Introduction: 7-foot-tall Woman Wire Sculpture
YuKonstruct partnered with Splintered Craft, the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, Les EssentiElles and White Ribbon Yukon to make a project for the 12 Days to End Violence Against Women campaign. Over several days we built a large sculpture with the help of many volunteers.
The sculpture depicts a woman walking forward, with the support of her community represented by glowing hands lifting her up.
The 7-foot-tall heavy metal woman was constructed by wrapping copper wire around a welded skeleton. The 50 supporting community arms were made by “casting” volunteers’ arms with clear packing tape.
YuKonstruct is the first makerspace in Canada's north. Our mission is to provide access to shared space, quality tools, available expertise, and a collaborative environment to help makers build anything!
Step 1: Materials and Design
For this project we used:
- 15 rolls of clear packing tape
- 50 lbs of copper wire, donated by Raven Recycling
- Chicken wire and tomator cages
- Steel rebar and scrap metal
- Scrap plywood and 2x4s
- Strings of outdoor mini Christmas lights (150 bulbs total)
- Wire cutters and pliers
- Staple guns and staples
- Cutting torch
- Laser cutter (for the signage on the front of the sculpture)
YuKonstruct member Chris Lloyd designed the sculpture in SketchUP before it was brought to life in the real world. SketchUp is a free program for making 3 dimensional computer drawings.
Since this was a community build with many volunteers helping, it was useful to have plan to refer to when coordinating all the different tasks.
Step 2: Tape Hands
The sculpture depicts a woman being supported by her community, represented by 50 glowing hands.
The glowing hands were made by wrapping volunteers hands in clear packing tape.
First, the arm and hand is wrapped with the sticky side of the tape facing out (so it doesn't stick to the volunteer's skin). Then additional layers of tape are added with the adhesive side facing down (so the final surface isn't sticky).
Once the hand is covered in a sturdy coat of tape, the tape is carefully cut off of the arm. After cutting a small slit down the forearm, the volunteer should be able to pull the tape off like a glove. The cut in the arm is then put back together with more tape.
The finished hands were stapled to a piece of plywood that had holes drilled in it. Mini Christmas lights were attached on the underside of the plywood so the light would shine up through the holes and into the hands, making them glow.
Step 3: Building the Skeleton
The frame for the 7-foot-tall woman was welded together from scrap pieces of metal and rebar.
Hands and feet were cut from sheet metal.
To give the illusion that the woman was being supported by the glowing hands, the feet were raised above the base with lengths of pipe. When assembled, the metal below the feet was concealed by the glowing hands.
The metal structure was secured to the plywood base.
Step 4: Wrapping Her Up
When the skeleton was complete, volunteers set to work wrapping it in wire.
Tomato cages and chicken wire were used around the torso to help build up the shape, and then layer upon layer of copper wire was added.
We started with the thickest wire and then used progressivly thinner wire to further define the shapes.
Having lots of people working with sharp wire at the same time can be dangerous, so all the volunteers wore safety glasses and some volunteers chose to wear work gloves to avoid scratching their hands.
Step 5: Installation
The finished sculpture was set up on front street in Whitehorse for the duration of the 12 Days to End Violence Against Women campaign.
The Christmas lights were plugged into an exterior outlet and, given the limited daylight in the Yukon over the winter, produced a fantastic glow.