Art – Pantyhose – Wire Sculpture

One dad thought these were spoons wrapped in a plastic bag.  I guess we fooled him!

One dad thought these were spoons wrapped in a plastic bag. I guess we fooled him!

Now that we’re into the second semester (already!), Most of the art projects will be scultpure.  I found this great idea through Pinterest, and then I adjusted it to work for me.

**Updated Edit (2/20/18):  A lot of people have come forward to give many different dates of when this style of art came about.  No one really knows, at this point, and that’s ok!  The point is the kids are learning, engaged, and inspired.  One of these days, the originator of this technique will be found!

I used 16-gage wire, and gave each child about 4-5 feet of it.  One of the parents donated the wood blocks (4×4), and drilled two holes in them (about 1-inch from the edge) that the wire would tightly fit into. I told the kids to push an end of the wire into a hole of the block.  Once they had about 3-inches coming out the other side, they were to take their needle-nose pliers and make a loop.  Then they were to lay the loop as flush as possible against the block.  They did the same thing to the other end of the wire.

After they got the wire put through the block, I had them gently bend and twist the wire to get it into a smaller shape.  Then I gave each kid a knee-high nylon stocking (Walmart has them in the lingerie department at 2 for .33), and had them put the hose on over the wire structure.  Before they did this, though, I showed them how to bunch up the hose gently, so it wouldn’t snag on rough skin or nails.  The boys had a particularly good time being goofy with this.  They covered not only the wire, but also the block. Once this was done, I told them to re-shape it however they wanted – just as long as there weren’t any sharp or pointed edges.

When they were satisfied with the shape, I gave each of them a pot of home-made gesso (3 large bottles of white acrylic paint mixed with 1/2 gallon of white glue), and instructed them to cover it completely (including the base), paying heed not to leave any holes.  That was Day 1.  On Day 2, I had them coat their sculpture once again.  It was a much faster class.  Duh!

On the third day, The sculptures were nice and dry, so we talked about how the pieces had ‘movement,’ and when they painted them, they didn’t want to go against this.  I told them to follow the wire, which was the natural shape and flow.  Some kids ‘got’ this, and some did not.  That’s ok, though – as long as THEY like it.  On Day 4, the kids completed painting them, and they did a great job!

For the last day, they sprayed a clear coat sealer on it, and that gave it a beautiful, glossy look.  When that was dry, they turned their sculptures over and clipped the pantyhose to get rid of the bulk.  They also cut the wire loops off.  Once the metal was flush with the wooden base, they placed a piece of felt over it to finish it off.  They’re all so proud of what they did – and I am, too!  The debriefing portion of this project was one of the best parts.  I swear I love these kids.

This is the above sculpture completed!

This is the above sculpture completed!


8 responses »

    • Hi There, as is usual in art where an idea begins is always blurry but I can tell you I did the same projcet (bent coat hangers and tights) while at school in 1978/1979 – I think my teacher was inspired by Eve hesse.

    • The technique is older than 2009. One unquestionable example: it’s published in a book from 2008. “Art Is Fundamental: Teaching the Elements and Principles of Art in Elementary School”

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