DIY Drop Spindle Saga II

Or, How To Make A Drop Spindle For Under $5 Using Sheer Bloody-Mindedness And Excessive Stinginess.

A while back I made my first drop spindle using little more than stubbornness. While I certainly have had a moderate amount of success using this caster-wheel spindle, I also am more aware of it’s flaws. (Those of you who were foolhardy enough to follow my directions might want to take notes.) For one, it’s heavy at around 3oz. Defintly too heavy for spinning fine, which I want to do. For two, because it’s heavy, the wheel slowly pushed the tape down the shaft, causing a shift in balace and a slightly sticky mess. I’ve re-taped the thing more than once now – yes, I know that glue would fix this, I just didn’t want to stop and wait for it to dry when I’d already started spinning.

I’ve been looking online at spindles, but (as you may have realized by now) am a stingy person at heart, so am not ready to commit to a purchase. I’d like to know if I prefer top-whorl or bottom-whorl, how light/heavy I’m confortable with, etc. There’s a bag of fibre from my secret pal begging to be spun, and if I’m not going to use the caster-wheel spindle, or the soapstone spindle (which I’m sure wil be good for very fine spinning, in time), or buy something, then I guess it’s time to make more!

Here’s what I did:

I went to the local art supply store and picked up a 500g. bag of air-hardening craft clay, for the very low price of $3.58! I got mine in “terracotta” colour, just because. I still had dowelling left over from the first time, and if I need more they’re like $1.50, so no worries there. Otherwise, the rest of my supplies (kitchen scale, bamboo skewers, waxpaper, water, etc) I had already. I assembled them on my table…

…and began to sculpt!

Ok, yes, by “sculpt” I really mean “play with clay and make a mess on the table”, but you get the point. I tried to keep things as even as possible around the centre hole (not easy, but I tried), and otherwise just had fun trying to replicate whorls I’ve seen elsewhere.

Clay whorl in progress Clay spiral in progress

This is what I ended up with:
Clay whorls

I made a bead-type whorl with incised Celtic-style spirals, a convex whorl with a bit of weight in the centre, and a spiral “clay snake” whorl. I’m going to use the bead-type whorl in a bottom-weighted spindle, and try the other two as high-whorls. I’m a bit worried about how these will hold up when dropped (yeah, it’s still a “when” and not “if”), but there’s only one way to find out! I’ll let you know once the clay dries…

Some of you may remember I wrote the following regarding buying a pack of wooden toy wheels: (I’d guess defrayed cost of individual spindles would work out to under $10 each; I just don’t need 6 spindles!). I’d take it kindly if you would quitely ignore the fact that I will soon have something suspiciously close to six spindles, and plan on making and buying more…



Filed under drop-spindle, how-to, spinning

6 responses to “DIY Drop Spindle Saga II

  1. It’ll be cool to see how these work! Bead/clay spindles are really interesting. (If you do decide to buy a spindle, I really like my Kundert top whorl).

    Have fun trying them out!

  2. Kelly

    “I bought spindles on ebay” she said, in a very small voice. I’ll let you know how that works out!

  3. Wow… I am really impressed you made your own. Have you tried spinning with them yet? They are lovely

  4. Jes

    oo! totally lovely! I think its awesome that your making your spindles yourself. So many folks are just scared to try something like that. Hoorah for you!! (incidentally, I love the bead whorl the best!)

  5. found you via YArnivale – and am really impressed – I’ve added you to my regular blog reads. Any one who makes something from air dry clay to aid their knitting is on my interest list.

  6. Pingback: Make Your Own Spinning Tools | Spindle Obsession

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