How to Make a Wire Frame to Use for Sculpting

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A wire frame for sculpting is known as an armature. The purpose of the armature is to give stability and form to the clay sculpture. It provides the framework to hold clay in precarious positions. Wire is a common material used to make an armature due to the fact that it bends easily and holds the desired shape. Other armature materials include floral wire, brass or steel rods and aluminum foil. Think of the armature as the skeleton of the sculpture.

Things You'll Need

  • Stylist
  • 8-by-16-inch pine board, 1 inch thick
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • 1 1/2-inch-long wood screws
  • Armature wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Draw a full-size outline of the desired sculpture. For example, a running human form consists of a contour drawing of the outside shape of the body from the head to the feet. This include the bends in the arms and legs to show the person is running.

  • Draw a straight line from the top of the head, stopping at the neck. Continue the line from the bottom of the neck along the spinal column. Draw a line perpendicular to the spine across the top of the hips, then down the center of each leg. Draw a line perpendicular to the top of the spine along the shoulder area, then down each arm. This is the shape of the wire armature.

  • Look at the drawing. Locate each bend in the drawn lines. Place a dot at the bends. The dots represent the bends in the wire when creating the clay armature. Place a dot in the center of the head. Examples would be at the elbows, knees, ankles and hands.

  • Center the drawing on the 8-by-16-inch, 1-inch thick board. Insert and secure a wood screw at each dot made in Step 3 approximately 3/4 inch deep.

  • Place the end of the wire at the tip of the left hand. Follow the arm up to the elbow, bending the wire as you go. Continue to the shoulder, neck and center of the head. Bend the wire in a U shape around the screw at the center of the head. Continue with the same wire back to the neck, down the spine, across to one hip, down the leg to the bottom of the foot. Bend the wire in a U shape at the foot.

  • Bring the wire back up the leg across the hips and down the opposite leg. Bend the wire in a U shape at the foot. Bring the wire back up the leg, across the hips and up the spine to the neck. Continue to the shoulder and down the arm. Cut the wire approximately 1-inch from the tip of the hand. Wind the end of the wire around the beginning of the wire to join them.

  • Remove the armature from the wooden board.

  • Cut a piece of armature wire the length of the spine. Wrap the cut piece of wire around the two wires forming the spine. This adds extra stability to the wire frame.

Tips & Warnings

  • Attach the armature to a wooden base prior to adding clay to the wire frame.

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