An alloy primarily of copper with other metals, bronze’s rich finish, strength, and flexibility have made it a sculptor’s favourite for aeons. The metal’s weight means that Emma’s bronze pieces usually have an internal steel armature, or skeleton, to support them. Over the years, the bronze will gently corrode, giving the sculpture a warm patina so that, although permanent, it will blend beautifully into natural surroundings.
Emma sources her drawn phosphor bronze wire (a copper/tin alloy with a trace of phosphorus) from Birmingham. Delivered in coils, the wire comes in different gauges – Emma favours a range from 0.65mm to 3mm. The varying gauges allow her to add shade to a piece, in much the same way she would use several grades of HB pencils when drawing. The wire is cut to length with an angle grinder, then, using her hands, pliers and mallets, Emma shapes the piece.
She starts with the heavier gauges to define the form, then adds in finer gauges for the detail. Finally Emma will ‘tighten’ the whole sculpture for a closer knit, using her hands, and pliers to nip, pinch and twist – bronze wire doesn’t have the same ‘grip’ as the natural willow.