resources, supplies, tips and tricks

I’ve put together a little collection of resources for you – some of my favorite tools and supplies and a couple tips and tricks. There are one or two things I’ve talked about before and lots of favorites I’m sharing for the first time.  If there’s something that’s not included that you’re curious about – feel free to ask – I’ll do my best to hook you up.

stuffing

Stuffing

I spend a lot of time stuffing things, sometimes starting over  a number of times and I have a strong preference for wool – you can find wool stuffing here.  I use a doll needle to move stuffing around from the outside to fine tune a shape – it can add so much character.  And my main stuffing tool is an old paintbrush with the bristles clipped off close to the base – it grabs the wool (or polyester) a bit so the tool doesn’t slip through. I have a few in different sizes. Hemostats are also handy for placing stuffing very specifically.

brush for stuffing

For making things stand up on their own, especially something top heavy like a mushroom, weighted fill does the trick. My favorites are glass bead fill and crushed walnut shells. Tip: to prevent spillage I double stitch the bottom seams. You can also make a little pouch from an old pair of tights, put in the fill and insert that into your soft sculpture.

ann wood mushroomAnd what about that curvy stem?  Wire works and there are lots of wire recommendations below but this works better: doll armature or coolant hose – it’s easy to work with and holds its shape well – you can do impossible looking things with it.

armature

wire

I use a bunch of different kinds of wire for armatures, bird and owl feet and other stuff, these are my favorites:

paper covered millinery wire – disclaimer – it is spring steel and not easy to work with but it produces beautiful stable shapes. I use it for ship armatures – find it  here  (scroll all the way to the bottom of the page for the paper covered sort). They also have special joiners for it.

fabric ship30 gauge cloth covered spool wire – For things that just need a little support – like little bird tails. Find it here.

17 gauge brown paper covered stem wire – This stuff is sturdy and covered with brown crinkly paper – great for larger stems – I use so much of it I get it by the case – find it here.

paper covered wire –  It comes in a number of gauges and also makes great stems – the paper is smooth and paintable – I also use this for ship armatures.  Find a nice selection of sizes here.

Hillman 18  or 19 gauge steel wire – It’s my preferred  wire for bird legs – one side is a little bit flat and the helps the bent joints hold together – find it here. And the full bird leg tutorial is here.

Hillman 16 gauge utility wire – For larger owl and bird feet – find it here.

Notions etc.

Appliqué pins – They are pretty! And great for small work – find them here.

applique pinsCotton Sateen – The sheen is lovely – just enough – and it dyes beautifully – find it at Dharma Trading.

Dylon Dyes – bright true colors – the Velvet Black is fantastic. Google to find suppliers in the US- there are lots and find the full selection here.

Tiny Ribbon – I love 4mm silk embroidery ribbon for mini bow ties for birds and all sorts of other little details – the color selection is fabulous – find it here.

cake topper birds

Other Stuff

Chenille pipe cleaners – the nice ones- imported from Germany – they come in different thicknesses and are dyeable – find them here.

Flora brand floral tape – Not all floral tapes are created equal – this is the only brand I buy – nice and crepey and not overly sticky – it  takes paint and glue well. Find it by the box here.

Crepe Paper – There is a huge selection here and some fancy stuff here.

Lascaux  Acrylic Paint – A little more expensive but so worth the investment – saturated color and wonderfully matte  when dry. It’s available in lots of Art supply stores including Dick Blick.

 

Photography Tips

canon remote

I wish I got this years ago – a remote switch for my camera  (I use a Canon). So handy for awkward shots and getting out of my own way. It’s very inexpensive – less than twenty bucks at B and H Photo.

White foam core board – The last tip is super simple and I use it all the time. I don’t have great light here – to get rid of shadows I use a piece of white foam core board to reflect sunlight and fill in shadows – it makes a huge difference -check  it out in the  lamb images below.

lamb_shadow

lamb shadow

 Updates 4//7/2016:

Wooden parts– huge selection – great for paper mache and fabric boats:

My new favorite paint- Holbein Acrylic – not cheap but less expensive than the super fancy Lascaux I love and it has a lovely matte finish and saturated colors.

Sublime stitching – you might already know but just in case – they have great supplies and a huge library of stitch tutorials.

Turning tubes – for those long and skinny tiny parts you need to turn right side out -I only recently discovered the magic.

And finally pocket – it’s an app – so many people recommended it but I resisted – once I tried it though I couldn’t do without it . It basically saves and organizes articles for later and they can ( mostly0 be read off line.

