Learn how To Needle Felt With Wire – Easy step by step guide
Welcome to The Felt Hub with Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts, here to feed your passion for needle felting! This easy guide to using wire for needle felting will give you a god grasp of what wire to use, and when. From realistic horns, using only wool and a pipe cleaner, to full fox armature.
Links for free download, video tutorials, and felting wire are at the bottom of the post.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE WIRE TO BE GOOD AT NEEDLE FELTING
It may seem an odd place to start but it is important to know that many needle felters, including myself, rarely use a full wire armature. Many new needle felters – mistakenly – think that using wire means you are better at needle felting. This is not the case at all, and the truth is, most needle felting projects don’t need it. In fact, the trustee wooden BBQ skewer can completely change the finished look and stability of your needle felting projects, without the need for any wire. Just check out my Parsley Hare needle felting tutorial on YouTube to see how amazing this tool really is.
NEVER BE WITHOUT A WOODEN BBQ SKEWER
The humble wooden BBQ skewer is in my top 3 needle felting tools. It enables you to quickly, and easily create firm needle parts for your project, without the need for wire. Using one of these will change the way you needle felt. Find out more HERE
PIPE CLEANERS CAN BE YOUR QUICK FIX FRIEND
A BBQ skewer wont work for everything though and a pipe cleaner, or two, makes it possible to add some really clever touches to your project. Especially tails and horns, flower stems, or to stop your legs doing the Fandango every time you try to get them to stand, or when your project is top heavy; why do I feel like I am talking about myself?
ADD STABILITY AND POSEABILITY
Using wire for your needle felting projects will allow you to pose your animal and add more stability. It can be used for just a tail, the legs, neck, or the whole project.
TINY FINGERS, TOES, PAWS, AND CLAWS
This requires a much finer wire and the paper covered steel wire in your pack is just the job. No need for wax, and the wool sticks well to the paper, allowing you to get those delicate details. It also works well for super thin bird’s legs and claws.
SHAPING YOUR WIRES
WIRE SIZES EXPLAINED
Wire gauge refers to the physical size of the wire; the smaller the wire gauge number, the larger/thicker the wire diameter.
Whilst thicker is usually stronger, the type of metal affects its flexibility. Working on a like for like gauge size, Aluminium is the softest and most flexible, copper a little stronger, and steel (the paper covered wire) is stronger still.
GOOD OLD GARDEN WIRE
The plastic covered garden wire is a great substitute if that’s what you have lying around and can’t wait to try needle felting with wire. The plastic is also quite ‘sticky’ so holds the wool well.
12 GAUGE ALUMINIUM ARMATURE WIRE: 2.00mm
Ideal for medium to large lightweight sculptures. Strong but still easily shaped by hand, and with pliers.
Pipe cleaners can be wrapped around the armature so the wool sticks and does not slip and slide.
18 GAUGE ALUMINIUM WIRE: 1mm x 10 metres
Ideal for medium lightweight sculptures. Strong but still easily shaped by hand, and with pliers. Pipe cleaners can be wrapped around the armature so the wool sticks and does not slip and slide.
20 GAUGE ALUMINIUM ARMATURE WIRE: 0.8mm x 10 metres
Great for smaller projects. A finer wire that can be easily shaped by hand. Pipe cleaners can be wrapped around the armature so the wool sticks and does not slip and slide.
STEEL 0.5mm PAPER COVERED WIRE (approx. 26 gauge)
Ideal for tiny fingers, toes, and claws. Wool sticks well to the paper so you can keep your limbs, hands, and toes as small as possible.
STEEL 1mm PAPER COVERED WIRE (approx. 18 gauge)
A very strong paper covered wire that is ideal for projects that are heavier, or taller, or top heavy.
Where would we be without the old faithful pipe cleaners which are perfect for small, lightweight armatures, and especially useful for wrapping around wire armatures so that the wool sticks. Also adds extra strength and stability to neck, back, and limbs, whilst allowing you to felt smaller feet, toes, hands, and claws.
It’s perfect for quick horns and tails, or if you just want part of your project to be poseable or have more stability. Cotton covered pipe cleaners are all pretty much the same with regards to flexibility, unless you opt for a slightly stiffer pipe cleaner.
TOP TIP: DON’T GET HUNG UP ON THE NUMBERS
It really doesn’t matter the size of the wire, as long as it works for your project. It is also very much trial, error, personal preference, and practice.
WATCH THE VIDEO TUTORIALS HERE
You will find lots in The Felt Hub on YouTube. Just look for the NEEDLE FELTING WITH WIRE playlist.
DON’T BE TOO AMBITIOUS
Start with a small simple project, such as horns or tails, and legs. Get used to wrapping the wool and working around the wire before trying tiny fingers and toes. Even the most competent of needle felters usually has a little sigh before starting on those, and it takes practice to get them right, lots of practice, so be patient. Each time you try those tiny paws and claws you will get better.
ALWAYS LEARN THE BASICS OF NEEDLE FELTING FIRST
This is so important, and I can’t tell you the number of people I have seen give up because they have started on a complicated armature project before even using a felting needle for the first time. You have to walk before you run but the basics are quick and easy to learn.
SIMPLICITY CAN BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOUR PROJECTS
The mouse and cat pictured have thin wire in their legs and tail. It is super simple but adds an extra special touch. If in doubt, add a scarf as you can’t go wrong with one of those.
SHOP: Needle felting wire, tools, and accessories
READ: Ultimate Guide To Needle Felting Wool And Sheep Breeds
JOIN THE VIP FELT CLUB AND GET YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD HERE
Easy template to create an armature for your fox or dog. Making an armature is easy, with the right technique, and you can use almost any flexible wire, or pipe cleaners you already have. This simple template will make sure you get the proportions of your needle felted fox, or dog, right every time.