely should have written myself notes on.
Another good suggestion he had was putting a mark on tapering rounded pliers so you will get the same size ring on each turning of wire. This would be more important on wire-work that shows but could affect your armature construction if you were working on a smaller scale.
He also work-hardened the antenna of the bug with a hammer (I would have suggested the smallest flattening hammer from the blacksmithing hammers around here which would have been more effective.) This might be useful in armature construction for the tips of claws if they are exposed? Or stiffening antler wires? You don’t want to work-harden the wire too much or it will be more prone to breaking when bent or posed. So, an area that will not be repositioned frequently like tips of claws or antlers may be fine.
Now back to what I got distracted thinking about while I was suppose-to-be learning to make wire-work bugs necklaces (with beads). It just doesn’t seem fair to give Mr. Mer a tennis ball but not give him a tennis racket.
Oddly, In last weeks guild social one of our members had made a tennis racket and was next going to felt a tennis ball. I seem to be working opposite to her as I had Mr. Mer’s tennis ball (which I used as my show and tell) so now it’s time to make him the racket to go with it.
I have tried to play tennis in my much younger days. It did not go well. My glasses move if I run or suddenly change direction so I can’t see anything beyond blurs. This makes it hard to hit or dodge a moving object. I also got tennis rackets that tennis balls seem to be able to go right through!! That doesn’t seem fair at all. But if Mr. Mer would like to try then I should let him. It may go better for him than it did for me. I am not sure if there are different rules for water tennis. I should ask my niece about that. She might know. (She is very good at swimming, which I am not)
Now how to make the racket. It will be wirework! The gauge will be important. With Something larger for the rim and much finer for the stringing. I will also need to have a wrapped handle. The black floral tape should work. If it is not adhering well I could try black acrylic paint, mog-pog or clear glue to finish it off.
Wire gauge selection
I pulled out and considered from 6 to 14 gauge aluminum for the outer rim. I decided on 9 gauge. The little section of the inner rim had to be finer. After a bit of looking and debating, I felt the 12 gauge – 2mm Dollerama aluminum would likely work. For the lacing I selected the 26 gauge (steel?) coated gardening wire. After making the first racket I can see a way of making the lacing a bit neater but I am content with the first attempt.
2-3 two of the wires gauges I will need
The handle needs to be wider than the width of two 9 gauge wires. I debated between four or three wires and found 3 more in scale.
4 Three 9ga wire looks better than four
Since I didn’t have a bending jig I gently shaped the oval by hand at the top of the 9 gauge wire bringing the handle ends together and adding the middle piece of wire. I added floral tape to hold the handle in shape as I measured, cut, then shaped the lower curve in the 12 gauge wire. I added a wrap of black floral tape before taping it in place on the racket.
5-6 Lower rim of racket added
I cut off a couple of lengths of the 26ga fine coated steel wire. ( If I did this again I would have made each vertical a separate piece and wrap to give the spacing between each string.) I wrapped then laid in the vertical longer strings (9 in total). Then, used the back of the felting needle to create a shed to pass the horizontal strings through. (Why did I not grab the large darning needle hanging from my desk lamp? It would have worked even better.) I added extra wire wrapping around the perimeter which would likely not have been necessary if I had done the wires individually.
7 the strung racket
At this point, I needed a bit more stabilization of the handle. It was compressing towards the base of the racket (The three wires were not sitting flat. One was trying to lift up between the other two.) I can fix such errant behaviour with more wire!!! I pulled the lengths of the 22ga black steel floral wire and carefully positioned and wrapped the thin wire around the parallel 9ga wire. This required another layer of floral tape over top and all looked much neater and more like a tennis racket!
8-10 Adding wire to strengthen the handle
Mr. Mer was thrilled with his new acquisition! Which he held and posed with trying to get just the right look.
11-15 The photoshoot!
Here is a quick idea of scale as I hold his new racket and ball
16 To get a sense of scale
He has put away his racket and ball carefully and wants me to get back to work on his fishiness. Then, maybe finish off the muscles of his arms….maybe some hair…… (Mr. Mer is getting demanding).
17 Good Job Mr. Mer! toys should be put away after you’re done playing.
18 A final shot