Copper in the Arts

March 2010

Artterro: Handcrafted Copper Kits for Kids

By Ashley Morris

Bubble Wand Kit Arterro Bubble Wand Kit, using copper wire

Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Conn

If you want something done right, as the adage goes, you may just have to do it yourself. Especially if you're a mom and it's in the best interest of your kids.

That's what Forrest Espinoza felt obligated to do in 2006 when she created Artterro, a company that sells eco-friendly arts and crafts kits. The idea struck when she was trying to find affordable, quality arts kits for her son, and realized everything was assembled overseas, and made of plastic.

"I was excited to teach him about art, but couldn't find quality craft kits that were easy to make and affordable," says Espinoza. "I looked everywhere and discovered that there was a real need for this."

So she set to work with a mission to create beautiful, sustainably-made art kits for families and crafters of all ages. She started her company at the kitchen table, assembling eco-friendly kits under the name Artterro, meaning "art of the earth." She then partnered with Jennifer Conn, a graphic designer and fellow mom who "prettied up" the packaging. Together, they created themed kits like Creativity, Wool Felt Wearables, and Wire & Bead, using all-natural materials such as colorful, 100 percent post-consumer waste handmade paper from India and Thailand; wooden bangles, glass beads and pendants; artist-quality acrylic paint; and high-quality jewelry and copper wire.

"Instead of giving kids pipe cleaners [like many other kits out there], we gave them copper wire," says Espinoza. "It gives people a chance to learn to work with copper, because not a lot of people have experience working with it."

The Espinoza Family Fun with Arterro kits

Photograph courtesy of Jennifer Conn

The Bubble Wands kit, which is packed with marbles and copper wire, encourages crafters (ages 8 and up) to twist and bend copper wire with a marble into any shape to blow bubbles or use as garden art. The Garden Art kit then takes it a step further, with coils of thick and thin copper wire, glass beads and marbles - enough to bend into four unique pieces to decorate the garden.

"What's cool is that is you can have a 4-year-old working with our kits or a 74-year-old and they all can turn the materials into something beautiful," says Espinoza. "If kids are younger than 6, we encourage parents to sit down with their children with these kits. This generation needs to experience making things with their own hands. I want kids to have a great experience. I'd like to think that we sell an art experience, not just art."

Although the assembly and shipping of Artterro kits has outgrown Espinoza's kitchen in Wisconsin, it's still done in the U.S. by Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin - a rarity in the toy industry, where 85 percent of companies, according to Espinoza, use labor outside the U.S. As a result of the partners' diligence and design, Artterro was recognized as Best New Kid's Product by the International Art Materials Trade Association in 2008 and 2009.


Artterro, 931 E. Main ST. Suite #23, Madison, WI 53703, (608)213-0221

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