 

26 Comments

  1. I am re-inventing myself at 53, and although it is not in a handmade creative way…. I so love seeing what you are up to and how generous you are with your time and process. Inspirational even though only tangentially related. I can touch creation virtually via your blog. Thank you.

    • Hi mims – I just turned 50 and it’s a kind of a re-invetion year for me too – glad you feel a connection.

  2. I doing any kind of creation I can with my hands. Thank you for sharing your creative tips & tricks….you are generous as these are helpful! Hope you are having a wonderful sunny day like we are today. Cheers!

  3. Thank you so so much for all your information. I have been making an insect undercarriage out of wire…I can’t remember the gauge…and it nearly killed my hands! Maybe paper covered wire might be kinder on the hands. I just adore your work…and thank you for your generosity.

    • Hi Bonnie – you are so welcome! Stick with higher gauge wire ( 20 and above) and maybe get some needle nose pliers- saves wear and tear on the hands.

  4. thanks so much for the resource list. I love your ships so much!

    I am curious about the wool you use to stuff with.
    I am a handspinner and I can get my hands on wool. I also can card it into batts. I am wondering if that would be good.

    thanks again!
    Rita

  5. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this list together and sharing it with us!

  6. Holy-moly! I feel like I just had 20 Christmases all rolled into one. What a motherlode of great info! I am also in a re-invention stage of sorts, having just retired at age 62. Finally, finally(!) I have time to be creative without the pressure of time restraints and constant interruptions. So, this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Right now I’m doing mostly paper sculpting of botanicals, mostly flowers, both light & billowy (crepe paper, tissue paper, rice paper), as well as twisted paper techniques woven around wire….hoping to sell to local boutiques for window displays.

    One question — do you poke the doll needle into the sculpture from the outside to shift the stuffing around on the inside?

    As always, many, many thanks, Ann, for your generous sharing.

    -Suzanne

  7. Dear Ann

    Your work is truly magical….I have been in love with your ships and spiders eversince I first saw them. I just purchased the ships pattern and I am over the moon you are sharing your resources with us!!!! I so so love the “cocoon body ships”(sorry….don’t know how else to say it…)…I am still dreaming of ever owning one of your spiders 🙂 thank you again for being so generous …I love love love all the patterns!!!!!kind regards Desiree

  8. Hi ann – me again. I am wondering if you will be offering any more patterns for sale in the future. I bought the owl pattern and made the large one in black linen and velvet – now I’m trying to scruff him up a bit. Anyway, wouldn’t mind a mushroom or toadstool pattern……def gonna get some fabric coated wire to try to make that white lacy boat!!!! Over to you….
    Cheers,
    val

  9. Hi Ann, What a treasure trove of resources! I can wait to try out some of these wires and the wool stuffing in my own doll making. I love your birds and ships so much, and love seeing the other critters in your studio on other posts. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise!
    xoxo lulu

  10. Suella Postles

    Love your site and keeping up with your progress. How I envy you the treasures and people resources you have built up.

    Thank you for sharing your supplies and suppliers. Very much appreciated. May I post a link on pinterest please?

  11. Hi Ann, I finally got back to blogging after a busy spell away. Started it off with the long overdue pattern recommendation from your Little Bird pattern I bought. This post on tips and tools is so great too. How generous of you to make the time for it – a treasure trove for softie makers.

  12. I love seeing your emails plop into my inbox – the anticipation of reading your inspiring words and how often you share and unravel the mysteries of your pieces. This list of go to places on the web is like gold dust, with a sprinkling of magic. I don’t always have time to comment, but read every post you write. Thank you so much for the paper covered wire link. Why couldn’t I find that when I looked!

  13. You are so generous sharing these things. Thank you! I love your ships, but particularly the ones you’ve crafted out of wire, I’d love to have a go so will have a hunt for the correct wire. They look pretty hard to construct!!

  14. This article has been around awhile, and the link to Flora brand floral tape doesn’t work anymore. I was wondering if you had a replacement link?

    Thanks for sharing your valuable resources and adding more joy to your “make something” community.

    • annwood

      Hi Lucie – thanks for the heads up – just updated the link.

  15. Hi All I can say is Fantastic all ways I save all blogs , can never erase them I would like too find Feather patterns, an materials, I wonder can you help me,? have you done them with your works? thanks so much Renee

  16. Hi All I can say is Fantastic all ways I save all blogs , can never erase them I would like too find Feather patterns, an materials, I wonder can you help me,? have you done them with your works? thanks so much Renee

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