Saturday, December 31, 2011

Making Fabric Flow

I thought I would post a little something on how to make fabric more interesting for our clients.
Fabric on small figures should be treated as if it was in scale with the figure. Too often artists will simply let the fabric hang on the figure without adding motion to the material. The result is that we have great sculpts with big, puffy clothing or a figure with no motion to the sculpture.
Here are some simple things which an be done to the fabric to add motion:

STARCH- many artists starch or otherwise treat the fabric. This works well but you run the risk of losing the form during shipping or using a much larger box to ship the "frozen" fabric. Larger box= more money!
HEAT- This is a very simple way to make minor adjustments in clothing. I like to use the heat gun to make clothing sag on the body as real clothing does on our frames.
WIRE- I like this technique because you can get more dramatic looks to cloth and they can still be shipped in a small space without worry of damaging the form of the cloth.
 I am adding material to the piece to add another layer of color and texture to try and make her more interesting.
I cut a piece of blue material for the draping.
 Using glue, I turn a hem in the edges. Into this I insert a 20 gauge jewelry wire. For those who can sew a small seam, I always recommend sewing over gluing.
 Three sides of the cloth have wire. The top edge is left without.
The cloth is draped over the body  so a wind-blown, flowing motion is created.

 The fabric is tacked to the body with Fabri-tac in a few spots where it will not be seen if the cloth shifts.

Extra folds are pinned in place then the fabric is heated with the heat gun to relax the fabric.

Feathers can be treated like cloth if you are careful. Support the feather with a rounded form (in this case I use the handle of my sculpting knife) and apply heat from a heat gun. Keep the gun about 12" away from the feathers and heat them gradually so they will curve away from the heat.

Here is the finished piece with the fabric and the feathers curved to add some wind to the piece. The hair was also heated from the same direction (your right) so it has tendrils which are blowing in the wind as well.
Thanks for looking and have a great New Year!


  1. Thank you for really wonderful tips...I am working on an angel now that will be draped in a silk gauze...I am going to use this tip for her gauze drape...
    Happy New Year.
    Bonnie J

  2. Mark, Thank you so very much for this info! I struggle so much with costuming! This will help me tremendously!

    Thank you!

  3. Hi Mark,
    As always, a wonderful tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! You are appreciated. Happy New Year to you and you wonderful family!!

  5. wow interesting is putting it mildly Mark. She is fabulous!!! Thanks so much for the much needed help on this! Christel

  6. Oh Mark! You are not going to believe this,,,, but I am finishing up a piece that I will be using this very tip. I have been trying to drape her loosely and you just did that "perfectly" as always!! Thank you so much! I feel like this is personal present! Thank you so much for all that you share! You are truly inspiring! Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!!!
    Carla Gonvalves/IncantoStudios

  7. Gorgeous piece, nothing more needed, she's stunning !

  8. Thank you Mark, these tips mean so much to me.Stephen.B

  9. Truly amazing as always! Would you consider doing a tutorial on feather wings?


  10. Gracious of you to post. Supremely awesome of you.