Maine Copper Studio
The personality of copper is what first drew artist Andrew Miller to the metal.
“It’s very beautiful in appearance,” Miller says. “I like when it’s shiny red and brand new. I’m most interested in the color mechanics that occurs when the patina happens.”
A couple of years ago, Miller established Maine Copper Studio, based in Woolwich, Maine, located about forty-five minutes north of Portland. His previous background in high-end construction gave him easy access to copper.
“For about fifteen to sixteen years I ran a company and we specialized in copper work related to high-end construction,” he says. “That got my hands on copper.”
Copper scraps leftover from construction projects inspired Miller to get creative with it on nights and during weekends. The son of portrait artist, Martha Miller, he finds his artistic nature is in his blood.
“I’m kind of a jack of all trades, but art is definitely something that is strong with me,” he says.
Whether making jewelry, such as copper and zinc cuffs, bracelets and rings, to wall-mounted pieces and picture frames, Miller, who also does printmaking, finds ways to incorporate copper into almost all of his work.
“Quite often I’ll take my prints I produce and frame them with my own copper frames,” he says.
Miller’s studio also serves as his woodworking shop, where he also enjoys making furniture, mirrors and bed frames.
“I find a lot of creative uses for copper within furniture,” he says. “I might make a bathroom wood vanity and use a bunch of patina copper in the piece for paneling,”
Miller uses different processes to patina copper.
“Sometimes it happens naturally and sometimes it’s something I’m driving to create,” he says. “Often I’m using heat to do my coloring. I flame paint pieces and coal forge a lot of my copper.”
Miller describes the coal forge process.
“I’ll put the copper in a coal forged fire and heat it up and make it softer and workable and I also do that because it creates darker characteristics to the piece,” Miller says. “When you are texturing and hammering the surface, those areas that are smashed down deeper will be darker.
He appreciates how it adds more dimension to his work, particularly his cuffs and bracelets.
“It gives your piece depth and makes it more interesting to look at,” he says.
Miller further describes the process he uses to make his copper work.
“I have a vice that has an anvil pad on it and I typically do my hammering and texturing right on that,” he says, adding, “There is a lot of edge rolling I do on the vice.”
Miller is fond of the effect that time has on his copper pieces.
“I like the mix of the blue and the purple and the green and the different shapes of each that occur over time,” he says. “I’m drawn to those colors. It’s something that happens naturally and I really admire it and it inspires me to create with it.”
The physics of the metal has also impacted his pleasure in working with it.
“Physically it is a very malleable metal for shaping and forming,” he says. “It’s very user-friendly.”
Regardless of the artistic creation on hand, Miller said he likes having his hands come into contact with copper for more than one reason.
“It’s a really good conductor, but also for your energy as a person, and a person with intentions going into the universe, I think it helps you,” he says, “It goes back to ancient Egyptian times when wearing copper bracelets or jewelry could help you in many ways.”
Also in this Issue:
- Harry Bertoia’s Sound Sculptures
- The Continuing Legacy of Sustainable Jewelry
- Maine Copper Studio
- Abraham Lincoln, Reimagined Through Pennies