Animal wire sculptures celebrate the natural form, movement and energy of wild animals. Depending on an artist's style and motives, she can manipulate wire to suggest an animal's character in an abstract form or accurately illustrate an animal's true anatomy. If you are new to wire sculpture, it is best to experiment with small gestural forms before moving to complex life-size or larger than life pieces.
Collect photos of animals you like from nature magazines and nature books and freeze-frame images of moving animals in nature programs. The goal is to capture every angle of an animal and to get a sense of its natural movements and expressions.
Sketch the animal in loose, scribble-like strokes, using the collected images as references or drawing from live animals. Once you choose the gesture you want to use for your wire sculpture, sketch the specific gesture from all angles so you can use the sketches as reference when you build. Sketching in a scribbling fashion is best for this project, since bent and layered wire has a similar look.
Put on safety goggles and work gloves to protect your eyes and hands when working with wire.
Cut pieces of wire 2 feet long or shorter. Form the pieces into parts of the animal's anatomy, using your sketches as reference. Join pieces of wire by coiling the free ends around each other. Start with a simple, abstract skeleton of the animal's form before building up muscle and hair.
Smooth out sections of wire with flat nose pliers and create twists and kinks with needle nose pliers.
Spray the finished sculpture with rust prevention spray.
Making repetitive hand movements when twisting wire can result in carpal tunnel syndrome. If this is a concern, wear a wrist brace when working with wire.
Tips and warnings
- Making repetitive hand movements when twisting wire can result in carpal tunnel syndrome. If this is a concern, wear a wrist brace when working with wire.
Things you need
- Animal photos
- Sketch paper
- Safety goggles
- Work gloves
- 20 to 30 gauge florist or paddle wire
- Wire cutters
- Flat nose pliers
- Needle nose pliers
- Rust prevention spray