Wire sculptures have been around for centuries, and if you’re thinking about jumping on the bandwagon and making your own, then you’ve come to the right place. Wire sculptures are dazzling, minimalist works of art which are great for decorating the home, and when done correctly, can really impress.
However, when it comes to making wire sculptures, it’s especially important to select the right kind of wire for the job. While this may seem like an easy task, there are a lot of factors that should influence and inform your decision.
So what is the best wire for sculptures? The best wire for sculptures generally is a higher gauge wire that is either aluminum, copper, or sterling silver. You’ll want a wire that can bend without heat but also holds its shape. It can also be a great idea to mix wires so that you can have the sturdiness and the ability to add details.
In this article we’re going to take a look at some of these factors you need to be aware of, and also assess the best wire options for making sculptures so you don’t have to. Whether it’s the gauge of the wire, the type of wire or its hardness, you need to be sure you are using wire which is best suited to the sculpture you have in mind.
The Best Wire For Sculptures: Things To Consider
Of course, the best wire for different sculptures will vary according to your budget and the size/bulk of the sculpture, but there are some general guidelines you can follow for the best results. Without further ado, let’s get stuck into the world of wire sculptures, and explore the wire options to figure out which is best for your next sculpture project.
What makes wire such a good material to work with when it comes to crafting your very own sculptures is its fine composition, and general flexibility and ability to be manipulated in a variety of ways. With wire, you can braid, you can twist and you can bend. However, this will become easier or more difficult depending on the gauge of wire you decide to use for your sculpture.
The gauge of wire refers generally to its thickness. The higher the number gauge of the wire, the thinner it will be, and the lower the number the thicker.
So for example, a 12 gauge wire will be a thick, robust wire and a 24 gauge wire will be much finer, and much more suitable for projects like making elegant jewelry pieces.
There are a few things to bear in mind when selecting which wire gauge is the best fit for your sculpture. First, consider the complexity of the project. If you’re just going to make a solid form like a circle or frame, then you’ll probably be fine, and perhaps better served by using a higher gauge wire.
However, if you’re looking to get really creative and bend the wire into a modern masterpiece, then a lower gauge wire would be more suitable.
Second, think about how much detail you want to add to the sculpture. If you aren’t looking to add features to say an animal’s face for example, then you won’t have to worry about bending the wire into shape as much, and you can get away with a higher gauge.
Opting for the higher gauge will give you a more sturdy final product, and that might be just the look you’re going for. However, in wire sculptures, to add details like eyes for example, you’re going to have to get in there with your pliers and manipulate the wire. In which case, you will probably want to work with a lower gauge wire.
Lastly, once you have mastered the basics of wire sculptures, you should consider the idea of mixing both high and low gauge wires for a more complete sculpture. Say you are making a giraffe, you can use a lower gauge wire for the body, but then capture the delicate neck and head by using a lower gauge wire. By using both together, you can achieve even greater results.
All in all, as a basic rule, if you’re just starting out you’ll want something in the middle of the road, like a 14 or 16 gauge wire. This will give you both the robust form to your sculpture, while not taking anything away from the flexibility.
Once you feel more confident, you can try to incorporate lower gauge wires, bending and twisting them for some interesting effects and details.
What should be a much easier decision to make, wire hardness is nonetheless an important factor should you wish to make a wire sculpture.
Wire hardness refers to how hard, or malleable the wire is, which will affect how easy it is to manipulate and work with.
There are three types of wire hardness:
- dead soft,
- and full-hard.
Full-hard wire is extremely rigid and hard, making it tough to bend or twist by hand. As a result, it is very durable and great at holding shape. However, with regards to making wire sculptures, unless you can heat it to the point at which you can manipulate it with tools, you might struggle to work with it,
Half-hard wire is the all-around wire. Sturdy enough to hold its shape well, but not so hard that you can’t bend or twist it if necessary. This type of wire makes a good option for wire sculptures, granting you the freedom to work it into more or less any shape you want, while not compromising the structure, this type is definitely worth considering.
The only drawback is that it might be slightly more difficult to work with than dead soft wire, so you’ll need to get your hands on some good pliers.
Lastly, dead soft wire is especially pliable and super easy to manipulate into all manners of shapes or patterns. I would recommend this for most wire sculpture projects. If you have some good tape to stick the wire together, then you are only limited by your imagination with this type of wire.
You can make everything from the extremely basic, to the advanced, and everything in between. Plus, you can bend dead soft wire easily with your hands.
The Best Types Of Wire For Sculptures
Now onto the most interesting part of the wire choosing process. I’m going to shortlist some of the best materials to use for making wire sculptures, and then outline some of the properties that make them suitable for the job.
|1.||Armature||TecUnite Armature Wire|
|2.||Copper||Artistic Wire (Copper)|
|3.||Sterling Silver||Adabele Sterling Silver Wire|
First up, let’s take a look at a wire that maybe you didn’t even know existed until today. Armature wire is a flexible type of aluminum wire which is perfect for using in wire art projects and sculptures. It is often used to create the frame of wire sculptures, as it doesn’t rust.
With a silver finish, available at very affordable prices, aluminum armature certainly provides value for money and looks the part.
After all, you want your wire sculptures to look impressive and shine like good jewelry.
However, the most important property of armature wire is its pliability. Armature wire is a soft wire, which you can find in a variety of sizes, which is incredibly easy to work with and especially good for bending and twisting into sculptures.
At the end of the day, this should be something you value highly, since you’re going to want to have a pleasant time working with the wire, and be able to do so with your hands.
This TecUnite armature wire is ideal for any wire-based art project. Coming with 2 rolls of 10m, this product is a bargain. A great option for starting out with wire sculptures, or even if you’re more experienced, I can’t recommend this wire enough.
As an additional bonus, this material is non-staining and you won’t have to worry about the color fading anytime soon.
Another great option for making sculptures is copper wire. Copper wire is extremely malleable, and as such, is easy to work with for any project. The color of this metal is appealing for a number of projects where you want a certain visual impact.
For example, trees look great with the brownish quality of copper, as well as the human body or certain animals.
What makes it one of the best options though is its flexibility. Copper wire can be easily manipulated into any shape, meaning the scope for your sculptures will be as broad as your imagination.
I like this copper wire from Artistic Wire as it is incredibly cheap, and perfect for the purpose of making sculptures. Being soft, this wire is really simple to work with, even with just your hands. On top of that, it’s non-tarnish wire, meaning it will look great for a long time, and your sculpture will retain its look.
3. Sterling silver
Sterling silver wire is a slightly more premium option that will give your sculpture that crisp finish, and make it instantly worthy of being put up on display.
There’s no denying that sometimes you need some extra sparkle and quality with your work, and there’s no better way to get that than by using some sterling silver wire.
Sterling silver is an alloy that is largely made up of silver, over 90%, with a small amount of copper mixed in. What this does is increase the durability of the wire and make sterling silver a fantastic option for use in sculpture projects.
The robust elements of copper combined with the shine and sparkle of silver is a winning combination, and should feel easier to work with than pure silver, which is more delicate.
This sterling silver wire from Adabele is a surprisingly affordable product with a lot to offer. Being hypoallergenic, you won’t have to worry about being affected by allergies when working with this wire. Plus, it is high quality, so you can be sure that you are using the best wire for your sculpting project.