Copper in the Arts

June 2012

Blazer Studios: Handmade Copper Art for the Garden

By Nancy Ballou

Copper Bowl Copper Bowl

Photograph courtesy of Debra Blazer

Debra Blazer fell in love with metal during a sculpture class where she learned how to cast bronze.

"There was something empowering about controlling the molten substance," she recalls. "What led to my interest in copper, however, is the price. As one of the most economical metals available, it is similar to silver in how it reacts, it solders nicely and the color can't be beat! I like the freedom of being able to try new things without concern of breaking the bank. I can design larger pieces out of copper than with other metals and the price makes sense for what I'm creating."

Her copper art includes, among many other pieces, round, rectangular or flower shaped custom stamped plant and herb markers with the customer's choice of plant names. Noticeable in the garden, they still allow the plant to be seen. Some with stake lengths of 5" hang on heavy gauge nickel wire to hold them securely.

Another design includes a set of eight wine connoisseur charms of solid copper and brass, a handmade brass ring and stamping on the front with names of wines selected by the client. Blazer hand raises copper bowls and often checks with local copper recycling centers and junkyards as great sources of inspiration so she can create something from what is already there by re-imagining it.

"I am working with two new fonts that I love!" she exclaims. "I actually stamp on the side of an antique metal ring mold because it has a nice flat surface to support my work. I use an old hammer that I've had for years. I cut my pieces with metal shears that were handed down to me from my grandpap. I have an inexpensive grinder that has been retrofitted to hold the 3m grinding disc I use to soften the edges of my work and the brush to give my pieces a nice satin finish. I like to use tools that have a history, whatever I can find that works for me," Blazer says.

Debra Blazer soldering Debra Blazer soldering in her studio.

Photograph courtesy of Debra Blazer

Debra received her Master in Fine Arts from Penn State, then apprenticed three years under the guidance of Sharon Teaman. She worked in the jewelry industry as a wax carver, stone setter and repair technician before forming her own company in 2006.

"Photo etching was the first class I taught after graduating. I have a couple of etched copper light switch plates that are in my Etsy shop. I never paint the metal but try to find a patina that will do the job. It has taken me years to get used to the fact that it is OK to epoxy things together now and then. In school, glue was not an option. We simply had to find other means of attachment whether it be soldering, riveting or developing a new way."

Blazer is vice president of the Florida Society of Goldsmiths which, ironically, focuses primarily on metalsmithing techniques in silver and copper. She recently returned from the prestigious Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg, FL, where she won an Award of Merit against some of the best jewelers in the country.

"We used to go to Art Festivals every weekend, but after our second son was born we had to regroup and now attend only two or three a year," she says. "My husband and I plan to become involved again when possible. You become a family with the other artists out on the road. We miss the experience."

Resources:

Blazer Studios, Palm Coast, FL, (386) 986-5365

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