After adding wire legs to my chickadee sculpture I knew that I wanted to experiment with a wire armature for my next sculpture. So when a friend requested a panda for her daughter's upcoming birthday, it seemed like a perfect fit for my next felting project. Giant pandas are wonderfully round, too, which was a blessing...considering how many layers it took to cover the wire.
Both sides of the panda.
I really thought I knew what a panda looked like. Everyone knows what a panda looks like, right?
Thank goodness for image search engines. It didn't take me long to realize that if I sculpted from memory my panda was going to look like a "cutesy" black and white teddy bear. That wouldn't have been bad...but my intention, again, was for realism.
I started by creating a wire armature as similar to the bone structure of a real panda skeleton as I could manage. I am NOT handy with wire bending yet. After two hours and many failed attempts, the above asymmetrical form was deemed "good enough" to move forward with.
Then I wrapped wool around the wire and needled it together so I had something I could anchor more and more wool to.
This last picture shows my basic panda sculpture after all the fine white wool was added over the course-wool, cream-colored form...just as I began adding the 'black' portions. You can see the one hind foot is already felted black. And though the photo doesn't show it well, the visible front leg is still the course-wool form showing through. I didn't bother adding soft white wool to the areas that would eventually be filled in with black wool. Can you see the difference in texture between the course wool on the front leg and the finer wool on the back leg?