Article first appeared on www.equestmagazine.com in February 2007.
by M. Y. Mim (reposted with permission of the author)
The first bend makes it or breaks it.
Angela Hook, a wire wizard, creates intricate and often large-sized sculptures from one single strand of wire. The first step, and a difficult one, is to determine the length of the wire.
“First, I make sure that I have a long enough piece of wire!” explains Angela. “My work is created from a single continuous wire strand, so I usually need about 12 feet of wire to create a single horse (table-top size). I have established through trial and error how much I need for certain things. For example, I require at least 20 feet to safely create a horse with a rider.”
And then there’s the first bend. If proportioned correctly, the work flows; if not, constant rebending to correct a mistake “up the line” overworks the wire.
“The more you mess with a piece of wire,” said Angela, “The less it is willing to cooperate with you! So, rather than overworking the wire, I have trained myself to work slow and steady, and have learned to respect the natural tendencies of a roll of wire. Making the right bend the first time is far more desirable than trying to correct the direction of the wire later.
“One of the big things I had to learn was to let the wire bend the way it wanted to, if that was at all possible within my designs. Through much trial and error, I have come to develop a personal style that honors the fluid linear nature of a single strand of wire.”
The results create equine pieces that flow with vitality and energy. The medium itself grants fluidity to the horse represented. When the wire bends to create the horse bending. the material literally becomes the object, an impossibility with paint or photography. In this world, the medium is truly the message.
Angela earned her Bachelor of Design degree from Alberta College of Art and Design (Calgary, Alberta), which gave exposure to many art forms, including 2D and 3D art fundamentals. That’s when she began to explore line, volume, and various different media.
But wire only entered her life about five years ago. “I am self-taught,” said Angela. “I stumbled upon it because I had some extra wire in my collection of crafty bits. The first image to always come to my mind is a horse. I doodled horses on my notebooks all through school! So, I first tried to create a horse with wire and people liked it, so I just kept experimenting and working on my technique.
“I sold my first wire horse in August, 2002. However, it was my success at the 2003 Celebration of Western Art at the Grand National Rodeo in San Francisco, California, that really convinced me that I was on the right path. I have been a member of the Wire Sculpture International Guild for several years, and a member of the Equine Artists Guild for one year.”
As with most of the equine artists included in the ENM profiles, Angela has been horse-mad since she was a young girl, and horses are her inspiration. She talks about the “rush of excitement when a ‘horse lover’ sees my vision and can feel the energy of the horse in the wire. I am inspired by the spirit in all horses, and by moments shared between human and horse.”
Interestingly, each of the equine sculptures begins with the tail of the horse. Through a series of intricate twists and bends, she winds her way through the form. “I use round pliers for some of the tight bends, but only my fingers to guide the wire for the most part. As I near the end of a piece, I look for a place to anchor (tightly twist) the wire. For the single horses, this happens at the dock of the tail. Once the wire is secured, some final adjustments are made and the legs are positioned to delicately balance the horse. Some of my work is then electroplated to add a gold or chrome finish to the wire.
“A single table-top horse sculpture generally takes a couple of hours for me now. I have mastered many technical skills and overcome structural hurdles in the work to get to that point, although anything new usually takes longer. For instance, the barrel racer [photo shown]) is a newer piece. Trying to calculate where the wire would leave the horse and become the barrel proved to be a challenge! There is a lot of ‘planning ahead’ involved in defining complex forms in three dimensions with a continuous line. Some of my larger work with copper tubing takes five to six hours to complete a horse, as I must work very slowly in that medium so that the hollow tube does not kink.
Ms. Hook produces unusual and beautiful equine art. One might say she’s wired for it, has made a natural bend in her career, and put a whole new twist on equine art!
To learn more about Angela’s work and commission or buy a piece, visit her website.
Source: Angela Hook
About the Author: M. Y. Mim is a free-lance journalist based in Santa Barbara, Ca. She may be reached at email@example.com, or through her agent R. Almqvist, 805-705-5349. The author wishes to thank Mr. Almqvist for his assistance in making this article possible.
Copyright © 2007 All rights reserved. The above article is the property of the Author and may not be duplicated or redistributed in any way without permission.