Copper in the Arts

October 2015

James Reynolds: Drawn to the Inherent Beauty of Copper

By Courtney H. Diener-Stokes

Allegorical Double Doors Copper PanelsAllegorical Double Doors Copper Panels and Oak Door Frames by James Reynolds

Photograph courtesy of James Reynolds

As a youngster growing up in Massachusetts and now as an adult living in Rhode Island, artist James Reynolds’ life has always revolved around water.

“My proximity to the ocean has always been important to me,” Reynolds says. “It has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I live near the ocean now and I grew up near the ocean and that is a big influence now.”

As a result, abstract water motifs serve as a recurring theme in his bas-relief metal work. His relief work, most of which is commission-based, is a collaboration of sorts.

“I work with architects and designers, but a lot of it is left up to me to figure out,” he says. “Whatever the client and the designer is actually looking for I will work within that realm.”

Much of Reynolds’ commissioned works are made for restaurants, cruise ships and high-end homes.  

“I created pieces for a few restaurants on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships,” he says.

He finds the commissioned pieces enable him to explore other styles he wouldn’t normally delve into, like Arts and Crafts and Art Deco. He has a preference for working with tinplate steel and copper.

“I like copper because of its inherent richness as a material, and the ability to age it with patinas and with flame finishes,” he says. “It has an ancient quality to it.”

Reynolds says his customers prefer the natural beauty of copper versus other metals.

“It is a material that matches a rich wood grain really beautifully so I think that’s why the designers are drawn to it,” he says. “It’s sort of a timeless material, whereas stainless steel has a more modern feel to it.”

Reynolds purchases 3’ by 8’ copper sheets at Cambridge Street Metal in Massachusetts.

He typically uses acid-based patina solutions from Sculpt Nouveau in Escondido, California, which specializes in patina and metal finishing products, sculpture maintenance and metal protection.  

“They are really helpful,” he says.  “They make their own solutions and will talk you through anything.”

Reynolds typically does the bulk of the work. himself at his studio in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

“I have someone who comes in and makes all of the backings for me, but I do all of the metalwork,” he says.

Most of Reynolds’ time in creating his work is devoted to designing the piece and fleshing out the concept and going back and forth with collaborators.

“The deadlines for the restaurants are pretty crazy,” he says. “I have to measure the area where the piece will go and that is usually the last thing that is able to be determined in the construction process.”

Resources:

James Reynolds, 101 Regent Ave., Providence, RI (401) 533-6966

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