Sunday, 4 March 2012

Elephant No. 154: Hammered Wire Work

A few weeks ago at a fibre arts guild meeting, Lynda showed us some crocheted wire work that she'd done. Some of her most interesting pieces had pendants that had been crocheted then flattened with a jeweller's hammer, so that's what I thought I'd try today. Not necessarily the crochet part, but definitely the flattened wire part.

I like the immediacy of wire. There's something satisfying about twisting something into a shape and having it stay that way. I can't claim to have any skill at all as a wire artist, but a sad lack of skill has never stopped me before.

For today's elephant, I thought I'd wrap various colours of wire into some sort of elephant shape, then hammer the final piece into a pin or pendant. I have various colours of wire that I've used in the past to knit squares and crochet long beaded necklaces, but until I saw Lynda's work, I never thought of making a flattened web of the stuff.

I pulled out all the colours I had, along with some silver-plated copper wire. Most of these are 28- or 30-gauge, and most of them have some sort of ceramic coating over sterling wire. Because of the way it's made, the coloured wire isn't really made for heavy bashing with a hammer, so I decided to make the final piece a little less flat than I had originally envisaged.

I started by making a loosely shaped elephant head with the silver-coloured wire.

Next, I shaped a body and joined it to the head.

The legs were obviously a bit short, so I lengthened them with extra wire, wrapping some more wire around the body and head while I was at it. This comprised the final body, which I hammered gently before beginning to add colour.

After this, I just took various colours of wire to add a blanket, crown and necklace. I did this in a fairly unstructured style, although adding colour did require feeding the coloured wire back and forth through the "fabric" of the elephant itself. I got a bit carried away, so I forgot to photograph my progress with each colour.

I was happy with this, so I decided to hammer it flat. I didn't want to hammer it so hard that the wire deformed and the colour flaked off, but I did want it relatively flat. I also wanted to hammer it hard enough that the wires would bite into one another, and so that the metal would become somewhat stiff and hold its shape.

To achieve this, I sandwiched the piece between two sheets of facial tissue, placed it on a slab of wood, and hammered gently across the whole thing with a 16-oz. claw hammer. I hammered back and forth across the piece a few times, then flipped it over and did the same on the reverse. This gave me precisely the look and feel that I wanted: a piece that is solid and flat, without being completely mashed.

The final result has a nice silky feel to it that I really like. It's also an easy activity that took me only an hour from start to finish, which is definitely a plus. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this little guy yet, but this process was enjoyable enough that I'll definitely make more of these at some point.

Elephant Lore of the Day

In May 2007, the Hindustan Times reported on the activities of a rather unusual highwayman: a wild elephant.

In India's eastern state of Orissa, a male elephant apparently took up banditry in order to cadge food. Placing himself firmly in the middle of a highway, the elephant would refuse to let people pass until they stopped the car, rolled down the windows, and got out of the vehicle, preferably leaving the doors open as well. The elephant would then stick his trunk inside the car and sniff for food, removing any tidbits that took his fancy. One man who had two such encounters with the elephant reported that, "If you are carrying vegetables and bananas inside your vehicle, then it will gulp them and allow you to go."

If a motorist refused to roll down the windows or resisted opening the car doors, the elephant would push the vehicle and stand right in front of it until he was allowed to carry out his routine check.

According to forest officials, the elephant was simply looking for an easy source of food. More than 60% of India's 10,000 elephants live in eastern parts of the country, where deforestation and loss of habitat have forced many elephants into direct confrontation with humans. In fact, most Asian elephants now live near roads.

Local users of the highway were told not to tease or harass the elephant and, as far as is known, the elephant never became agressive or harmed anyone. The elephant was eventually relocated to an area with less tempting access to both cars and food.

Bandit elephant on rural road in Orissa.

Elephant's World (Thailand)

No comments:

Post a Comment