Creating a sculpture
(Page one of five)
The pages that follow will show the progression of the creation of a unicorn
for the
'Sculpture Show' 2006. This work being started in February 2006
and is being updated as the work progresses.

I have meant for some time now to try and show the steps involved with the
frustration and successes that each creation involves. The pictures are taken in my
place of work, namely the barn so it is full of the normal clutter of life; but it shows
the reality of how I work and conditions I work in.
The first part of the process is the desire to
create an object in the first place. Sounds
simple in application but surprisingly
difficult in reality. The influence and driving
force here was being asked to show a
unicorn at
'The Sculpture Show'. I mulled
over various poses and ended up with the
idea of producing a sculpture standing on
its hind quarters.
The tools of the trade.
The first thing is to pick up the basic tools of
my trade. One pair of pliers, these must have
smooth handles as those with rough grips
will cause blisters after only a short use;
and of course the most important thing a
pair of working hands.

The wire I start with is 3.15mm steel
galvanised fencing wire. I buy it in 25 kilo
Not forgetting a pair of hands
So armed with the tools the first bend is
made on the first length of wire. This initial
length forms the first part of making a 'tube'
which will form the trunk of the body. From
that start all can be added until the
sculpture is completed.
The first twist
The 'tube' is added to until it finally holds
together under its own structure. It is then
hung from the ceiling so work can
commence at an easy height with the
advantage that the object can be seen with
no distortions from all angles.
The tube begins to hold
The frustration here is that each addition
pulls on other wires causing them to distort
and shift position. It is a constant chase
around the forming sculpture to keep the
basic shape true.

One must remember to relax and allow a
certain amount of distortion otherwise one
will find all the work is wasted by fiddling
with the wire and not adding new pieces  to
build up the form and structural strength.
Chasing the form
Because of this sculpture needing to stand
on its own hind quarters with no additional
support a stainless steel rod of 4mm
diameter is whittled into the hind legs. This
will give it the strength needed.

As none of the sculpture is welded or
braised this reinforcement is needed, as to
build an epidermis with enough strength is
not technically possible, hence the reason
we do not get horse size beetles running
Steel rods in place
There comes a time when one stops and
reflects on the work achieved so far. This
picture shows the basic form emerging. The
hind quarters are not round enough and the
crest to high with the chest to deep.

These will all be adapted and changed over
time. It is like sketching with a pencil the
guide lines are now in place. This sculpture
has worked well to this stage, with basic
proportions in place.

The work incidentally is straight from the
mind, no pictorial aids are being used.
Time to pause and reflect
Now the work begins of shaping the body.
First indication of the head is put in place.
The four limbs begin to emerge from the

The objective is to create a representation of
the equine form and not a photographic
image. So certain parts are exaggerated
while others are decreased.

A lot of time and energy has gone into
completing the sculpture to this stage. My
tendons and joints are feeling the strain of
cutting and twisting so much wire. Wisdom
dictates a few days rest is in order. An hour
or so each day is more than enough for me
both physically and mentally.

The stage has been reached where I also
leave the work for a few days so my mind is
fresh when I return to start again. This time is
valuable for me to 'loose' the image and
open my eyes to what I have created so far.
Mistakes and problems can then be solved
with renewed energy.
Forming the body
All text and pictorial content copyright
Edward Netley 2006