Introduction: Wire Armature Device

When sculpting clay, you often need an armature.
An armature is a hidden support, a kind of skeleton, on which the clay will rest. It brings you comfort while sculpting because it keeps everything still, avoids over-manipulation and then prevents damaging the parts you've already shaped.

There's infinite ways to build an armature, depending on the scale, the weight it'll have to support, the durability, etc. For small or medium sized figurine, the cheapest way to get an armature is to use wire.

The armature is also an important part of stop-motion animation. Again, there's plenty of ways to do it and, again, the cheapest way is to use wire. Aluminum wire.

Now, let's say you need to sculpt a bunch of characters and they all need to look alike: same shape, same height, same proportions,...

You could mesure the different parts, cut the wire and assemble it (sometimes with epoxy putty)... I did that already.

I wanted a simpler way to do it, and do it with more regularity and effectiveness.

So I came up with this wire armature device.

Step 1: How It Works

Step 2: What You'll Need

  • A piece of wood (wood offcuts are perfect for this)
  • Shelf holder / pins / nails / screws

*** These IKEA shelf holder are the best choice for me because they're round, removable and I have plenty of them ***

  • A drill
  • A wire cutter
  • Some wire

Step 3: Pattern

First you need a pattern.

For the anecdote, I found a toy/puppet of 15cm (the size I wanted for my armature) and placed it on a sheet of paper then traced the outlines. I had my one line armature. Then I draw a point each time the line was doing a curve. After a few experiment I cut the number of dots to 6 (foot, foot, pelvis, hand, hand and neck)

Now you don't have to do this previous part because I provide the pattern on a sheet (picture 01). Just know that each square is 1x1cm and that this pattern is for a 15cm tall character. Adapt it if you want, extend the arms or shorten the legs is totally up to you. Move the dots, that's all.

***Keep in mind that your armature will shrink a little after you twist the wire. The more you twist, the more it shrinks. Don't twist to much though or you'll apply an unnecessary pressure on the wire and weakened it.***

Once you've made your choice. Place the sheet on the piece of wood and mark it with a nail or drill.

Step 4: Drill the Holes and Add Notes

Remove the sheet and drill the holes. While you're at it, you can also make some more on the edge to keep your pins. The device stays flat and it's more convenient to store.

You don't need to drill too deep, but the pins should be properly engaged. You don't want them to move or come off while you're bending the wire around them.

If you think you'll forget how to connect the dots, take a pencil and draw the line on the wood.

Step 5: Give It a Try!

Cut one meter of wire and bend it as shown in the video (or following the notes on the wood).

You can use all types of wire (steel, aluminum, copper,...), change the thickness, superimpose two or more. Try, experiment what's best for you and what you're creating.

Once you're done, you can give your armature the position you want. You can use screws to tie it down in a piece of wood, wrap it in aluminum foil and strart adding the clay.

Step 6: What I Did With It

Here's an exemple of two similar characters in different positions.

(Wire armature covered with aluminum foil and clay)

Step 7: BONUS

Once you've made one for your little character you can change the pattern and try new shapes.

Here's a little experiment : a 12cm hand.

Enjoy ! Have fun ! Share what you come up with !

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