Elizabeth Berrien · World Class Wire Sculpture and Illustration · (707)445-4931 · RECYCLING WIRE
elizabeth berrien's bbc wire sculpture illustration wins the Clio award 2008.









Letters & Names

- Wire is GREEN!
- Recycling Wire
- Definition Wire
- History of Wire
- Wire Technique
- How to Make
- Wire safety
- Caring for Wire





Don't Toss That Wire!

Whether you're a contractor upgrading an electrical system...

a phone or cable crew pulling old cable...

an electronics firm with a batch of wire that doesn't pass quality assurance...

a rancher getting rid of rusty field fencing, chicken wire or even barbed wire...

a wire sculptor sweeping wire "scraps" into a corner...

baby giraffe, recycled electric fence wire sculpture by wire sculptor elizabeth berrien
"Baby Giraffe" by Elizabeth Berrien. Recycled electric fence wire sculpture, six feet high
Wire sculpture, an innovative form of metal art, is experiencing a groundswell of popularity among educators introducing the medium to school kids and college students. Through the process of creative problem solving, students learn to invent as they go - looping, weaving, twisting, braiding, even welding wire into interesting forms. They may create wire people, animals, flowers, aliens, spacecraft... there is no limit to the creative potential of wirework.

Grade school teachers, whose art programs are often severely under-funded, cherish recycled wire as an art material because it is cheap... often even free. However, many teachers don't know how to link up with sources of recycled wire. If they don't live near a salvage yard or recycling center, they may think they're out of luck.

This is where people with "junk wire" situations can step in. If they call the local school district and ask for a contact in the art department, they're bound to make a connection delighted to take surplus wire off their hands. Some schools have volunteers available to come pick up scrap wire - saving the original owner the bother of hauling it off and the expense of paying dump fees. Furher, it keeps a man-made material in circulation rather than contributing to land-fill.

Here's a lesson plan to Teach Innovative Wire Sculpture.

Types of Wire for Artwork

There's no limit to the types of wire that can be recycled into artwork. Old, obsolete and non-code electrical wire, telephone wire, co-ax cable, etc can be re-used by artists and art students. Copper wire can be stripped to show its original color, or left with the colored coating - for a brighter and livelier effect.

Brightly lacquered motor winding wire gives a beautiful copper sheen to wire forms.

Chicken wire and other recycled meshes can make a "skin" or shell form, which may stand bare as a wire sculpture or be coated with paper and paste, then painted as a paper mache art work.

Think creatively about all the different forms that recycled wire can come in! Twist-ties, paper clips, welding rods, wire cable, and plastic-coated wire clothesline can all be recycled into "junk art". Old hardware cloth, fireplace screens, oven and refrigerator racks, birdcage panels and other "retired" household wire utensils add interest and structure to junk sculptures.

Even electric fence wire has been made into wire sculpture!
brown pelican, recycled wire sculpture by wire sculptor elizabeth berrien
"Phone Wire Pelican" by Elizabeth Berrien. Recycled telephone wire sculpture

Wire Sculpture is Very GREEN!

Wire sculpture is about as GREEN and environmentally responsible as metal art can get. Artists who make airy, open-work wire sculptures from copper, aluminum or steel wire consume less than 1% of the materials of solid metal art, creating substantial works of art from tiny amounts of wire!

Openwork Wire Sculpture= 99% AIR

When wire sculptures are fabricated via "cold-formed" techniques, with all joinery performed by hand, the wire art becomes even greener - since welding equipment is not involved, no harmful chemical emissions are released.

Other Ways to Recycle Wire

Used field fencing, chain link fence, chicken wire and other mesh-type wire will be welcomed with open arms by animal rescue groups and wildlife care centers for making kennels, cages and aviaries. Schools use all kinds of fencing for vegetable garden projects... even to screen compost! Rural families and small farmers always need short scraps of fencing to protect shrubs and small trees from being chomped on by deer...

Remember the old adage about "You can fix most anything on earth with duct tape and baling (bailing) wire"? It's true - a half-roll of tie wire will take care of several years' worth of quick fixes.

What About Rust?

Way too much steel wire gets tossed for looking rusty... even though a light coat of rust does not decrease the strength, structural integrity, or lasting power of the wire to any major degree.

People throw away rusty wire because of two major myths:

WIRE MYTH #1: Once wire starts rusting, it never stops til it rusts all the way through.

Truth: When exposed to moisture, steel and iron wire will oxidize (rust), causing the surface to become brittle and friable. Since it has a smaller cross-section, thinner wire will rust through faster than thick wire, which may take decades to become tangibly weakened by rust.

Many artists and sculptors like the natural patina of rust, and choose to leave their recycled wire and metal sculptures "raw".

For people who want to stop the rust process in its tracks, a special primer called Rust Destroyer can be sprayed right on top rust, sealing and stopping the rust process. The product comes with a 5-year warranty, and is used on everything from tricycles to bridges and battleships.
WIRE MYTH #2: You can get tetanus off ALL rusty wire.

Truth: Tetanus has to come from somewhere - usually an outdoor, animal-related source. A store-bought roll kept on an indoor shelf can't magically acquire tetanus a a part of the rust process, which is merely oxidation.

Tetanus is normally contracted via a puncture wound rather than casual contact with the skin surface. Still... it's a good idea to maintain your tetanus booster shots, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Otherwise, a puncture wound will indicate a trip to the doctor for a tetanus shot. Tetanus boosters used to be required every single year. Nowadays, doctors recommend anywhere from every 7 to 17 years.

Some folks question whether tetanus boosters (and other vaccinations) are needed so frequently. To find out what the medical profession will be recommending for humans in 10 years, ask your veterinarians what they're recommending nowadays for vaccinating your animals...
antelope woman, recycled wire sculpture by wire sculptor elizabeth berrien

"Antelope Woman" by Elizabeth Berrien. Recycled wire sculpture, blue ribbon award

More Creative Uses for Recycled Wire

Wrap some copper wire in a spiral around a marble or glass ball... and you've got an indoor/outdoor ornament! Link a few wire & marble ornaments, balance them with stiff horizontal wires... and you've got a mobile! Wrap some chicken wire or field fencing around a shaggy, unkempt shrub, smoosh it into an interesting shape... trim away the parts you don't want.. and you've got a topiary!

It's all a matter of looking at the world around you with new eyes... Now go out there and start recycling wire!
World Class Wire Sculpture · Elizabeth Berrien (707) 445-4931 · email wireladye@yahoo.com

Content and images © 1968-2009 Elizabeth Berrien. All rights reserved. · Updated Oct 22, 2009 · this page valid HTML 4.01

elizabeth berrien's bbc cables wire sculpture illustration wins the BIG WON award for #1 Innovative and Alternative 2008.
#1 Worldwide
#3 Poster Campaign
#10 All Media
elizabeth berrien's bbc cables wire sculpture illustration wins the Clio award 2008.
CLIO 2008
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins two coveted cannes gold lions in 2008.
Cannes Festival
Double Gold
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins two coveted ADC gold cubes in 2008
Double Gold
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins the coveted Obie Best of Show award 2008.
Best of Show
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins two coveted Andy gold awards 2008.
Andy Double Gold
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins one show gold pencil awards 2008.
One Show Gold Pencil
elizabeth berrien's wire sculpture illustration wins double grand awards at London International Awards2008.
London International
Double Grand