- Wire Technique
View "Justin" from
three different angles as a work in progress...
exercise in order out of chaos!
the field of contemporary wire sculpture since 1968, Elizabeth Berrien
integrates textile technique and engineering theory to create an
innovative, non-traditional medium of hand-twisted, single-strand wire
sculpture of resilient and cohesive forms.
Berrien's sculptures are personal translations of the inner essence
spirit of animals and humans; they have inspired a whole new generation
of wire sculptors. Her landmark works are in museums, galleries,
restaurants, parks, airports and private collections worldwide. In 2004
Elizabeth Berrien founded Wire Sculpture Internation, the worldwide
guild of wire sculptors.
sculptures can be distinguished by these technical
They are "cold-formed", i.e. fabricated by hand rather than welded.
There are no soldered or welded joints.
All shaping, from the sharpest bend to the subtlest curve, is performed
with the artist's own hands. Regardless of the size (from hairline thin
wires to heavy rods), Elizabeth Berrien does not use pliers for shaping
- she feels they interefere with the eye-hand-brain connection.
The medium is a hybrid of freestyle lace-making technique and
structural engineering with infusions of weaving, basketry and other
These wire sculptures are structurally interconnected with a complex
network of tightly wound twists involving 3 to 12 or more revolutions
Berrien frequently twists two wire strands of different thickness
together. Whereas it is natural for such twists to be uneven, with the
thinner strand wrapping around an unyielding thicker wire, Berrien's
two-sized twisted are blended tightly and uniformly, with the wires
flexing equally and smoothly around each other.
The engineering of this network provides the sculpture with a resilient
surface tension and overall strength of structure.
Therefore, Berrien structures are "exoskeletal" - free-formed along the
outer topological surfaces of the subject form. Most do not require an
inner armature for support.
Unlike "sprang" and other chicken-wire weaves, which have a pronounced
gap and directional reverse at the center of individual twists,
Elizabeh Berrien's twists are unbroken and uni-directional.
Whereas the constraints of sprang & chicken-wire weaves limit
the flow and spontaneity of line, Elizabeth Berrien's technique
incorporates fluidity and openness of line that follow the lines that
best define the essence and energy of her subjects.
Each intersection of two lines is firmly locked with a twist. This
process demands great care and deliberation in the shaping of the wire
and the placement of the twists - it is very difficult to rework an
area once the lines have been defined and fixed in place. Wires must be
set correctly the first time.
Esthetic placement of the wires, and the spaces they encase and
delineate, is determined in relation to all pre-existing lines and
spaces, and all lines and spaces to come. This is all done within the
artist's mind as the work progresses - there is no pre-sketching to the
Elizabeth Berrien's wire sculptures are distinctly unique. There is an
awareness of balanced tension between positive and negative space,
fluidity and motion, delicacy of line and strength of structure, each
internal abstract shape interacting with all adjacent abstract shapes
and the sculpture's overall form. All add up to a disciplined, orderly
and balanced whole, conveying an implied sense of movement, vitality
development of an intricate wire sculpture at Works in Progress
about Elizabeth Berrien' technique, which won her the Victor Jacoby Award
Berrien discusses her Creative
free online Innovative Wire Sculpture Tutorial,
selected as Creativity-Portal's "Feature of the Month" for March 2005!
Class Wire Sculpture · Elizabeth Berrien (707) 445-4931
· email firstname.lastname@example.org
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1968-2009 Elizabeth Berrien. All rights reserved. · Updated
Aug 10, 2010
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