Do It Yourself: How To Make Wind Sculpture

Kinetic wind sculptures are captivating creations, adding excitement to any yard or garden. Tips on construction, design, and materials.

Wind sculptures add a degree of mystique to any back yard or garden. Created from various materials, they capture the imagination, stimulate conversations and are simply breathtaking to look at. Making your own kinetic wind sculpture may seem like a difficult task, but it can be as challenging or as easy as you would like to make it. Here, we will talk about different types of wind sculptures and discuss a creative project that will allow you to make one of your very own.

They dance, twist and twirl in the breeze, as if they had a life of their own. Kinetic wind sculptures have been around for many years, not only for their beauty and intrigue, but for useful purposes too. Ever stood back and watched a majestic windmill spin? Windmills operate on the same principal as the smaller wind sculptures that grace our gardens today.

If you've looked around, one thing you're sure to notice is that wind sculptures not only come in a variety of sizes, but they are also created using a plethora of materials. Ranging from the colorful canvas spinners to elegant copper or aged bronze sculptures, there is a wind sculpture for every mood, every theme and every home. Some are as simple as a flamingo with a spinning tail, where others spin in all different directions at once. They look difficult to make but, in truth, the theory behind them is quite simple.

When you decide to make a wind sculpture, the first step is to draw a rough draft on paper. This will enable you to determine what size you will need to make your sculpture and let you estimate a scale of all your parts needed. Additionally, this lets one look over the design and determine what parts should be mobile and how this is best accomplished. Be sure not to overload yourself; start simple and, remember, wind sculptures make wonderful gifts.

Once you have a rough draft, you will have to choose your materials. You will want a sturdy base pole or stand, but the material that moves will have to be lightweight and yet able to withstand the elements. Do you plan to use your wind sculpture outdoors, year-round, or is this an indoor sculpture, to be hung in a doorway? Keep in mind that woods and canvas can decay when left outdoors, and untreated metals can rust. Due to the fact that they are lightweight and more resilient, the most common materials for kinetic wind sculptures are aluminum, copper, bamboo and, occasionally, stainless steel.

One of the simplest forms of wind sculptures are bamboo twisters. Elegantly adding flair to almost any home, these are relatively inexpensive to make. The materials simply consist of several strips of bamboo (flat or round), some screw-in eye hooks, string, glue, and a strong length of wire (straightened coat hangers work wonderfully). The length of your wire should depend on how many strips of bamboo that you wish to use.

Lining up all your bamboo, side by side, ensure that they are all a uniform length. Sanding the ends can help to shorten them, as well as smoothing off any rough edges. Determining the center of the bamboo, make a mark in both top and bottom (all these dots should line up, when the bamboo are put together, so make sure they are all centered well). Taking either a small drill or using one of your hook screws, place a small hole in both the top and bottom of the center of each piece of bamboo.

Next, take a small eyehook and screw one into each end of the bamboo, along the top, and one in each end at the bottom. Using a small amount of ribbon for each, connect the top of each bamboo piece to the bottom of another, forming what looks like a miniature log bridge of bamboo. A length of wire can then be threaded through the center holes of this bridge, creating a focal point, around which, your sculpture will spin. A base will be needed at the bottom, which can be done by either folding the wire back to make a small loop or, even better, gluing a wooden bead to the bottom of the wire. Make sure that the top of the bead is sanded to a smooth finish. You want the bamboo to be able to sit lightly upon this, without risk of catching on it, thus enabling it to spin freely.

The top of your wire should extend far enough upward to make a hook that you can use to hang your wind sculpture. This bare wire can be hidden by using other wooden or colored beads, but remember to glue the one that sits closest to the bamboo to your wire, leaving just enough space for the bamboo to spin freely. All that is left is simply hanging your sculpture and waiting for the next breeze.

Wind sculptures are also excellent crafts for children. To turn a kinetic wind sculpture into a fun-for all family craft, thoroughly rinse out 2-3 empty 2 liter pop bottles (you can use clear bottles, colored bottles or you can paint on them, using paint that is designed for glass). An adult should handle the next step, cutting approximately 12 strips from the plastic bottle, lengthwise, with each strip being about ½ an inch wide and at least 10 inches long.

Taking a standard paper punch, place a hole in each end of your plastic strips. Make sure that these holes are near the ends, but not close enough to the edges that they will tear easily. The strips can now be colored or trimmed with decorative shears while parents complete the next step.

Taking a pair of pliers, carefully snip off a measure of wire, approximately 12 inches in length. At one end, you will want to bend the wire to form a small loop to provide a base and then begin threading beads onto the wire. Children love to string beads on the wire, but always be careful to supervise small children to prevent choking hazards. After putting 1-2 beads on the bottom, you will then thread the wire through one hole in the end of a piece of plastic strip. Add a bead and then take another plastic strip, threading it on over the next. Repeat this until you have used up all of the plastic strips, leaving the opposite ends of the plastic strips free.

Once you run out of plastic strips, take a moment and measure from the bottom of your wind sculpture to the top of your beads and plastic strips. When that is done, you will want to measure the same distance down, from the top of your wire, leaving an additional 2 inches, at the very top, for your hanger. This will be the point where you begin to thread the other ends of the plastic strips onto the wire and you will want to take a marker or a dab of paint and mark that point.

Alternating different colors or sizes of beads, thread them onto your wire until they reach the mark that you made on your wire. Now, taking the plastic strip that is attached to the very bottom of your sculpture, thread it up onto the wire. Alternating between beads and plastic strips, continue until you've used all of the strips up once again; each strip now being attached at both the top and the bottom of the sculpture. Add one or two more beads to the top, but be careful not to squish the plastic and beads down tightly, or your sculpture will not spin in the breeze.

Using your pliers, make another loop at the top of your sculpture that can be used to hang it up for the breeze. Attach a piece of decorative ribbon to the top of this, so that it can be hung up and feel free to add a few decorative streams of ribbon to the bottom of your art project. Arrange your plastic strips around the wire and then, using the top piece of ribbon, hang your kinetic wind sculpture where the breeze will catch it. All that's left to do is stand back and enjoy.

Kinetic wind sculptures can also be made of metal, though they do require experience in welding and soldering, in order to make a sculpture that will last. Experiment with different materials and learn how even the most mundane household articles can become breathtaking works of art. Once you've made your first kinetic wind sculpture, you're bound to want to make more.

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