Tuesday, April 24, 2018

From Beeswax to Ewe Smooth to Swax to Tacky Wrap: What's what?

Sarafina offers many original and unique products, made in house, for use in perfecting your needle felting sculptures or making the process more efficient.  Over the years we have used them in our video tutorials as they developed; therefore, not every tutorial makes use of our current product line and more products may arise!  If we had Swax when filming the mouse, for example, Sara would not have used beeswax on those tiny toes.

The following will inform you about the possible uses of each product allowing you to choose the correct one for your project.  Keep exploring the many uses of these materials to see how they work for you!

Beeswax:  The original beeswax, which Sara used early on in her tutorials, is for fingers and toes on animals and people.  You dip the wire into the wax and it helps the fiber stick.  We offer it in clear (white) and black.  Beeswax is not for use on top of wool as it will dry brittle and flake.  If you are interested in a product that can be used both under and on top of the fiber you will want to consider Swax.

Ewe Smooth:  Ewe Smooth was our first development to help tame fibers.  It can be rubbed onto your hands as you work with fiber and does not need to be melted.  We considered stopping the Ewe Smooth production once we had Swax and Tacky Wrap, but people said "No!  Keep it!"  So we did :)  Felters like having it to rub onto their hands when working with wool, especially in the winter when hands are dry.  A fun discovery was that it is good to have some on your hands when working with Swax.  It helps the stickiness of Swax stay off of your fingers and it is easier to press Swax into fiber to create a smooth and shiny finish.

Bunny Butter:  We are tossing this in here because it is another product that we make in house (in Talbot's Waxology Lab).  Bunny (and Gnome) Butters are intended to be a hand lotion.  It really does a nice job with dry hands.  It can also be used when working with Swax to keep the Swax off of your hands and smooth onto the project.

Powertex/Fabric Hardener:  We offer the fabric hardener for anything that you want to completely stiffen on a project.  This is great for application on things like a horse hoof, beak, talon, or horn.  After experimenting with Powertex and Swax, we have found that your fiber will do much better accepting the fabric hardener when it is well felted.  It essentially solidifies any texture or imperfection.  You can add Swax to the top of the Powertex.  For a smoother finish, we would suggest only using Swax.  It is best to experiment with these applications on a piece separate from your finished sculpture first so you know what to expect.  You can apply Powertex with a paintbrush and it will wash out.  Do not let it harden on the paintbrush though!

Tacky Wrap:  Tacky Wrap can be rubbed onto your wire before wrapping.  There is no melting needed.  It keeps the wires nice and sticky so you can get a small amount of fiber wrapped onto the wire and it will stay put.  It will stay sticky so you do not want to use it on top of wool.  Tacky Wrap is offered as a "Sticky Bun" or as pre-dipped Tacky Wrap Sticks.  The sticks are thoroughly coated and convenient to use.  The Sticky Bun can be rubbed onto any wire and even allows you to omit the pipe cleaner on aluminum wires if you really want a skinny wrap but need aluminum wire (like on the Doe project).  Tacky Wrap is one of Sara's favorite creations and we are so pleased to offer it to needle felters.  Sara shows its use in detail on the Tacky Wrap Tutorial.

Swax:  Another favorite at Sarafina is Swax.  This must be melted to use.  Once melted the wire can be dipped into the Swax, then you can press fiber into it and it will dry but stay somewhat malleable.  Swax will not stay sticky and dries smooth to the touch.  Swax can also be colored with powdered pigment, so if you are making something like a gorilla and want a "shiny" face or chest you can use black powdered pigment in Swax.  Swax can also be buffed a bit when it dries, which creates a nice "shine."  Swax is best applied with a rubber tipped applicator like the Colour Shaper chisel set.  You do not want to use a paintbrush to apply Swax.  You can see Swax in action on the Swax Applications Tutorial.

Happy Felting!


  1. Thanks for this post! As a newbie to this art form I appreciate the breakdown of exactly what the various products do. As I just got a commission for a new-to-me Irish Hare/Mountain Hare, I see some swax, and tacky wrap in my wrap in my future for sure.

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