Monday, March 14, 2011

Stock of the Trade - Clothespins

There are three types of clothespins that you might use. Here are some:


The item on the left is the traditional spring clothespin. I have seen them used, but I have avoided them because I haven't figured out what to do with the spring, so I don't want to pay the extra price for it (being cheap and all).

The second two items are flat clothespins, which I will focus on in this blog entry. The final one is called a doll clothespin and is fully round. As they are similar in size to the pawns that I use, are are also round, I generally do not buy the round clothespins. Maybe someday.

So, there are two sizes of flat clothespins, large and small (left and right, respectively, in the figure below).

The large figure is 3 3/4" tall, 3/8" thick, and 1/2" wide (at its widest part). The part is divided into three sections, from top to bottom: head, torso, legs, and excess. The head is about 5/16" tall and it flat on the top, making it easy to add extra material on top for a hat. The torso section is 9/16" tall and has weak shoulders and 'love handles'. :^D The leg section is 11/16" tall. The last section is what makes this a clothespin, and is usually cut off as excess. (Note that it is the part that I used for the legs in my clockwork soldier that I am working on, so even though it is excess for most projects using a clothespin, don't throw it away. You never know when it will come in handy and get used.)


The small figure is 2 1/2" tall, 1/4" thick, and 7/16" wide (at its widest part). The part is divided into three sections, from top to bottom: head, torso, legs, and excess. The head is about 5/16" tall, but a little more rounded on top, so if you are going to make a hat you may end up cutting some of this area off. The torso section is 1/2" tall and also has weak shoulders and love handles. The leg section is 1/2" tall. As with the large figure, the excess at the bottom (section outlined in red, in the figure below) is usually cut off and can be used for something else.


So, from these basic parts you can easily make two different sorts of figures from each size clothespin: tall and stocky or short and stocky. The first is tall and stocky, and consists of cutting off the excess sections (all but the red area, shown in the figure below). The large clothespin will yield a figure 1 9/16" tall while the small clothespin will measure in at 1 5/16" tall. Note that this is not much different in the height (1/4"), but the small figure is 1/8" thinner and less wide by only 1/16", so the proportions on these figures are very different.

The figures below show the head area (outlined in light blue) and the leg area (outlined in light green), with the remainder being the torso area.


With this style you have only one cut, but it often looks better to glue craft sticks or a heart shape to the bottom to represent feet, so this is a little more work.

Another way of using the clothespins is for a very small and simple figure, a bit stocky and big-headed, but simple to use as you simply make one cut and you have a ready-to-paint figure (assuming you are going to paint on the arms). As shown in the figure below, simply cut off and use the red area shown. This is about 1/16" below the notch in the torso area. The light blue outline shows the head - still the same size as with the other figure. The 1/16" area below the notch serves as the "feet", leaving the middle section to represent the torso, hips, and legs. This makes the large clothespin about 15/16" tall by 1/2" wide by 3/8" thick - a very stocky figure!


The small clothespin, on the other hand, will be about 7/8" tall by 7/16" wide by 1/4" thick. Still very stocky, but with a more pleasing shape.

I am sure you can see other shapes in these parts. By cutting below the "leg" section I indicated and into the "excess", you can attach feet and it will appear like you have legs with a gap in the middle. Kenneth van Pelt has used this very successfully to make cavalry figures that use the gap to mount the horse models and to be pulled off an mounted onto stands to the figure is used for both mounted and dismounted duty. You can see that in this picture on his blog, the Penny Whistle.

Well, I received a new load of wood goodies from Woodworks, Ltd., so I hope to have another episode of this where I use spools, barrel beads, doll pins, and bee hives... See you next time!

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