"Blown Away" Screen Sculpture

Anyta Thomas shapes her "Blown Away" sculpture with aluminum screen wire mesh and embellishes it with paint.


Growing up in New Jersey, Anyta Thomas had dreams of a career as a mechanical engineer, but once in college she explored the arts.

Materials and Tools:

aluminum screen wire mesh
clear fishing line
1/8" thick aluminum wire (about a yard)
wire cutters
small needle-nose scissors
tweezers with a flat end
cheap writing pen
needle-nose pliers
push pins
black, blue, cinnamon and copper spray paint
2 sponges
newspaper, trashcan
Note: Because the screen wire is prickly, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves and pants or jeans.




1. Cut a 36" x 20" piece of aluminum window screen with wire cutters. Sweep the metal shavings into a trashcan.

2. Make a big fold in the center of the screen and pinch it to form a three-dimensional facial profile, starting with the nose and the forehead.



3. Add lip and chin indentations in a desired region of the face. Use your thumb and forefinger to mark a spot for the eyes. Eyes will be detailed later.



4. With the face roughed out, shape the hair by pinching and folding the screen into hair locks.



5. You are approximating how high and wide the final sculpture will be while shaping the hair.

6. Mount the screen sculpture on the wall with pushpins to get a sense of the final shape. Because the screen piece is transparent, step away, and if you are satisfied with the way it's developing remove the piece and begin the next step.

7. Cut away any extra screen from the hair area. Cut away more screen to form the neck area.



8. Begin folding 1/8- to 1/4-inch edge of the screen under with needle-nose pliers. Start shaping the neck. Note: Folding the screen will help you avoid cuts and pricks.

9. Add facial details by pressing in from the back of the piece. Use the end of the pen or the flat end of the tweezers to shape, extend and define the nose.

10. Use the end of the pen and your thumb to form the lips from the back, at the same time, using the other hand to hold the lips from the front of the piece.

11. Pinch a crease with tweezers to separate the two halves of the lips.

12. Use the tweezers to push from the back and your fingers at the front to pinch the eyelashes for the eyes. Use the back of the pliers to create eye pockets from the back side. The face is complete.



13. To add further dimension and to create a hair tendril that sweeps across the face, pull the lower left part of the screen over the cheek and attach it with a piece of fishing line tied from the back.

14. Use the pliers to fold over the edges of the screen wherever it has been cut. Even up the ends that have been folded under and cut away stray strands of metal.



15. For the frame, cut a length of aluminum wire 6 inches longer than half the perimeter of the piece to support and reinforce the shape for display. The length of the wire should be 6 inches longer than half the perimeter of the piece.

16. Create a tiny closed loop at the wire's end with pliers.



17. An inch below the loop, pinch the wire using the pliers and loosely wrap the wire around the nose of the pliers to create a loop for hanging.



18. Form the wire to the contour of the bottom of the piece by tying and knotting 6 inch pieces of fishing line along the bottom at 2-inch intervals. Be sure to keep the wire on the back of the perimeter so that it remains hidden.



19. Create a hanging ring at the neckline and at the other end of the hair. Be sure to leave an extra inch past the final ring. If the amount left over is longer than an inch, clip to an inch.

20. Wrap a tiny closed loop at the end of the wire and fasten to the piece.



21. Spray the entire Blown Away screen sculpture with black spray paint. Keep the spray about 6 inches away from the screen to prevent the holes from filling up with paint. Be sure to spray the wire, too. Check to see if any holes in the face or neck have filled in, if so, use two sponges, one in back and one in front to dab away the paint. Tip: Work in a well-ventilated area and cover the work surface with newspaper.

22. Spray sections of the hair with blue spray paint to add highlights.



23. Paint the face with cinnamon and copper spray paint. Spray across the face rather than down onto it to define the shadows.

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