Copper in the Arts

November 2010

Copperista: Uniquely Handcrafted Copper Creations from Amy Volchok

By Nancy Ballou

Flower Keeper Mini Flower Keeper

Photograph courtesy of Copperista

Though she admits that she attended two art schools in Boston and didn't graduate from either, self-taught artist Amy Volchok says she has been an artist all of her life.

"I don't remember a time when I wasn't an artist," says Volchok. "I created and sold papier-mâché pieces and handmade greeting cards before I started working with metals. I still make quilts, paint furniture and do lots of other projects. I love to research and learn new things."

After being employed for years in the graphic arts where she learned typesetting and logo designing, Volchok set up a studio at her own house in Montvale, New Jersey, so she could design sterling silver jewelry. Since her workshop was actually a small converted sun porch with windows on three sides, it provided great light for creation of her worded cuff bracelets, which she then sold on her site, Aquabeet.

Approximately two years ago, Volchok felt the jewelry market was becoming saturated and started thinking of other things to construct. She began experimenting with some copper she had planned to use for jewelry.

"I quickly discovered that copper is just the most wonderful material!," says Volchok. "It is soft and can take on the most amazing patinas. It's also fairly inexpensive. Much of the copper we buy today has been recycled and can be recycled again no matter how old it becomes. I take my very few scraps to our local recycling center. I'd say my main frustration is locating a reliable source of the 28-gauge copper that I use for some items. When I was thinking up a name for my shop, Copperista just popped into my head and I loved it," Volchok confides.

Copper Gems Frame No. 10

Copper Gems Frame No. 10

Photograph courtesy of Copperista

With people asking if she made copper picture frames and, recognizing the scarcity of handcrafted gifts for males, Volchok studied the various ways pictures got inserted. She came up with her own system, which involved cutting the glass (as she does for her copper framed mirrors) and creating a pocket for the photos. She also designed copper business card holders.Both items serve as great father, brother, son, husband, guy co-worker gifts.

Volchok soon discovered that working with copper was similar to working with silver, but better. In 2008, she even developed a signature patina treatment.

"The application of heat to achieve the patina is the most fun part," says Volchok. "The fun is in the randomness. There isn't much control and you can never exactly duplicate an effect that you like. I love this variable since no two pieces are the same."

Her process utilizes cut copper sheets and wires. Patinas are applied to squares of copper that are riveted to the frame by forcing wires into holes that have been drilled in the metal. These are then hammered flat until they look like nails. To assemble the copper flower keepers, wires are wrapped horizontally and pulled tight. When no solder or glue is used,the construction is called cold connection.

Wording, names or dates are applied through use of metal stamps to customize and/or personalize any of Volchok's designs, especially keychains and an array of copper ornaments. Picture and mirror frames canbe formed into hearts or other shapes.

Examples of her artwork can be viewed at her Copperista and Aquabeet shops on Etsy. Various items are also displayed in stores and shows such as The Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, Guilford Arts Center in Guilford, Connecticut, and Craft Company #6 in Rochester, NY.

Resources:

Amy Volchok, Montvale, NJ, (201) 573-1981

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