Dear Mom, I’ve been at school for three weeks now, and I still hate the pale green of my dorm room walls. What do they think we are? Prisoners? Classes are going great…
As I previously mentioned, many people love art, and as the popularity of shows like Design on a Dime shows, people like to make their own. Though a degree in art design or a background in craft construction can go a long way, I believe anyone can construct some beautiful, if abstract, decor for the home.
Wire: Why Not? Today, let’s approach wire sculpture. Don’t balk yet, a little can go a long way in the world of wire. I suggest some nice leather gardening or work gloves, a sharp pair of scissors, a pair of wire cutters or uber-aggressive scissors, and maybe a can a spray paint. To gather wire, hunt down your old power cords, telephone wire, cable, twist ties, spiral notebooks, or hangers (or anything else you can think of). Coating can be removed by slicing the casing along its circumference and peeling it back. As you work with these various sources, you will easily find tricks for peeling the wire from the casing. Notebooks can be disembodied by un-threading the coil (3 rings can rescue anything you find valuable within). Buying wire is an appropriate option, as well. I suggest your hardware store. (*Cost of materials: if reclaimed, free; if new, about $1.00 a foot based on material and function. A wire cutter costs about $25.)
Once you have amassed your supplies, you can settle in on one (or all) of these four ideas:
1. In a very simple way, circles are popular aesthetic shapes in our lives. In this project, we will take advantage of the natural bend and give of wire, and take our inspiration from wreaths. Sort, align, and wind your wire into coils of the desired diameter and density, and don’t be afraid to mix the varied thicknesses, material, or colors of your wire. Once your wreath is finished, secure it in three or five points around with a snip of wire, twisting to fasten. Several of these coils of varying diameters can be attached together for a bubble-like form. Hang as-is or spray-paint first, or even use flat on a table to hold photographs or surround candles. (Time: One hour. Cost: Materials*)
2. Using a wire hanger, a photo frame, rings from an old lampshade, or some other framing, you can wind a stiffer wire from end to end, diagonally, across, around, over, under…into a web. Take some inspiration from some dreamcatchers and the path of the sinew wound around the ring. Once you’ve created a satisfying geometric pattern, take a more flexible wire and “fill in” some of your shapes (think, stained glass) by gently winding the wire around the miniature frame created by the intersecting wires. This will be a bit like embroidery, going through your metal web “fabric.” A few tips: change the shape of your form to be less recognizable before you begin, and if your web-structure wire gets a bit unruly, use thin wire, like twist ties, to anchor it. When beginning or ending a wire, double the end back on itself and thread the free end around the frame and through the loop. (Time: Three hours. Cost: Materials*)
3. Embellishing wire sculpture adds some interest as well as being a source of inspiration. A trip to the mineral and gem store, the waterfront, or your back yard will expose you to objects to wrap wire around, and your craft store or button bucket has supplies to thread through. My design is based on the Incan quipu, a method for recording accounts. With each of several lengths of wire, wrap or string embellishments. Arrange vertically in a pleasing order and clip to the same length. Hang a wire of a suitable length taught across a wall or window. Suspend the embellished wires from the main wire and space. Use the way the wire drapes or other inspiring shapes from the quipu presentations to personalize your piece. (Time: Four hours. Cost: est. $15 and Materials*)
4. Forming wire and making it behave is a chore and takes quite a bit of patience and talent. Much easier is to map out a pattern on a board, slightly hammer nails in at strategic turns, and trace your pattern with wire. Repeat as desired and hang. A more complex variation on this is a straight-line-curve like was done with ruler and pencil in grade school. Form two lines in a ninety degree angle and nail evenly spaced points along each line. Wire from the nail furthest from the corner on one line to the nail closest to the corner on the other. Wire the second-furthest nail on one line to the second-closest nail on the other, the third furthest of one to the third closest on the other, and so on until all the nails have been used. The end result is a curved edge, and you can vary this by varying the length of each line, the angle at which they meet, or whether they meet at all. The key is equal numbers of points along each line. For an illustration, see the animation here. (Time: Three hours. Cost: $7 and Materials*)
While you’re nursing any leverage injuries from cutting wire and treating your poked fingertips, kick back, admire your handiwork, and take a break until next time.
Image courtesy of Darwin Bell