How to add a metal foot
to a narrow vase form


Sometimes the design of a piece demands a form that needs to stand upright but just won't do it on it's own, such as a tall narrow vase or, in my case, a wide but extremely flat vase. I had thought I made it just deep enough that it would stand on its own, but it just wasn't stable. This prompted me to consider adding other material to give it the stability it needed without detracting from the clay form.


Enter a piece of 6 gauge (6 AWG) copper wire left over from the construction of my workshop. This is used to connect a home's electric service to a stake in the ground to "ground" the electric. You can buy it at Lowe's or Home Depot by the foot for a buck or two. Copper, unlike iron/steel, will hammer form at room temperature so no special gear is needed - except a stout hammer and a hard steel surface (an old car wheel, a chunk of steel pipe, an anvil if you have one). WEAR EYE PROTECTION WHEN HAMMERING ANYTHING! 


You can just cut the wire to length and use it, but I find hammering the ends flat-ish can give a nice look at a finished effect to the ends. Once hammered, just use two stout pliers or pliers and a vice (or a pair of strong hands) to bend the wire to shape so it has both a large base shape (for stability) in the center portion and the two ends come up to hug your pottery piece securely. You can wrap the last 6-8" of each end around a vase shape like a vine or use any other inspiration you have.


In the pictures below I just used one continuous piece of wire, but copper will solder easily. You can thus cut pieces and solder them together to make more complex shapes. Stained glass makers use inexpensive solutions to add "patina" to the copper foil joining their glass art and you can use the same stuff to color your soldered copper wire construction. Popular choices are black, bronze and verdigris (green copper "rust") but there are others.



I next plan to try steel. I made a simple forge from a stack of kiln bricks and a propane blowtorch & it can head up to 3/8" steel to red hot. A black finish on that is my plan. This would be strong enough for much larger pieces, pieces where copper wire would bend under the strain.


Have fun with this idea!

Arthur Jolin