Many metal animal sculptures involve welding and soldering to construct, which make them impractical for beginners. Using simple materials such as wire and foil, you can make whimsical three-dimensional animal art in just a few steps.
Choose an animal to be your subject. If you haven't sculpted before, consider making an animal that is sitting or lying down. This will avoid the extra challenge of balancing your sculpture on legs.
Create a main body with aluminium foil. Crunch the foil into an oval shape matching the proportions of your animal's body. Be sure to make your shape compact and smooth any corners that stick out.
Add wire limbs. Decide on the desired length of your animal's legs, neck and tail. Cut the wire at least 25 mm (1 inch) longer so that you have length to attach it to the foil body. To attach the limb, bend the ends of your cut wire into a hook shape with your fingers or needle-nose pliers. Insert the bent wire end into the aluminium foil. Hook wire into the foil and compress the material around it until it is secure. Continue to attach the other legs, neck and tail in this way until your animal has a basic, stick-figure-like armature.
Use the aluminium foil to add dimension and detail to your animal form. This will also help to hold all of the wire pieces to the main body. Take a small or medium piece of foil and fold them around the wire body parts, excluding the legs. Crunch them securely onto the wire and press any extra foil down to keep a smooth appearance. If you want your animal to be more realistic, refer to a reference photo to get your proportions accurate. Otherwise, create from memory or build a fantasy creature all your own.
Pinch foil to create small body parts, such as ears or tails. Long strips of aluminium work best for this to prevent the pieces from falling off. Be sure that any foil you add is anchored to a larger body part by wrapping the long end.
Position the legs of either a standing or resting creature until the sculpture is balanced. Wrap the legs in pieces of foil that connect to the main body to reinforce the pose. Continue to work on the legs until the wire is covered and the position is stable.
Add details by pinching and twisting bits of foil off of the main form. You may need to add and anchor long pieces of extra aluminium to work with. This technique is great for creating manes, spikes and other texture. Smooth the foil on other body areas to contrast the textured pieces. Bend and manipulate the form you've created until your simple metal animal sculpture takes on a life of its own.
Things you need
- Armature wire
- Needle-nose pliers
- Photo (for reference)