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Posted By bartsoutendijk


wire and illustrated images

JPG images of wire wall murals are very small.  That’s because the wire is usually just one color and the background is solid white.  File compression software reduces the bit count to very little.

This is a good thing if you’re sending the image to a friend who uses only dial up or mobile phone. He doesn’t have to wait a long time to see what you’re sending.

There’s a disadvantage, however, if you’re entering the image into a contest, submitting it to a gallery, or adding it to a directory that insists the image be at least a certain size.  Both images above are in JPG format, 72 pixels per inch, about 8 X 11 inches large. The drawing on the right that was suggested for a wire wall mural came to 85 kilobytes, the botanical drawing on the left was 316 kilobytes.

Posted By bartsoutendijk



Wire wall art of runners

I can make the wire wall art very large because I make it out of many smaller characters that can be hung on the wall together.

This one – called “Fun Run” – measures about 30 feet wide – depending on how far apart the characters are spaced -- and four feet high. The sculpture was developed for the Little Rock AR convention center.  It was installed at the base of an escalator to help direct visitors from the Peobody Hotel to convention center meeting rooms

Posted By bartsoutendijk

Wire art of girl on swing with duck

When I work out a template for a wire wall sculpture, I study every line and bend I will make using Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator on the computer.  I often find I make unintentional and unconscious changes when I actually bend and weld the wire, however.  When I hang the work on a wall, I often find what some artists call: “Happy accidents” that make the final product much nicer than what was planned.  It could be the wire sculpture building process, because it requires all your attention while you work with it.  It could be the wire itself.  It could be that I’m just lazy and leave out parts to get the work finished.

I made a drawing of a girl on a swing that I was going to call: “Girl swinging.”  However when I viewed the final piece, I had to call it: “girl on swing with duck.”  Much more interesting.

I don’t think the fact that is was duck hunting season and our place is next to a popular hunting club lake had anything to do with the addition, but you never know.

Posted By bartsoutendijk

nude wire wall art

Wire sculptures are installed on small loops – usually three of four per character.  Wire wall murals made for public areas like hotels, convention centers, or hospital waiting rooms may have more mounting loops to discourage vandalism. The art is mounted to the wall on wall anchors or wood screws. The loops hold the illustration about an inch away from the wall.

One of the loops is welded to the sculpture allowing the art to be balanced on a single finishing nail. The customer can hang the art this way—temporarily, to get used to it’s location – then mark the locations of all the loops and install wall anchors before permanently installing the piece.

Posted By bartsoutendijk

wire art of lady in a tub

Framed prints, photos, and oil paintings can get moldy in wet locations like shower areas, over hot tubs, and around indoor swimming pools. The mold collects behind them where the air is warm, wet, and stagnant.

Wire wall sculptures are mounted about a half inch away from the wall so air moves freely around and through the illustration. There are no spaces where mold can develop because the wire is mounted directly to the wall – not a board or canvas. The wire is powder coated with a mold resistant material.

This piece and others were purchased by an upscale resort hotel in the south of France and by five other customers because it was perfect for wet areas. One beach house owner had it powder coated with a special pigment that resisted salt spray.

Posted By bartsoutendijk


When compared to other large works of art the wire wall sculptures I create leave a very small carbon footprint.

The material I use is grade 40 recycled steel wire. The same material used to make rebar. It’s soft and bendable. It has very little carbon in it.  It is made from recycled automobiles, appliances and construction materials in low-sulfur crude-oil burning furnaces using about 60% less energy than steel made from mined iron ore.

I use very little of the recycled steel. The sculptures are mostly space. Less than 2% of most pieces is metal.

I don’t use wood. I don’t mount the sculptures on canvas or paper or plywood and they don’t require a frame.

I paint the sculptures using a powder-coating process that utilizes only the magnetized pigment that adheres to the steel.  No solvents. No wasteful over-spray. Very little pigment is used because the sculptures are made with very little metal. The pigment is UV resistant reducing the need for future repainting.

The sculptures are very light. Shipping takes less energy. Packaging is less intensive and I use only recycled corrugated cardboard that can be recycled again.


Posted By bartsoutendijk

Outdoor wire wall art


All my wire wall art is powder coated with a weather resistant finish -- like patio furniture.

 One of my works has  hung on the side of my work shop for nearly ten years --through Texas rain, sun, and a little snow. When it shows a little rust -- nothing yet -- I'll take it down and coat it again -- to hang for another ten, or tweleve, or fourteen years.


