Copper in the Arts

December 2020

Copper Artist Ronald Stauffer Honored by Amazon

By Lisa Scheid

It all started with an angel.

Before a $15,000 award from Amazon changed Ronald D. Stauffer’s craft business, it’s not an exaggeration to say his life had been changed by a copper angel.

Stauffer discovered his talent for working with copper after struggling with a drug-resistant clinical depression. His therapist recommended he find a hobby to assuage the grief of being unable to work in his beloved career as an elementary school teacher.  

“I missed the kids,” Stauffer says.

Ronald Stauffer Copper RosesHandsculpted copper roses by Ronald Stauffer. 
Photograph courtesy of Ronald Stauffer. 

About six years ago, he took a copper stamping class making angels.

“It’s so therapeutic,” says Stauffer, of Boyertown, Pennsylvania. “I love the color of copper. It’s very malleable. It’s easy to twist and turn and easy to cut. Copper is very forgiving because it is so pliable.”

He describes himself as a hands-on kind of person so the copper work fed his desire to work with his hands. Stauffer, 64, became a teacher after trying work as a machinist. He didn’t like the work and went to college to become a teacher. Ultimately, his first job was replacing his first grade teacher at a parochial school.

When he turned to copper angels, there wasn’t a plan for a business, or even to sell his pieces.

He experimented with making roses. He traced a pattern on plastic folders from a dollar store. 

Soon he was looking at something and thinking “how could I make that out of copper.”

He gave his creations to friends and family then others were offering to pay him for his work. 

Then came craft shows, the Kutztown Folk Festival and Goschenhoppen Festival in Pennsylvania. He started selling his work online. He has a shop on Etsy and Amazon Made 

He has branched into incorporating glass into his pieces such as his bonsai trees and pendants. 

He makes glass icicles, which are becoming as popular as his angels around Christmas. 

“The (copper) bonsai trees are mounted on wood,” he says. “The contrast is really neat to see.”

Earlier this year, Amazon invited its Handmade vendors to fill out questionnaires about their respective businesses, including background story, inspiration and how they would use the prize money to expand their business if they won.

Stauffer was among 15 finalists selected by judges. People from around the world then chose the five winners over a period of about two weeks. Stauffer’s customers, friends and family (his wife is Filipino) around the world all lent support.  

In September he was recognized by Amazon as part of the e-commerce giant’s Handmade store fifth anniversary. Stauffer received $15,000 to further his business, Ron’s Roses, which had been largely word-of-mouth venture. 

He was thrilled. 

“I almost died because I never win anything and I was never told I was artistic before,” Stauffer said.   

Since winning the contest, sales have increased.

Stauffer said he has bought a 12-by-16-foot shed to store his copperwork. Living in a Cape Cod in a small town doesn’t give him much room. He usually works at his kitchen table or in his basement. He stored finished pieces in his garden shed. 

He has also ordered a laser cutter to create intricate designs. 

Stauffer has come a long way but he said his work is still a labor of love.

“I recently sold a wall-hanging for $225,” he said. “It took me 40 hours to make it. You really can’t charge by the hour.”

Resources:

Ronald Stauffer, Boyertown, PA

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