Now, there is a safer, more pleasant alternative: picture wire that has a smooth plastic coating. No question, it's much kinder to human flesh. But it comes with a higher price tag, and it can be hard to find, as not all stores stock it.
|This wire from a home improvement store is a good substitute for picture wire.|
Is there a substitute for or alternative to picture wire? Unless I'm hanging mirrors or large, heavy paintings that call for wire that's rated according to weight, I've found that coated wire sold in the electrical department at home improvement and hardware stores works just fine. It's just as easy to handle as coated picture wire and is equally malleable, but costs far less. I can buy as much or as little as I need because it's sold by the foot.
The coated wire shown above, which I purchased at Home Depot, was approximately $2 for a 10 foot length. Look closely and you'll see that this wire is actually TWO strands very loosely twisted together, in effect, giving me 20 feet of wire! The gentleman who waited on me called it "doorbell wire," and I have found it to be perfect for use on smaller, lightweight canvases and wood panels. The strands are readily separated; I use metal snips to cut off whatever I need.
This particular wire is 18 gauge with a copper core, but there are many other sizes and types of wire to choose from. I told the store associate what I planned to use the wire for, and he made recommendations based on the information I provided. He turned out to be quite familiar with artists' needs because his wife is an artist who sells her work at festivals, and to hang it she, too, uses wire from the electrical department rather than picture wire.
Please note: as I've already stated, if the object to be hung is very heavy or fragile, I would instead use a picture wire that's rated for the object's weight. In other words, I would NOT hang anything under glass in a big heavy frame with anything BUT the appropriate picture wire. But lightweight stretched canvas or smaller cradle wood panels? Trusty, thrifty "doorbell wire" is always at the ready!
Text and image ©2016 Lynn Edwards