Building The Armature

We will be using "hardware cloth" (often referred to as "wire") to create an "armature".

An armature is a structure often made of steel which gives sculpting mediums such as clay, concrete, wax, etc. it's shape and form. Also, in some cases such as with concrete, it's strength.

To create this and other Stone Craft eBook projects, you will need to be familiar with hardware cloth and its dangers as well as it's related parts and terms. 

 

Hardware cloth seems pretty harmless. Don't let it fool you!

 First of all, it's protected with either electro plated or hot dipped galvanize (depending on your supplier) which protects steel from rust. This is a good thing for an armature, however as you may see in some of the videos, some of the galvanize breaks free in a dust form into the air when you bend or cut it. Galvanize is known to be toxic so an inhalation mask is a good idea to protect your lungs. I always wear a quality paper mask when I am working with galvanize but it's not practical for speaking through while making videos.

 

THE ARMATURE
sculpting-armature-garden

 Also keep your hands away from your face and thoroughly wash your skin with warm soapy water when your through working with it.

When your bending and cutting hardware cloth it can be unwieldy and attack you. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes and thick gloves as well as protective clothing to protect your hands and skin from cuts.

Hardware comes rolled into a tight coil. Be careful when you open it, it is spring loaded!

HARDWARE CLOTH ANATOMY:

Hardware cloth is made up of wires welded together in horizontal and vertical runs making up a grid of squares. It is available in different sizes named according to the size of the squares in it's grid. A grid with half inch squares is called "half inch hardware cloth", an quarter inch grid is "quarter inch hardware cloth" etc.

HARDWARE CLOTH HAS ~

BARS ~ The horizontal and vertical wire runs that create the grid.

STICKERS ~ The loose ends of cut bars used for fastening or securing a hardware cloth part, to itself or to the armature.

CLEAN EDGE ~ The edge of a hardware cloth part which is cut close to a "bar" leaving no stickers. The stickers are all on the other part made by the same cut.

CUTTING HARDWARE CLOTH:

Whenever you cut a piece of hardware cloth, cut tight against a bar, this will leave stickers on one side of the cut and a clean edge on the other.

This gives you not only a clean edge from which to measure off of but also stickers on the part your making with which to fasten or secure the part to itself or to the armature.

The angled snips are ideal for cutting long runs. They keep your hands away from the sharp edges, although you still have to be careful they make real quick work of long cuts.

The side cutter is a lot more versatile than the angle snips. It’s the tool of choice for cutting parts that are already bent or assembled as well as for cutting off stickers flush to create a clean edge. It can even be used though it’s not as practical as snips, for cutting out parts.

MEASURING HARDWARE CLOTH 

Unless otherwise stated, stickers are not included in the measurement. For example, a 24" inch piece with stickers will actually be one bar width shy of 24-1/2" inches, or 24" inches plus stickers.

 

Because hardware cloth is imperfect and can only be cut in half inch increments sometimes your measurements will land in a location which is unclear of where you should cut.

Always round up to the nearest bar. If your part ends up to long you can always use your side cutters and trim off a row but it's pretty difficult to add on if it's to short. 

24" plus stickers

This is not to say that the measurements are not important or that they can just be "eyeballed", there can be many parts to a single armature and they all have to assemble properly. Be sure your part isn't supposed to be a bit long for a purpose before you trim it off.

You do however have to make the cut so make sure your tape measure is hooked on a nice clean edge, make sure it runs a straight line with the mesh squares, make sure both the wire and the tape are lying flat, round to the nearest half inch, add the stickers and snip away.

 

A felt marker works well for marking wire. You can just use your finger and follow the runs but it can confuse your eyeballs and cause mistakes.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:  WHAT WHICH WAY?

MAKING THE CONNECTION

Often times you will be asked to turn a part a certain way with the horizontal bars or the vertical bars on top.

The reason for this is, depending on which way you fold or bend the wire or its stickers, it will either strengthen or weaken the armature.

Folding the wire or stickers around the bar they are welded to rather than away from the bar they are welded to is the proper way.

Folding the wire or sticker away from the bar they are welded to will often break off the stickers or separate the bar you are bending from those it’s welded to.

The proper direction to fold the first bends or connections is not always the best because it may cause problems with later folds or connections of the same part.

Some parts have bends, folds and connections in both directions.

It can be quite confusing as well as difficult to have enough foresight on a particular part to begin your folds in the right direction.

The steps lay it out in the optimal way so all you have to do is follow the directions. Be aware though, occasionally some stickers have to be bent the wrong way for later, more important ones to be right. 

Also, sometimes stickers have to be connected under rather than over the bar they will connect to. Then the stickers bent around in the opposite direction in order for later bends, folds and connections to be made in the best possible direction. This is called a “REVERSE CONNECTION”