Upcycle Progress

For my upcycling project, I have planned to make a wire sculpture from upcycled copper wire. I explored several different ideas, including wire-wrap jewelry, or other wire-wrap decorations. For example, the two photos below represent the exploration phase of the project for me. I had no clear ideas in mind, and instead was just using the medium in different ways to see what I could do with it (as well as some recycled jewelry). I used insulated copper wire, which I stripped before hand, and coated copper wire. I liked the coated copper wire because of its red tint, and since I had a lot of it laying around. However, I was unsure at this point how the red color would play into the final product.

When I started to consider different options of subjects to sculpture, I knew I wanted to make it organic. In particular, a leaf or plant of some sort, was the most inspiring for me. Because of this, I decided to do a gingko leaf. I love the shape of these leaves, and I thought that they would translate beautifully to a copper wire medium. I am also inspired by these leaves, because they are often found in Japanese decorative art which I find to be very beautiful. I have been looking for a project to integrate these leaves into, so this seems like the perfect opportunity.

When I googled them, I found this sculpture below, which further inspired me.

Image result for ginkgo copper sculpture

Image 1

From this, I tried to use the materials that I had to make something similar, but in a style that I preferred. Rather than a large sculpture of loose leaves, I chose to do a branch of gingko leaves. Through a number of iterations, I landed at the style below.

I was unhappy with this result, because I didn’t like the red color, and the shape of the veins on the leaves. I wanted them to be straighter, similar to a real gingko leaf, but found that they often curved and overlapped with each other. I also found the red color to be misleading, and felt that it was harder to understand the intention of the sculpture as a result. I tried several different methods of wrapping the wire, and found that one long coated wire was very difficult to work with. Because of this, I decided to switch mediums, and went with stereo wire instead. This allowed me to use the pre-clumped wires, and fan them out, rather than using a single wire.

File:Stripped speaker wires.jpeg

Image 2

From this, I was able to create the desired shape. In order to adhere the wires to the base, I soldered them. While I had hoped to keep the sculpture purely made of copper (and copper-colored), I didn’t mind the silver color of the solder paired with the copper. Finally, I wrapped the stripped copper wire around a thicker copper base, to represent the branch.

I plan to continue this pattern to make an entire branch of leaves. These will be framed in an upcycled frame, and hung.

Featured Image

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Branden Tangney
    February 9, 2021 3:25 pm

    Hi Jillian! This is a very unique project and even taught me a bit about gingko leaves. I love the iterative approach you took at the beginning of the design and how you switched wire after constructing a bit of the project. I think the iterative approach clarifies a lot of the unanswered questions we ponder during the design phase. As for the copper wire and silver solder, I also agree that they complement one another very well. When you say this project will be framed in an Upcycle frame what exactly do you mean? What material will the picture frame be made of? I really like the project and the fact you incorporated soldering into it!

    • Thanks Branden!
      I plan to just use an old frame to mount the sculpture in! I struggled a bit when I was choosing material, but I decided to go with wood, because I liked the “upcycled” look that it had, and I thought the material went well with the subject matter. Thanks so much for your feedback!


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