You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.
Before we get into the juicy part, here is the backstory for anyone that hasn’t yet seen the wire tree sculpture ‘STAYING STRONG…’
This wire tree sculpture is filled with strength and detail. We live in a world that is bursting with beautiful natural beauty all around us. For most of us we walk pass trees everyday without a second thought. But for me, a tree is just like a human being. Let me explain…
It goes through so many different seasons every year and yet still stands tall and strong. Just like us.
When I was at my lowest in my life, I use to go out for walks in Sheffield parks, and always get fascinated by the trees that have been there for hundreds of years. I can remember looking up at a very bold and tall tree and saying to myself wow this tree has been through hell and back, especially with our unpredictable English weather.
Funny enough that day was raining, sunny, hailing, thundering, and the cheek of it all there was a little rainbow as well- No joke, all at the same time. And yet this tree that I was standing next to didn’t care less about what was happening. It stayed strong.
You see, if a tree can be positive and it’s just a ‘tree’ how on earth as human beings with all the resources we have believe that there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
Yes, things can turn unbearable sometimes and believe me I know, but we know that in the end things will only get better for us. And that’s why I decided to make a tree sculpture that can be seen as a reminder to keep staying strong.
Final wire tree sculpture design… not bad from an old soldering wire roll and a bit of stone 😉
Initial doodle sketch…
Right… now we are all on the same page, let me begin by saying…
I tried my best to capture as many stages as possible, but I was having too much fun and wiping my tears now and then when things didn’t go to plan… so apologies in advance.
The photos in my journal aren’t for photography purposes. I took them solely to show you my entire sculpturing process, from start to finish.
I found it challenging to take photos and draw beautiful sketches whilst I was working. It was ruining my damn groove lol. When it comes down to making its very frustrating to go in and out of the zone. Its like stopping a singer in the middle of a belter.
Although it was tricky, at the end I discovered ways to snap key moments of my full designing process. My husband bless him took a few photos of me after work (he was absolutely knackered), I created short videos then snapshot what I thought was informative and not feel embarrassed of sharing all my raw personal notes to you guys.
However, when I did complete my sculpture in the end, I had more time to focus on creating quality and detailed photographs of my final piece. You’ll see the difference yourselves and understand what I mean.
You see, things don’t always have to be ‘perfect’. The important thing is to understand what you want to achieve. You need to ask yourself, “What is the point of it all? What do I want people to take from this?” and “Is my heart completely in this?”
I didn’t hold back at all… It’s all there! The good, the bad, and the ugly.
For me, this journal is all about inspiring and teaching people.
Showing everyone that sculpturing junk isn’t just sticking bits and bobs together, it involves a lot of skill and time… And to help artists/designers avoid the mistakes I made and push themselves to do even better.
Despite all the odds that could have made me give up at any time such as not having a workshop, on a budget, limited space, and tools… I realised that with a little bit of creativity and a can-do attitude, you can also create beautiful things just like me. And if you don’t see yourself as a ‘creative person’ then at least you will be inspired.
Here’s me looking sooooo hot during the making of my wire tree sculpture. I went from collecting bits of junk to making an elegant sculpture… I tell you, It was an effortless process 😜
Drum roll please… (take notes if you want)
1. CREATE A PERSONAL BRIEF
I know that the word ‘brief’ is formal, and it’s used in the art and design industry a lot and right now you’re saying to yourself… what is Weaam on about? I thought this was supposed to be light-hearted not an art and design lecture. And it is, promise! Let me explain…
No matter what we plan to make whether it’s a sculpture, a painting or even a cake for your neighbours. We always find yourselves planning and doodling on a scrap paper before making anything.
Those doodles are our initial notes. Our raw ideas. Our solid foundation.
Everyone has different methods, but I know for a fact that too much planning can kill the magic sometimes. So, try to avoid this, because expressing real emotion comes from the heart not from a pen and paper.
I always tend to scribble what I’m going to make, what is the story behind my idea to allow me to express from the heart to connect with people, and finally what junk materials I need to collect to build my sculpture from scratch.
The whole ‘before and after pic’ that some artists create doesn’t work with me. You know what I’m on about, the fancy photos that many people do as if the process was so straightforward. Well, we all know that that’s full of BS.
I always find new fascinating junk materials every day. I can’t keep up and things always change, because junk isn’t reliable.
At some point in your making process, you will find yourself having waaaaaaaaay too much fun or crying, because something just broke. Either way, you will have your personal brief (your doodles) that you can always count on to swerve you back in the right direction.
It acts as a reminder to help you refocus and remind yourself why you are sculpturing in the first place.
Here’s my personal brief for my wire tree sculpture: Nothing complicated, just straight to the point…
When you have a plan, and know your purpose of what you want to make… Take a deep breath, believe in yourself, and just get stuck in…
2. LET YOUR IDEAS FLOW…
I go for walks nearly every day, and I see this tree more than once a week. I love it because its little details change, but its form remains the small. No matter what went on in my life at that time, this tree stood strong.
I remember one day I had a piece old scrap paper in my pocket and started quickly sketching my next idea. Many people walked through the park and don’t look twice at things. But for me this tree filled me with inspiration and excitement.
I wanted to make a wire sculpture that symbolised strength. The attitude of moving forward no matter what.
In the early stages, I didn’t invest a lot of time sketching, because I knew what I wanted to achieve. Obviously, details were designed further down the line, but the concept and form were decided instantly.
