I create these sculptures out of older barbed wire. Barbed wire is made of steel. The
older wire is a soft, clean steel and was not galvanized. (It is called "black"
wire.) Some of this wire is more than 40 years old. I prefer this older wire because I
know it is durable.
I use wire that already has some rust and the galvanization, it there was any, has
almost disappeared. (Galvanization is made up of Zinc and the gas released when heated it
deadly.) I choose wire that seems substantial with the rusted coating. Wire that is too
rusty is difficult to weld and would not be as durable.
As a finished coating there are two choices:
1.) No coating, leaving the wire to weather naturally, as it does on a fence.
The High Desert Museum chose not to use any coating and this piece has been in the
weather since 1988, with no evidence of deterioration. The Oregon High Desert environment
works well for the Barbed Wire.
"1867" at the US Bank, in Boise, Idaho, has also been outside, exposed to the
weather for several years, with no adverse deterioration. Some color differences have been
achieved by car & tree waxes.
2.) In 1997, I was introduced to s substance called "Rust-Be-Gone". I apply
it to the rusted surface where it combines with the rust and becomes another substance. I
then use good quality paint, for color. There will always be rust inside the sculpture
where the coating cannot reach.
I generally use this process when I create a piece where I desire colors other than
It is the twist of the wire that gives my barbed wire work its texture and life. The
"barbs" on the wire are not needed and I usually melt them down so they are no
longer protruding unless the person commissioning the work requests that they remain.
Therefore, my finished work is smooth and quite safe.
The wires are welded about 2 inches apart which makes the wire very strong. I also
incorporate a strong inside bracing when I know it might be needed. An example is the
"Great Blue Heron", on display near the green belt pathway by the Boise River in