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Art you can really get hung up on
September 24, 2008 10:59 PM   Subscribe

So, as a fashionista or due to your upbringing, you don't want to use wire coat hangers. Yet they keep accumulating in your closet. And perhaps you don't have a thrift shop or dry cleaner in your vicinity that will accept them. You can only use so many weenie roasters and dowsing rods, and your old talent for unlocking car doors is useless on modern locks. What to do? Well, some people improve/camouflage their hangers by covering them with braided strips of plastic bags, fabric, or yarn. But there are other, non-clothes hanging, uses for wire hangers. At the simplest end of the spectrum, you could make a toilet paper holder, or wool sock blockers. You could use the wire as a frame for decorative wreaths (or a wreath for your stitch and bitch party), or little Christmas trees or a Christmas card display rack. You could make a light fixture, or a chandelier. If you have a surplus of plastic hangers, they can become a light fixture too. Or you could make a chair. If you're feeling especially artistic, or just want something to fill in a blank space on the wall, you might follow the lead of artist Lawrence L'Hote, or of artist Philippa King, and make, say, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth, or a sculpture based on a Picasso sketch. And if you're really enthusiastic about the possibilities of wire hangers, try your hand at making a gorilla, a spaceman, or a hooker like artist David Mach. Just please be particularly careful not to put an eye out, since that's not an improvement on mashed clothing.
posted by orange swan (34 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This post is well hung!
posted by crossoverman at 11:12 PM on September 24, 2008


You can use a coat hanger to put a massive paragraph in the (more inside) section of a MetaFilter post.


nice post btw.
posted by clearly at 11:19 PM on September 24, 2008


But there are other, non-clothes hanging, uses for wire hangers.

I used to use them to open car doors, but in those days things were different.
posted by pracowity at 11:37 PM on September 24, 2008


I've seen the spaceman before in a gallery. You know how the footage of astronauts walking on the moon is grainy and fuzzy? The hangers give it that fuzzy look, only in real life. Definitely one of my favorite pieces that I've ever seen.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:42 PM on September 24, 2008


But wait, there's more! For the same low cost, you also get: magazine rack, microphone stand, Christmas tree, slingshot, whale mobile, panty hose sculpture, fairy wings, yarn dog, and more, more , more, more, more, and more!

But the real question: how do you make a wire clothes hanger in the first place?
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:54 PM on September 24, 2008


Weird - I just today replaced part of a lamp shade that my cleaning fairy (for some reason) threw out by unbending and rebending a wire coat hanger. Stop following me orange swan!
posted by nicwolff at 11:56 PM on September 24, 2008


Of course, "getting the screen back into the glass can be tricky but is facilitated by working at it from both sides with a coat hanger and a pen or a poker."

Hey! That's just what I heard.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:04 AM on September 25, 2008


For crafts that need stiffer wire than coat hanger wire, use TIG welding rod. I used to make lamp shades with the stuff.

You can get TIG welding rod in stainless, as well. I welded a short section of 1/4" stainless rod to a longer section of 1/8" stainless TIG rod to create a coffee-stirrer.

If you want really stiff wire, use piano wire. Some lock picks can be made with piano wire.

Among welders, it's more or less a joke or urban legend about the guy too clueless to use proper filler rod for oxy-acetylene welding, and instead uses coat hanger wire. I can personally attest that I have seen someone gas welding with coat hanger wire...

While not as stiff as coat hanger wire, copper wire is much easier to bend, and is available in more thicknesses, and so may be a better choice for certain crafts.
posted by Tube at 12:10 AM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is an abortion joke considered bad taste? Because there shoulda been one by now..
posted by mediocre at 1:02 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I use small lengths of metal hangers to clear the shaft of the bowl of my bong. God made it fit so right that I almost believed there was no other use for them. Fashionista or not, they suck for hanging up clothing.
posted by sunshinesky at 1:50 AM on September 25, 2008


What!?! no mention of a car radio antenna? Traditionally in the shape of Australia.
posted by bystander at 3:48 AM on September 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


For crafts that need stiffer wire than coat hanger wire, use TIG welding rod.

Where could I get this? I've tried making wire puzzles out of coat hangers, but it's just a touch too floppy.
posted by DU at 4:38 AM on September 25, 2008


I use my extra wire coathangers to make HDTV Antennas
posted by tke248 at 5:36 AM on September 25, 2008


It's not creative, but I just return them at the cleaners to be reused.
posted by exogenous at 5:46 AM on September 25, 2008


For crafts that need stiffer wire than coat hanger wire, use TIG welding rod.

Where could I get this? I've tried making wire puzzles out of coat hangers, but it's just a touch too floppy.


That would be your local welding supply store. "TIG" is an acronym for "Tungsten Inert Gas", but everyone refers to it as "TIG". It's also called "filler rod".

I forgot to add that it also has the advantage of being straight, right out of the box. It's usually sold in lengths about 3 feet long. A coat hanger is only straight for about 12".

