Introduction: Wire Skier--a Suji Project
Back in 1955, the X-Acto Company--the people with the craft knives--marketed a kit of Suji Wire Art, using telephone wire to make little people and scenes. I learned to make Suji figures in 1961, and I haven't stopped. I've adapted it over the years, and I called my work Wire Tappings in the Watergate era. A lot of my friends call them Little Wire Guys.
This project is a basic body to introduce the core techniques...and it makes a fun toy or decoration!
Step 1: MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Telephone wire/Bell wire--plastic-covered copper wire, 22-guage, 24-guage, or 26-guage (The higher the number, the thinner the wire): three 18-inch pieces, one 6-inch piece
- Scissors or wire cutters
Step 2: The Skeleton
Take one of the 18-inch wires, fold it in half, and fold it in half, again. You now have something that looks like the letter W. If it looks like an M, turn it over.
Hold the bundle of wires closer to the end where the wire ends. Fold down the single wires at the top for the arms, and spread out the loops at the bottom for the legs and skis. It looks sort of like a person. This is your skeleton or armature. You will wrap wire on it to make your character.
Step 3: The Body/Arms Wire
Take one of the 18-inch wires and bend it, but not in half. Make one end two inches longer than the other.
Hang the bent wire upon the skeleton below the arms, so that all four armature wires are inside the loop.
Step 4: Let's Start Wrapping!
Starting with the SHORTER end of the wire, wrap toward the shoulders/head 7 times My mnemonic (way of remembering things) is to think "Seven-Up." Wrap firmly, evenly, and tightly. You don't want to see the skeleton wire showing between the turns. Make sure you don't overlap or go backwards, because that will make it lumpy and bumpy.
Once you have finished wrapping the first layer of the torso, loop the wrapping wire over one of the arm wires,* and wrap out the arm 15 times (I don't have a cute memory trick for the arms, just the number 15). Again, keep the wrapping tight and even to avoid gaps and bumps. The arms are the hardest part to wrap, because there is only one skeleton wire at a time. Take your time, and pay attention to how it looks.
*Why over? This is going to sound like I'm making it up, but when people try wrapping from UNDER the shoulder, they end up with gaps and twisted arms. It is NOT good.
Step 5: DON'T DO THIS!
Some people are so excited about wrapping the other arm that they take the long part of the torso& arm wire, pull it up to the shoulder, and start wrapping out the arm.
DON'T DO THAT!
It will make the torso really skinny, and look like there's a tube going from the stomach to his shoulder!
Step 6: Fatten Him Up and Arm Him Properly
This is the RIGHT way:
Take the long part of the wire and wrap toward the head AROUND the first set of torso wrapping. He won't look so skinny any more. Keep the wrapping even, without gaps and bumps. Wrap 7 times (Remember: Seven-Up).
If you wondered why one end is shorter and one is longer? Here's why...we are wrapping two layers.The second layer has to go around the skeleton core AND the first layer of wrapping, so it has to go a longer distance. Does that make sense? I hope so.
When you get to the top, go OVER the shoulder and out the OTHER arm 15 times (Remember: 15). Now, you have a torso and two arms completed.
Step 7: The Abdomen & Legs Wire
Remember that last 18-inch wire? Now you bend it, but make one end one inch longer than the other.
Hang the bent wire upon the skeleton below the body, so that all four armature wires are inside the loop.
Step 8: Wrap That Belly!...and One Leg.
Take the SHORTER end of the wire, and wrap 4 times down, toward the legs (My memory mnemonic:
Fourth Down and Goal to Go
). Remember, your abdomen is shorter than your torso.
Separate the two pairs of leg wires of the skeleton, and wrap out one leg. How many times? Which are longer, arms or legs? If you said legs, you are right! So...if the arms are 15 turns, the legs should be...20! Make sure there are no gaps or overlaps.
Step 9: Fatten Up That Tummy, And...Out the Other Leg!
Now, wrap the LONGER end of the wire 4 times toward the feet (Fourth Down and Goal to Go). Remember, you don't want a tube coming out of his stomach!
Wrap 20 times out the other leg, and we have the arms, body, and legs. Something's missing.........
Oh, yeah.....THE HEAD!
Step 10: You Want a Good Head on Those Shoulders
Get that 6-inch wire (I usually make it an orange or brown one), hold it at one end, and start wrapping up from the shoulders 7 times (The return of Seven-Up). If your head seems to be floating in space, slide it down until it makes contact with the shoulders.
Step 11: Heading In
So, you have this skinny thing sitting on the shoulder, but it doesn't look much like a head. Here's what to do...
Wrap DOWN toward the shoulders 5 times (How do you remember that? I don't know...How about...The brain recognizes five senses?). Why is it only 5 times down? You leave part of it with one wrapping layer to give your little wire guy a neck!
You have something that looks like a little wire guy.......but there are all these wire ends sticking out all over the place. What to do?
Step 12: Cut It Out!
Get those scissors, cutters, or very sharp teeth, so you can trim things to the right size.
The end wires of the wrappings can be snipped off. I save them for making accessories for other figures (swords, scarves, peg legs...).
Trim the skeleton wires of the arms, or fold them once or twice to make hands that can grasp things.
That loop on the head can be cut short, OR, if you want to hang it as an ornament or a zipper pull, you can leave it.
If this is just supposed to be a guy, trim the skeleton wires for the feet to about half an inch...BUT...if you want to make a skier, make the ends longer.
Step 13: Get Into Position
Skiers don't just stand there on their skis, so I pose them like action figures. The wire is bendable, so I flex the arms at the elbows, bend the waist, raise those knees, spread the legs, and straighten those skis.
If you make several skiers, you can race them against each other. Line them up at one end of a piece of cardboard, tilt it, and they'll slide down the slope. Will yours be the winner?
Step 14: After That....
Use your imagination!
Participated in the
Tiny Speed Challenge