A basic armature can be built out of three pieces of aluminum wire coiled together.
You will need a pair of wire cutters for this step.
To begin, you will want to straighten out the wire. Assume the height you would like the sculpture to be and divide that by three. Then cut two more pieces of the same length.
For example: if you wish your sculpture to be eight inches in height, then measure and cut a single piece of wire to be twenty four inches long. Repeat two more times for a total of three pieces of wire at twenty four inches each.
You will need two slip joint pliers for this step.
Grasp the three pieces of wire in the center. So you should have 12 inches on either side of your pliers. Next grasp the three wires with your other pliers leaving one inch from the first set of pliers. Next, twist the pliers opposite each other until you are able to coil the three pieces together tightly. If the finished sculpture is to be eight inches tall then the mid section (the coiled part of the armature) should be half that, four inches.
By using the age old method of relative proportion, it’s possible to accurately proportion a figure in the wire form. This is an important step, because it determines the final proportions executed in the round (the clay).
Because you already know the length of the back you will determine the rest of the proportions based on this area of the sculpture. The back of a horse will typically equal two head lengths. The neck is the same length of the back and from the top of the tail to its last vertebrae is usually equal in length to the head give or take a vertebrae or two. The shoulder and hip equal half the back as do the upper arm of the foreleg and the gaskin of the hind leg. The cannons equate to the length of the head. The pasturns are one third the length of the cannons and the hoof will vary in size between individuals.
The armature will require some kind of base for support. The quickest way to do this is mount the wire directly to a wooden board by drilling four holes the diameter of the wire. Place the legs on the board according to your final composition.