TIG rod is usually sold in 1/16", 3/32", and sometimes in 1/8" thicknesses. The mild steel version is covered with a thin layer of copper, which can be taken off with sandpaper if you want.

If I was going to start doing a human pincushion act, I'd pick 316L stainless...

Some sword swallowers start off with bent coat hangers before moving on to real swords. (No, I'm not kidding).
posted by Tube at 5:46 AM on September 25, 2008


Is an abortion joke considered bad taste? Because there shoulda been one by now..

None of that, please. I ran into far too much abortion-related material while researching this post.
posted by orange swan at 5:50 AM on September 25, 2008


Love. The. Gorilla.
posted by Shebear at 6:19 AM on September 25, 2008


Our plumber earned our everlasting gratitude (and business) by telling us to just use a wire coat hanger to clear out the clog in our basement drain that was backing up. Worked like a charm!
posted by JoanArkham at 6:36 AM on September 25, 2008


I am astonished by the perfection of the timing...(a few hours ago, I was getting on the Mister's case about the sheer volume of wire hangers his dry cleaned shirts bring into the homestead, monthly...)...the wealth of information, and inspiration in this post.

Thank you!
posted by squasha at 6:49 AM on September 25, 2008


Given enough soap solution (ideally thickened with glycerin), you can dip wire hangers and blow bubbles. If you have some pliers, you can also bend the hangers into various shapes and explore the resulting soap films. (Example: cube.)

I arranged this as an activity for some students once, following a talk on minimal surfaces -- the surfaces of least area clinging to a frame. Surface tension causes soap films to naturally converge to these forms... hmm, I sense a MetaFilter post in the works...
posted by aws17576 at 7:04 AM on September 25, 2008


I've got to be the only person in the universe who's never owned a wire coat hanger...
posted by xbonesgt at 7:37 AM on September 25, 2008


I actually hang my clothes on the metal hangers when I give them to the dry cleaner to be cleaned. I'm crossing my fingers they don't just go in the trash at the store.
posted by ben242 at 7:44 AM on September 25, 2008


I'd like to know where all the wire hangers in house came from in the first place. I can't recall ever buying wire hangers, and I'm not in the habit of taking stuff to the dry cleaner. Yet, my closets are choked full of wire hangers...all impossibly entwined around each other. wtf?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:12 AM on September 25, 2008


Elwood Blues made toast with one!
posted by Aversion Therapy at 9:24 AM on September 25, 2008


I think they breed in there, Thorzdad. That's what they're doing when they get all entwined.

The condo I used to own came with hangers — the former owners a number of them behind when they moved out. I stuck them in my guest room closet. When I was packing up to move out, my mother, who was helping me, came across them. She came out of the guest room brandishing about 50 hangers and said, "I thought I taught you NOT to use wire hangers!!"

I said, meekly yet sardonically, "Yes, Mommie Dearest."

She didn't like that at all, but I haven't heard another word about wire hangers.
posted by orange swan at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2008


"I never laid a hand on those kids!"
posted by hortense at 9:50 AM on September 25, 2008


When I was a kid, I was told that socks lost in the dryer turn into wire coat hangers; socks are their larval form.
posted by mosk at 10:17 AM on September 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


No need to get rid of them. Just wait for them to metamorphose into bicycles.
posted by lodurr at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2008


Fun post, thanks orange swan.

Origin of the wire hanger.

Octopus drying
, Indonesia
posted by nickyskye at 11:38 AM on September 25, 2008


ooh, neat hanger sculpture, geometric.
posted by nickyskye at 11:41 AM on September 25, 2008


Sock blocker?
Does that interfere with you getting some sheep?
posted by coachfortner at 12:02 PM on September 25, 2008


My dry cleaner has a rack next to the door. It is always filled - hangers flat, hook with open end to left - and the hangers are probably re-used. If your dry cleaner doesn't have one, ask why not. The one in mine looks like it's purchased from a dry cleaning suppliers' catalog.
posted by Wheatland at 3:42 PM on September 25, 2008


I made a salt lick holder...







...for my bed.
Not sure what I though was so cool about putting a salt lick on my headboard, but I distinctly remember that I thought I was cool for doing so. Pictures from that time (mid-20s) show me drinking coffee from an Florence flask.
posted by planetkyoto at 8:18 PM on September 25, 2008


Tube writes "Among welders, it's more or less a joke or urban legend about the guy too clueless to use proper filler rod for oxy-acetylene welding, and instead uses coat hanger wire. I can personally attest that I have seen someone gas welding with coat hanger wire..."

I've done this quite a bit as I've always had an oxy-acetylene rig for brazing repairs on porcelain tubs but have had occasionally need to weld something up. Always seemed to come up on Xmas eve or 160 miles off the beaten path making a run to supply unthinkable.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 PM on September 25, 2008


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