Tips for Making Wire Sculptures

Wire Sculptures

Wire sculptures, including wire jewelry, are more popular than ever today. For many years the art of working with wire diminished and almost died out entirely but now it’s back with a vengeance. Wire wrapped jewelry is a huge seller in the indie/craft market and more people than ever are taking up wire sculpting as a hobby and as a profession. 

One of the disadvantages of wire sculpture being unpopular for so long is that there is a lack of qualified artists to teach newcomers how to safely work with wire. Whether you are building a huge sculpture or wire wrapping fine jewels to wear working with strands of wire can be dangerous and can cause serious injury. Sometimes strands of wire can even cause permanent injury. If a thin filament of wire pokes through the vent holes in your safety glasses you could be permanently blinded. 

Many people today that work with wire for sculpting are self taught, so here are some safety tips gathered from some great wire sculptors to help you stay safe when you experiment with wire sculpture: 

Use short wires at first

Until you get the hang of working with metal use short pieces of metal, about the size of pipe cleaners. When you start throwing around five or six feet long pieces of metal you could seriously hurt yourself or someone else. Keep the pieces that you’re working with short and your wire sculpts small until you are comfortable working with wire. 

Keep your elbows angled

The bigger the open angle of your elbows is the further the wire work will be from your eyes. You want the work to be as far from your eyes as possible to reduce the risk of getting a wire in the eye. Make sure that you keep the correct open posture when you’re working on a wire sculpture. 

Watch out for carpal tunnel

Working with wire and wire tools can be more damaging to your hand than sitting at a computer for hours without a break. The rough metal and the pressure needed to cut it can really hurt your wrists and hands.  

To protect yourself against carpal tunnel syndrome take frequent breaks to rest your hands. Try applying heat to your hands and wrists after a long session of wire sculpting and only work on your sculpt for an hour or two at a time until you are stronger. You can also try wearing wrist splints if you feel like you need some extra protection. 

Toughen your hands

It doesn’t work for everyone, but some sculptors swear that treating your hands with a tincture of Myrrh available at most co-ops or natural food stores will almost instantly toughen your hands and fingers so that they don’t get red, blistered and painful when you’re working with wire.

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