Copper in the Arts

May 2013

Roy Datz: Designer of Unique Handmade Copper Doors And More

Nancy Ballou


Copper door

Sculpted copper door.

Photograph courtesy of Ray Datz

"I believe my work reflects two generations," reminisces sculptor and artist Roy Datz regarding the copper tooling/embossing he learned from his father who was an odontologist. "He used the old techniques like repoussé. After his death, I took the metal to a higher level as permanent art that lasts a lifetime. He always told me 'Don't forget to sign it!' I honor his memory whenever I show my personally signed collection of handmade, one of a kind copper designs."
Today, Datz purchases copper a couple boxes (250 sheets) at a time from local metal shops for his business, Artistic Doors and More.  "I melt the solder with an oxyacetylene torch because the copper bubbles expand,” explains Datz. “I then hammer and apply acids and green patinas. I use 800 to 900 hits per square foot to make the background copper look thicker. This requires approximately four hours of hammering.” 
Datz has a sentimental attachment to copper as well, and has made the metal his preferred material. 
"My mother said if I wanted to feel closer to my father to grab a piece of copper and work at it---the warm, homey feeling the metal gives me is what I like best,” he says.  “I also like the way it bends, the different tones it provides like bronze copper, black and the variety of patina finishes. It can be as shiny as a new penny."
He creates beautiful front doors using a pin hammering technique  to form the copper to the contours of the door. "I design after I see pictures of the house and then show the client my suggestions. I use my eyes to extend small pictures to any dimension and I create handles closer to the hardware than most so you don't see them from far away. Side panels can be made to match the doors. Scenes chosen by clients are interesting to duplicate and geometric patterns require much measuring. Combinations can be created with single or double garage doors and the copper comes ready to be mounted over existing doors."
Copper door

Sculpted copper door.

Photograph courtesy of Ray Datz

Copper scenes are often inserted onto aluminum gates, then soldered and welded. There are also gates of bronze and copper that can be completed on one side or both.
Datz has three studios. He finishes the work for a few customers at the nearest studio, then ships the orders out. Metal cladding for tables, kitchens, bar areas, planters, and sculptures are just some of his copper offerings. He has designed beautiful back splashes consisting of wood/copper and can custom make any size copper picture ready to be hung in any decor. Oriental screens have four panels of copper sheet mounted on wood and painted with acrylic.
Datz consults with landscape and interior designers for his copper fountains. Some hang from ceilings. "My largest is four stories high and is 6 or 7 inches away from any wall where water falls from copper plate to copper plate,” he says. “I produced a lighting system to illuminate it. Many art projects are big wall designs and 3-D fountains. I put polyurethane on the copper and protect it with two or three coats of resin. For five years I have been making floating fountains and use acid to seal them from the ocean salt. I am working on one with nine panels to be installed in South Beach, Florida."
Currently Datz is involved with a 10-month project in commemoration of the Chilean disaster when miners were trapped for 70 days at 600 meters below the ground. Called Camp Esperanza (Which translates to ‘Hope’ in Spanish), 33 miners were finally rescued. Consisting of a huge sculpture and lighting system, it will be 60' x 35' wide transforming to a fountain. A small scale version will also be at the Santiago Airport. Each piece contains the name of a miner.
Though his preference is copper, Datz also works in other media. Additionally, he is a painter, actor, musician and member of the Screen Actors Guild.

References:

Roy Datz, New York City, Miami, FL, and Chile, (786) 267-1430

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