Copper in the Arts

March 2012

Studio 78: Artistic And Functional Hand Painted Furniture Enhanced with Copper

By Nancy Ballou

studio 78 boxes Studio 78 Tune Cubes. Copper and painted wood.

Photograph courtesy of Studio 78

Always an artist, Wendy Grossman's sense of design evolved from the shapes and objects around her - forests, oceans, wisps of brush. She began as a fabric designer and potter during the same time she studied painting at the Art Institute of Boston. At the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the Pratt Institute, she taught both graduate and undergraduate levels of computer arts for ten years. Later, she was able to travel the world while she created commercial computer illustrations on her latop.

Eventually, Grossman bought a studio in the Catskill Mountains where her passion for painting on wood led her to design commissioned wall-size murals and closet doors.

"I started working with copper in 2002," she recalls. "I was making the transition from pique assitte furniture to painted furniture and it took me a few years to find my voice.I began with zinc and nickel. One was too expensive, the other too soft. Then, I tried copper and I had my medium. Today, I buy my copper wholesale because the price has doubled since I started using it. I have experimented with all sorts of methods to individualize the metal, including my own version of patinas like blue, green and red. The painted furniture is extremely enhanced by these patinas. If I use steel wool in addition to chemicals I can achieve a unique color palette."

When Grossman began adding copper to her painted wood, it took her work to another level.

"Copper made my artwork sing," she says. "It was the missing element that made my designs more contemporary and allowed them to stand out from other artists that were already painting furniture and accessories. Embossing copper to an elegant finish added the striking contrast to the painted wood."

Copper table Studio 78 Tune Table, Copper and painted wood.

Photograph courtesy of Studio 78

Local cabinet makers custom manufacture Grossman's designs. Functional furniture such as vibrant hand painted tables, clocks and lamps detailed with copper are all made from non-threatened trees and workers are hired from within her New York community. Accent pieces are made only in the United States. Her multimedia creations blend common materials and make them flow, always using wood as a canvas for her painting. She has her own unique copper embossing technique that satisfies her artistic requirements and embellishes her furniture, giving it that extra punch. She strives constantly for a spiritual and economic harmony with the environment. Her artwork is both fun and serious, reflecting her positive outlook on life.

Grossman recently attended an exhibition in Florida that showcased her work. She will be teaching classes at her studio in the spring.

Resources:

Studio 78, P.O. Box 432, Phoenicia, NY, (845) 688-9823

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