Have you ever dabbled with wire art? I remember way back when in art class making little birds and sculptures from bits of wire that the telephone company had donated to the school. So when the ladies from the Int’l Bloggers Club (IBC) decided that this month’s challenge would be “wire,” I thought I’d see if I still had the knack and share some wire art tips with you too.
Did you know that wire art dates back to 3000 BC? Egyptians made the most amazing sculptures and woven jewelry, and in the early 20th century, many artists took the concept to a whole new level. Wire is such a lovely and forgiving medium to work with. We have a stockpile of the stuff that we use to sculpt the tree of life and wire dress wall art. Depending on the gauge or thickness of the wire, it’s really easy to shape too. You can twist, wrap, braid, coil, weave, and even crochet with it.
7 Quick Tips for Making Wire Art
Tip #1 – Find an Interesting Picture
Before you start, you’ll need some reference images. Pick interesting pictures that have a recognizable form – silhouettes and line drawings are an excellent place to start. You can even turn your favorite word into wire art or try making a small spider web. A rough sketch or doodle works too.
You’re welcome to right-click on Mozart and download him to practice your wire art. Something like a brick or a ball is not going to cut it though. Your wire art will end up looking like, …….. well a round circle or a big old, boring rectangle 😀
Tip #2 – Get into the Mood
I need to get into the right mood before I create something. Put on some music, get a cup of your favorite brew, and get comfy. Well as comfy as you can because you need to put some of those super sexy, protective eyeglasses on. Warning – ridiculous reality shot coming up.
LOL, thank goodness I brushed my hair before putting that hat on. Not the prettiest look, but trust me that wire will jump all over the place 😀
Tip #3 – Wire Buying Wisdom
The best and cheapest wire can be found in a hardware store. They usually have a huge selection of galvanized, copper, brass, and aluminum wires to choose from. Baling wire is really cheap, but it may leave an oily residue on your hands. So be warned 😀 Keep some wet wipes nearby. Craft stores normally sell jewelry wire in lots of pretty colors, but it’s more expensive. Another alternative is to use florist wire, which you can find in most chain stores.
Tip #4 – Gauging Your Wire
A wire is measured in a thing called a “gauge.” The higher the gauge, the thinner and easier the wire is to bend. It sounds kinda back to front, right?!! It confused me terribly when I first started, but there’s a perfectly simple explanation. A gauge measures the diameter of the wire in a fraction of an inch. So an 8 gauge wire has a diameter of 1/8″, and a 20 gauge wire is 1/20″. Somewhere along the line, they drop “1/” bit. To make things a little easier I put together a basic wire gauge cheat sheet.
When it comes to wire art, it’s easiest to use something between a 12 and 20 gauge. The 12 gauge is the most difficult to bend with your hands though, and you may need some pliers.
Tip #5 – Sticky Tape is Your Best Friend
Seriously, that wire will jump all over the place, ALL THE TIME!! When you start, stick your wire down. As you follow the form and lay the wire down over your picture, stick it down. When you’ve bent that wire in just the right way, stick it down. If you’ve made the cutest little curly, whirly bit, stick it down. Okay, you get the point 😀 Sticky tape won’t just make it easier to create and keep a form, it will stop that pesky wire from jumping around and poking you in the face. Nuf said.
Tip #6 – Handy Wire Art Tools
Most of the time, I use my hands to sculpt and form the wire, but pliers come in handy too. Especially if you want to make a sharp bend. They’re also great for joining and twisting two pieces together. Oh, and you’ll also need wire cutters. Mom’s sewing scissors just won’t cut it 😀 Okay Mom’s scissors will cut the wire if it’s soft enough, but she may never talk to you again, so it’s probably safer to use the right tool for the job.
Tip #7 – Let Your Hands Do the Talking
If you’re in the right mood, your hands will almost take on a life of their own. You’ll twist and braid and loop and turn the wire, and before you even realize it, you’ve created a form. Trust me on this one. Let your fingers do their thing and just have fun. Don’t forget those safety glasses and don’t poke your eye out.
Bonus Tip – Displaying Your Wire Art
There are so many different ways you can show off your work. Suspend the wire art inside a frame as I did with Mozart, hang it from a mobile or inside a bicycle wheel, or use a block of wood or a stone as a base. Anything goes! For this Mozart inspired wire art, I choose to make a very basic, thick frame from pallets.
And just in case no-one recognizes Mozart, I mod podged a music sheet on to the back 😉
The wire art portrait was suspended by drilling a small hole on either side of the frame and gluing that wiry Mozart inside.
By suspending the Mozart it adds a whole other dimension to the wire art. I love the shadow play in the background when the candlelight bounces off the portrait.
I do hope you found the wire art tips useful and if there’s anything you’re still not sure about, please let me know in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer you.
Pssst; if you want to try your hand at some other wire art projects, here’s a few to get you started:
- Gorgeous wire dresses
- Art Deco wire birdcage
- Writing with wire
- Creative wire picture frames
- Bicycle wheel tree of life
- Matilda the Spider’s web
- Wire Kitty Memorial
And if you enjoyed the wire art tips please don’t forget to share.
Sharing is caring 😉
And for your convenience, I’ve added some affiliate links below. Disclosure: If you click on them, we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more unique DIY and craft tutorials for you 😉
Anyways I do hope you have an amazing week filled with lots of love, creativity, and good music. And please don’t forget to see what my international friends have done with this month’s wire challenge.