This gave me the energy to dive straight in…
3. WRAP, SNIP, AND TWIST SOME SOLDERING WIRE TOGETHER
(Come on you little #$@&%*! Don’t you start breaking in half on me…)
I wrapped some soldering wire that my husband didn’t want around an acrylic sheet. You don’t have to be specific with what you use to wrap your wire around. It can even be a book. On one side, I snipped every fold. It doesn’t matter which end to cut. As soon as I started cutting each wire things got a bit crazy. They all moved in different directions, so I hugged them closer to the sheet.
I then grabbed the bottom and slowly twisted all the wires together to create the stem. It’s up to you how far you want to twist the wires as this all comes down to your design. Bear in mind, the more you twist the longer your stem design will be, which will leave you with shorter branches.
Also, having a rigid stem can help with the making of your branch design. For control, I locked my stem into a small vice and kept twisting 5 wires together to create thin branches. Just like a thick hair plat.
I wanted the centre of my tree design to have all the wires tangled within each other. Where possible I twisted the furthest wires together to create this.
As easy as twisting wire sounds, I made a few mistakes at the beginning. I learnt to understand when to stop… twisting, tightening, and where to end the branch pattern. Some branches broke off, some were in awkward positions, and some where simply just being annoying.
After you see your tree beginning to come to life, cut the bottom of the tree in the middle to create roots as so…
(Hold tight Weaam! Don’t you let go!..)
Now your tree has form and structure put it to a side for now, because the next step is to chisel your stone base that will hold everything down.
4. CHISEL UNWANTED STONE INTO A DESIGNED TREE BASE
(Darling duck down! I’m going for it…)
I found a lovely piece of stone hiding in the corner of my parent’s garden. Mum gave me the eyes and said curiously…“whaaaaaat arrrre you thinking Weaam?” I smiled and said… “you’ll see soon mama 😁”.
I went home and started chiselling shapes that would eventually form an elegant base.
The process of making it wasn’t elegant at all. In fact, there were stones flying everywhere. The banging was so loud that I could hear it even when I was listening to drums. I’m surprised that none of my neighbours came knocking at my door. Bless them I bet they were like she’s at it again lol.
The more I chiselled the more control I had over the forms of the small stones.
By this stage I had a choice of stones to build my base with. I decided I wanted to sandwich the tree roots in between two layers of stones…
5. ASSEMBLE THE WIRE TREE AND STONE BASE TOGTHER
(You might as well put the kettle on… the glue is taking its time and I’ve just melted a branch…)
Funny enough the roots looked like a wig, which meant that the bottom of the tree fitted snugly onto the first stone base. To create movement, I then stuck small chiselled stones on top of the roots with a little bit of Araldite glue mix.
I was really happy with the results. The roots began to look like they were growing in different directions, which was cool.
Since I made the tree out of soldering wire, it meant that I could melt it and create tiny baby balls on the ends of the roots. I used the same burning technique on the ends of the branches too. So, the pattern of balls carried through the piece.
(Tip- When burning the soldering wire remember that too much heat can quickly melt a chunk off your work!)
When you’ve finally assembled your tree sculpture and added a bit of flare by carefully burning the ends of the wire…
6. DO YOUR FINAL TOUCHES
(I can’t believe how many times I’ve dusted this week…)
It’s a simple task yet many of us forget and underestimate this stage… The end of my making process, I realised that I had to do a full spring clean. Each day went by; I had to keep dusting off, and even retouching a few areas before packaging.
(Tip- when your gut feeling is telling you to call it a day… STOP AND LISTEN TO IT! Because as creators we always love to retouch endlessly and that can ruin all your hard work.)
Keep your sculpture in a safe place.
Trust me, I know this sounds like common sense, but things can hide in your sculpture without you being aware. So, before packaging make sure your attention to detail is tip top.
7. WRAP UP… BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!
Now you’ve seen my entire making process… I bet you’re surprised about how much work goes into junk sculpturing. The process thrives from creativity, technicality, design, effective skills and working from the heart.
You see, anyone can create things and learn a new skill. But what makes you different is your life experiences, your perspective of the world, and your unique character. No one is you.
I have a product design first class degree and I am a self-taught artist and yet I failed numerous times. Every day I learnt something new and every day I surprised myself. As Theodore Roosevelt said…
‘Believe you can and you’re halfway there.’
And this is true!
Making this sculpture has taught me two important values:
You must believe you can do it well before you start anything
You must believe in yourself
If you don’t. Well, all the challenges and issues you’ll face will be twice as hard. Just like life. Sure, I didn’t have a workshop, quality materials, design resources, and the list goes forever.
But why would you let negativity stop you from doing what you love, when you can deal with it with an open mind. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it in the end.
It’s going to be your story. Your achievement.
For artist/designers you’ll look back and say to yourself… ‘Yes, I designed this. Yes me. I did it’. And for art lovers you will also learn how to keep your sculpture alive by putting your own personal touch when things begin to deteriorate.
Let me tell you this, it will feel damn good, because most would have given up and miss the magic at the first hurdle. But not you.
You will see solutions, just like what I did. I’m just saying if I can do it so can you.
Be positive, be persistent, be determined. Trust me the challenges that you’ll face in your sculpturing process will feel like a problem-solving game. So, the next time you think ‘I haven’t got the right resources bla bla bla’
Well now you know that you have more than enough.
Just enjoy the making experience and remember work with whatever you have! And if you need help, I’m just a call away. If you are an artist/designer you’re probably thinking to yourself right now…
Hang on a minute, how did she end up taking quality photographs of her sculpture when she was on a budget? And for art lovers who are excited and wondering if this sculpture is for sale…
Well, all is revealed soon in my articles… and in the gallery there is a sculpture information page about ‘STAYING STRONG’ wire tree sculpture…