How to Make a Wire Doll Armature
Wire armatures can add dimension to any doll 1. For cloth dolls or figurines, they create a sturdy doll that you can pose. For clay art dolls and figurines, wire armatures help define the shape of the doll while giving the sculptor a steady base to sculpt from.
Sketch an outline of the body shape on a piece of paper before beginning. Working out the dimensions of your figure on paper makes it easier to see if you want exaggerated features like an extremely long neck or large head before you begin working with your wire.
Create the backbone of the figure from the top of the head to the seat by twisting at least two strands of wire together; more strands can be used to create a thicker, more sturdy base. If you are creating a cloth doll, the top of the backbone will be inserted into your premade head. The top and bottom of your backbone should end in a loop to keep the wire from poking through your doll.
Add bulk to the torso by shaping shoulders and a rib cage with an upside down triangle made of wire attached to the backbone. The flat top of the triangle creates the shoulders, and the tapering sides are the ribcage moving in toward the waist. Adjust the dimensions as you need to give your doll the shape you want. For a heavier doll like a Santa, add the pot belly with horizontal loops attached to the backbone.
Sculpt the base. If your figure is going to be seated, twist wire together to create a sturdy circular or rectangular base. The legs will attach to this base giving your figurine a realistic human form and adding steadiness to your figure. Attach the base to the bottom of your backbone. The base can be attached by wrapping the wires together and strengthening the bond with tape or with tape alone.
Sculpt the hips. When creating a seated figure, the lower half of the torso should look like a circle cut in half. The curves of the circle show the bulk of the hips, and the flat bottom makes it easier to attach the legs of the figure. The backbone runs through the centre of the half circle just as a human's backbone cuts their lower torso in half. Attach hips to the figure with wire and tape.
Twist strands of wire together to create arms and legs. Loop the wire where the hands and feet would be to keep the wire from poking through your fabric. To create the appearance of feet with your wire, add the length of the feet to the length of the leg and bend the wire 90 degrees at the ankle. Attach the arms and legs to the shoulders and hips.
Pose the armature in the position of the finished piece for a clay doll. Use foil to create bulk in areas like the torso, arms and legs and begin sculpting.
Sew or glue fabric batting to give bulk to your figure for a cloth doll. Add clothes, hands, feet and the head to finish your figure.
You can add a small sewn pouch filled with rocks, sand or rice to the base of a seated figure to give extra weight and steadiness to your doll. Pliers can help when twisting larger gauges of wire. The ideal gauge of wire depends on the size of your figure. If you are using heavier materials like clay or making a large doll, a heavier gauge will give your figure strength.
Wire can be sharp; wear thick gloves to protect your hands.
- geisha doll image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com