Bart Soutendijk Custom wire art and steel-rod wall murals

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The Process

The murals (larger free-hanging sculptures) are steel rod (#9 gauge, about 4 mm or 5/32nd inch diameter). I use my hands and pliers to bend the wire. 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.

The drawings I use as guides 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. 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 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, change it by tracing it a little differently on another piece of tracing paper, and cut away the tracing paper that held the line.  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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