Sunday, June 1, 2008

How To Choose Tools Needed For Wire Scultping

Wire sculpture is a simple, yet fun hobby. it creates little mess and needs very little room. The necessary materials are cheap and can be obtained at most any hardware or home improvement store. The resulting sculpture can be displayed in many different ways and can be modified over time to fit the artist’s whim. The following is a list and description of all the tools you'll need to get started in your new hobby.

Wire Sculpting Tools

Flush Cutters- Flush Cutters are a small and very sharp set of shears designed to cut cleanly and neatly through most kinds of wire. The sculptor will be using them often, so they should be sharpened often with a few strokes of the Needle File featured further on. Shears such as these are normally very affordable regardless of how well designed they are, so getting a pair with foam grips and compound lever action to reduce the amount of force needed to cut is a must.

Flat Nose Pliers- Flat nose pliers are used in lots of different professions, particularly with electricians. In Wire Sculpting they work well at bending thicker gauge wires and can be used to form wires into right angles. This is a particularly difficult thing to do as wire tends to curve in multiple areas like a "U" shape rather than bend at a single point like the angle of an "L". They come with many different grips and other features and some are quite cheap. However, I would suggest a pair with ergonomic foam grips and a locking function because the hobby ceases to be fun once your hand starts to cramp.

Chain Nose Pliers- Chain Nose Pliers are principally used by jewelers for forming the metal chains of bracelets, necklaces, and lockets. With these the narrower the tip is, the better. They come in both bent and straight nose variations. The bent nose is preferable because they put less strain on the wrist. Chain Nose Pliers are difficult to find unless you know of a store that sold materials for jewelers, so online purchasing is probably the only option.

Round Nose Pliers- Round nose pliers are useful for bending loops and radius bends in wire. They come in double jaw, single jaw nesting and step jaw. Double jaw pliers have always been the most popular because they are readily available. Single jaw nesting pliers are easier to use for many types of bends because of the concave or nesting lower jaw which helps hold the wire during the bending. Step jaw pliers feature three different diameter steps which are useful for many types of bends. Amateurs who don’t want to invest too much should choose the step jaw pliers. Someone who is deeply involved in wire sculpture should have one of each.

Polishing Cloth- Polishing cloths are used to work off any smudges, light scratches, or patinas that may have formed while you where forming your sculpture. They come in many gradients; from rough to jeweler's cloth fine. Any cheap rag, old shirt, or towel will do for a rough cloth. A fine cloth can be purchased at any sunglass or jeweler’s kiosk in most shopping centers. They can also be found sometimes in your local supermarket. Any clean cloth with no chemicals and a high thread count will do.

Quick Clamp- The Quick Clamp will prove invaluable shortly after your first attempt at wire sculpture. Your hands will thank you. With a Quick Clamp you will be able to firmly hold onto even the smallest length of wire while twisting or bending it. It provides much better leverage and grip than if you were to try holding onto the wire with gloves or your bare hands. In order to avoid damaging or flattening the wire you're working on, go with any clamp that has softened vice grips. Something using soft rubber or plastic is best.

Needle File- The Needle File is used to file away the burrs and jagged edges that result from clipping wire. Some also use it to flatten or shine certain spots of their wire sculpture to unconsciously draw the eye. For the starting individual the half-round file is best. It's got a flat edge on one side and rounded edge on the other, allowing the hobbyist to flatten or curve surfaces as he/she wishes. A diamond file will last much longer and provide smoother results than those made from plain steel, so the investment of a few extra dollars is worth it.

Tips & Warnings
Art is defined by the beholder, pay no mind of what other people think of your work. As long as you like it, it’s beautiful. Though some wire sculptors have used have used gold and silver wire in their work, plain copper, aluminum, or steel wiring is best to start out with. Wetting copper wire after its been sculpted speeds the oxidization process and can change the finish of your work radically. Try incorporating other pieces of decoration in your work, like bits of chain, tile, or bead to make a three dimensional collage.

Be very careful not to touch your face after using the file, metal filings can pierce the mucous membrane and result in an emergency room visit. Don't allow yourself to be distracted while using the flush cutters. Your fingers are much softer than wire and can be cut through much more easily.

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