My name is Jane Clift and I’m a wire sculptor. I’ve been exhibiting my sculptures for about 5 years now, mainly at art fairs and I’m always so excited when somebody wants to buy one. You never get over that, or become blase about it. I think most people can be creative with wire and end up with something they can be proud of.
This is the first blog I’ve written and I decided to do this because at all the shows I go to, I reckon there are about 5 people who ask if I run workshops on sculpting wire. I don’t. Mainly because I’m so busy making, that I genuinely don’t have time; but truthfully, a little bit of me is a bit scared of putting myself in front of a group of people. So from all these requests, I gather there’s a genuine interest in the technicalities of making a three dimensional sculpture.
What I intend to do, hopefully once a week, is to document and picture stages of making my sculptures, giving tips and information as to how I arrive at the finished product. I am very happy to answer any questions you have, indeed, I would encourage you to get in touch. I’m no expert, but I do have ideas to share and would welcome you to share your ideas too. My aim is to give you the tools to make a sculpture yourself. There’s nothing so rewarding than creating something yourself! And I hope that in 6 months time, we’ll have a community of makers exchanging ideas of what has worked and what hasn’t worked and aspirations.
At the moment, I’m working on a commission to make a small colony of herring gulls and this will be the focus of my my blog this week. . My client, who lives in Brixham, has a lovely property with a vaulted ceiling and wants them suspended in flight. Living in Dartmouth, I’m lucky enough to see loads of these, so we’ve been a a few walks this week and I’ve studied their characteristics, but the internet is such a great resource where you can access photos and videos.
If a sculpture is going to be complex, it’s often much easier if you do a quick sketch in pencil beforehand. It doesn’t have to be an amazing sketch, just a basic drawing to help you to get a more accurate vision of size and shape. I was recently working on a commission for a small fox terrier which became a nightmare! I worked all day on it, but just wasn’t happy with the way it was looking. I decided to sleep on it, couldn’t sleep, so got up, drew the dog in pencil, then continued to work through the night to get to shape in wire. It was such a relief!
You will need some wire cutters and pliers. I start with a long single piece of wire, and make a loop to start the body. For this particular sculpture I am using a 1.25 ml gauge wire as it’s going to be pretty much life size, so needs to hold the structure. The wire needs to be long enough to bring it back up a couple of times winding around the top and bottom. Bring the wire round about 4 times to make a sort of rugby ball shape . Then cut the wire at the tail end and bind tightly using pliers. You will now have the basic shape to weave the finer wire and to manipulate to the required shape.
I need to get on now as I have a deadline! But my next post will be about how I weave the finer wire to make the sculpture three dimensional.