There, I Said It
I hate wrapping felting armatures. I hate, hate, hate, hate it. I am so not a fan of it that knowing it’s the next step in the process for something I’m working on can sometimes keep me from wanting to continue a project all together. The amount of naked wire frames I have piled in my closet is horrifying. Unfortunately, it’s also important when working with armatures. Without a wrapped layer around the frame, it’s incredibly difficult to get fiber to stick around the wire for your sculpture. So, if you’re just starting out with armatures or are having a bit of trouble with them, here are a few tips you may find handy when wrapping:
- Pipe-cleaners are your friends. You can use them solely for your armature — and I often do if I’m making something small — but if you bend them around the wire of a larger piece, having that bit of fuzz will help keep your wrapping in place.
- Be sure you’re wrapping the wool around the wire taut and flat as if it were ribbon. I find it easiest to keep it in this formation by holding the fiber between my index and middle finger. If you don’t keep it flat you can end up with bulges that may take extra time to needle felt into your desired shape later on.
- It’s ok to have a few blank spots. The goal is to have enough of your work covered so that you won’t have any issues adding wool to your sculpture later. I usually end up having the very tips left blank.
- If you’re wrapping the fiber tightly enough, you won’t need to use the actual needle very much to keep it in place. It does help to use it here and there if something seems like it won’t stay secure the way you want it to, but be sure that you’re felting very gently and around the wire. If you end up striking the wire frame, it’s ok, but if you aren’t being gentle your needle can blunt, bend, and even snap.
- This happens to me frequently and it gets incredibly frustrating. Eventually when you felt with an armature– even if you’ve finished with wrapping — your needle may very well get stuck between wires. If this happens to you DO NOT WIGGLE THE NEEDLE TO GET IT FREE. To get the needle out, pull it gently but firmly straight in the same direction it went in. If it doesn’t want to be removed immediately, ease up on it and try again until it releases. It may take several tries.