Copper in the Arts

March 2013

Leslie Neidig Designs: Folding Copper Into Unique Jewelry

By Nancy Ballou

bracelet Copper fold-formed bracelet.

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Neidig.
When fold forming copper artist Leslie Neidig first began make her art, she never imagined her love of jewelry design would grow into such a thriving business.  "I started making jewelry as gifts,” she recalls. “Eventually, people started asking me to create things for them. They were my inspiration. It snowballed into a small business."

Today, she produces her eclectic, nature-inspired handmade copper jewelry for clients and customers of all sizes out of her downtown Louisville, KY studio in the city’s thriving NuLu district. 

"Currently, copper is my favorite medium to work with,” she says. “I love the way the flame of the torch brings out the color. I get my copper either recycled from different people who donate it to me or from Rio. First, I heat the metal so it's easy to bend. I bend the metal and hammer it. Then I heat it again. This process continues until I get the shape I want. Most of the time, what I see in my mind's eye isn't the end result. The metal is the boss in this relationship."

The first Friday of every month, Louisville holds The Trolley Hop. It's an art show, tourist attraction and overall street party held downtown 5 pm to 11 pm, rain or shine. The galleries close around 9:00 pm, but the trolley runs until 11:00 pm. Metalsmithing techniques can be viewed at the studio.

"For the Trolley Hop, I would do demonstrations with my 10-ton press or my torch or both,” she says. “The measuring, sawing, filing and sanding are as interesting to people to watch.”

During her demonstrations, passers-by can watch Neidig handcraft her popular copper Statement Necklaces, featuring flowers hand formed out of copper. Each piece begins as a 12" x 6" copper sheet.

necklaceCopper fold-formed necklace.

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Neidig.

"I run the metal through my rolling mill for texture,” she says. “Then, I draw the shape and saw it out, filing and sanding the rough edges. Often, I press a spiral, petal or leaf design into the metal.”

Next, she fine tunes the shape, before incorporating her signature color treatment.

“I use various fold forming techniques, then anneal the metal with my torch and also use the torch to bring out different colors,” says Neidig. “An example is my copper pendant hydrangea really brings out the violet, purple and blue colors. I also ball up both ends of the copper wire and leave extra to add a curl. I like to use beads and gemstones in my creations, too."

With a busy schedule set for 2013, viewers can find Neidig's work at Studio Gallery on Shelby Street and at Consider Boutique on Bardstown Road in Louisville, and at select shows across the region.

Resources:

Leslie Neidig Designs, 207 S. Shelby St., Louisville, KY

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