Posted By bartsoutendijk

Steve and Shelly
We often recognize people by their facial profile without be conscious of it.  Tha'ts one of the things I explore in my drawings and wire wall art.. People exclaim: "That looks just like them," not realizing that I've mearly expressed a feature that they view unconsciously.


I do it by making a very accurate drawing from one photo or a few assembled photos. Next I remove lines until I have only the essence of the image.  In this cae that was the outline of the faces and characteristic hair.


This piece was made as a wedding gift.  They loved it. The drawing was made from two photos I found of them on Facebook.  The final wire wall mural is about 40 inches tall, made of 9 gauge steel wire and powder coated gloss black.

Posted By bartsoutendijk

I use a variation of vector drawing when I do my sculptures. The technique is unlike traditional drawing methods, where the artist uses an instrument (like pen or pencil) to create the line and the image at the same time. In this process of drawing, the artist takes an already created line, then shapes it into an image by bending and twisting it. I call it Vector Drawing after the drawing process used by some computer programs.

I find that Vector Drawing uses a different set of creative abilities then traditional drawing. In traditional drawing, the artist creates a likeness of something in one or a few strokes of a pen or pencil on paper. In Vector Drawing, the artist measures out a length of wire, first. Next, he bends it into something. Then, he views it and bends again. The image is never final, like the one made of ink on paper. Even months later, after viewing it on a wall, the artist can still make minor changes by bending or twisting the wire.

Vector Drawing isn’t new, either. Art students are often assigned a wire drawing project. Alexander Calder used the technique. Computer artists use the technique. Only, they use a line created by a computer (not wire), and they change it by manipulating “handles” at each end of the line.

Because they are produced differently, the wire drawings have a different feel to them. Because they aren’t attached to paper or canvas, they can be big without costing a lot. Because they hang slightly away from the wall,

Posted By bartsoutendijk
The wire murals (larger free-hanging sculptures) are steel wire (9 gauge). I weld (braze) the pieces together with flux-coated copper you can buy at a welding supply store. The gas mixture I use for brazing copper to steel (Oxygen & Propane) makes the steel red hot, but doesn’t melt or deform it. It’s not too hot to melt the steel, yet hot enough to melt the copper. I’ve tried using arch welding, but you have to wear very dark glasses to protect your eyes and you can’t see the metal you’re welding. The mixture I use doesn’t require dark glasses. That’s important because I never clamp the material into place. I just lay something heavy on the wire to hold it there for a few moments and start brazing.
I use my hands or pliers to bend the wire. Needle nose pliers for the Models and larger pliers for the final pieces
Posted By bartsoutendijk
I use 14 gauge copper wire (bought from an electrical supply store) for the models (smaller pieces) and I solder the pieces together with rosin-core solder I buy from Radio Shack. When finished I paint the pieces with black Rust-oleum. The copper wire isn’t really very strong. It’s intended for grounding electrical fixtures and its very soft. I like it because you can bend it many more times before it breaks. Brass wire would be stronger (depending on how much Tin is in it), but you can’t bend it a lot.



Posted By bartsoutendijk
The drawings I trace with the wire are generally finalized on a computer using Adobe Photoshop. I use the pen tool to make paths and move them around until I like what I have. Then I export the paths to Adobe Illustrator and print the illustration to the size I want. That size is usually 11X17 inches (two 8-1/2X11 sheet that I tape together) for the models and 4 by 5 inches for the larger pieces (I project them on to plywood with an opaque projector and trace the image with a marker). I could start and finish my drawing using Illustrator software, but I have found the drawing tool hard to work with in illustrator. Photoshop is not as precise and that allows you to play with the image a lot more before you determine that it’s finished. Also Photoshop allows me to trace photos and drawings to use as a starting point. When I think of an image that interests me I can draw it quickly on a piece of paper, then scan the drawing with a scanner and manipulate it with Photoshop for hours until it’s exactly what I want.
I didn’t always use a computer. When I first started making drawings for sculptures, I used a drafting pen on tracing paper. I’d make a shape, then change it by tracing it a little differently on another piece of tracing paper. If I wanted to remove a line, I cut away the tracing paper that held the line with an Exacto knife. To add two partial drawings together, I used a stapler. If things got to messy, I traced the image over again. I still essentially do the same thing, today, but the computer makes it much easier.
For me, making wire sculptures is like drawing in space with a flashlight – only the light stays long after the flashlight is gone. I like that, too, because I can go back to the drawing and make changes to it or eliminate parts of it with pliers.




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