In 2001 Sean Sobczak left Burning Man feeling inspired. He had never built a thing. “I bought a few hundred feet of wire and a few tools, went home, and began bending the wire. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was learning every day and really enjoying the process.”
His first projects were three illuminated sea horses. From there the sculptures kept getting larger until he built his 25-foot-long dragon, which has 700 “scales” and is lit with 12,000 Christmas lights.
When embarking on a project of this magnitude, Sobczak first sketches out a basic outline and writes lists of details he wants to include. He welds together the internal structure with support for armature and lighting, and makes sure that there’s a way to break it down for transportation.
The details are accomplished by working the wire with his thumbs and a pair of pliers. For a final touch, Sobczak adds lights and fabric. “This softens everything up by adding some color, and the wire work, backlit by the internal illumination, shows up as dark lines through the fabric skin.”