THE BIG WON
|Elizabeth Berrien's remarkable technique
involves interweaving single strands, using only her bare hands and a
pair of wire cutters. She has been inventing and exploring this rare
and highly complex technique, a hybrid of lace-making and structural
engineering, for over 40 years.
remarkable and rare for an untrained artist to create and explore
within an untapped
medium, evolving and refining it to museum quality standards. As one
"It's as if a musician invented a hitherto unknown instrument...
figured out how to play a few notes... then to compose complex
arrangements and symphonies to perform on that new instrument..."
The artist has received honors, acclaims and awards throughout the
including Most Innovative/Alternative Medium, worldwide, by The Big Won.
To dispel chicken wire myths, Elizabeth demonstrates often - inspiring
a whole new generation of wire sculptors. She is founder of Wire
Sculpture International, a guild whose mission is to gain greater
recognition, respect and validity for this highly diverse medium.
Spirit, work in progress
No, it's NOT chicken wire!
begin a wire sculpture, I gather all the reference images I can and
plaster the walls and floor of my studio with them. Then I start my
"pre-wiring dither" selecting the right wire, fixing a cup of coffee or
tea, putting on slippers, putting on some music, as I settle into a
meditative mood. Sometimes friends read to me as I wire. I love
audiobooks, too! Maybe a murder mystery,
or something from Terry Pratchett - anything to engage my surface mind
while my subconscious runs loose with the wire.
working on a bear, I may immerse myself in the images around me til I
forget whether I'm human or bear. I start at the animal's head,
twisting a few single strands of wire together to create a sort of
As I continue to weave in dozens or even hundreds of additional wires,
I seek out and follow the energy lines of muscle, bone and fur that
translate the bear's spirit and essence.
Often, I get a sense that the half-done sculpture is already alive,
watching me as I work and suggesting that I veer this way or that with
the wires. The feeling of communing with the animal is even stronger
when I weave from the inside of a large work; it's like looking outward
through the bear's eyes and feeling its heart beat.
For tall animals like life-size bears and giraffes, instead of climbing
a ladder I use this system: kneeling on a floor cushion, I weave up the
head and/or neck til it's too ungainly to continue as lapwork. Then I
attach it to a rope suspended by an overhead pulley and hoist it. From
then on I weave downward, while hoisting the animal ever higher.
Sometimes a half-done animal, emerging from its cloud of twisted wires,
looks so magical just as it is that I stop working on it - and leave it
as an expressive "figment".
As I create my "three-dimensional line drawings", I incorporate a
hidden, embedded structure to the sculptures, making them much more
rugged than the airiness of their lines would suggest.
The feedback I've had from people who own my sculptures has made me
aware that they seem to put out more good energy than I'm aware of
putting in. Now that I'm aware of the semi-metaphysical aspects, I try
to just let the animal's personality come through without imposing my
artistic ego into it. All my works have a basic infused intent - to
bring blessings and harmony to the people that come in contact with
creative process with Elizabeth Berrien's
Innovative Wire Sculpture Tutorial,
treasured by artists throughout the world