Copper is well-known as a versatile material with many applications and uses. Oftentimes, the conversation around copper centers around its many functions in everyday life, namely its electrical and thermal conductivity. Because of this attribute, you’ll find copper wiring and copper connectors in your computers, your cell phone, your garage door opener, and in your appliances. But copper’s usefulness doesn’t end there.
It’s also in your home’s plumbing, and your automobile. But in all of these instances, copper is mostly chosen because of its functionality, not its aesthetic value. Sure, copper wiring is beautiful, but it’s not usually kept on full display. It’s closed off, out of sight.
What About Copper Artwork?
Still, copper’s beauty has had a lot to do with its contribution to human civilization. Throughout history, copper’s unique aesthetics have made it a popular material for artists.
Copper and Painting
Many ancient painters used copper-based pigments. While we know copper as a shiny reddish color, it appears in nature in many colors – one of the most famous (and difficult to replicate) being Egyptian Blue.
Renaissance artists painted their masterpieces on copper canvases. This choice is assumed to have come from necessity, due to a lack of access to suitable materials. There were few options available capable of rivaling copper’s smoothness and durability.
Perhaps the most famous copper sculpture is the Statue of Liberty. While it appears green today, that effect has more to do with copper’s oxidative properties than it does with the artist’s intent. You see, copper doesn’t rust. Instead, it produces a greenish patina called copper oxide. While rust is known to degrade metals, copper’s oxidation actual becomes a protective element, keeping it safe from corrosion. That’s why our lady liberty appears green and remains un-degraded.
Modern Uses for Copper in Art
Despite the focus on historical uses, it’s important to note that there has been a resurgence of interest in creating art using methods from the past.
Copper etching was a medium used by many artists of the past, including Rembrandt. Today, copper etching has experienced a revival, with many artists and admirers drawn to this unique medium. Because copper is a soft metal, a 2.5-3 on Mohs Hardness Scale, it doesn’t require much pressure to leave permanent markings in the material.
Home decor is another area where copper is appreciated with its unique aesthetic. Copper’s beauty lends itself to mirrors, doorknobs, and fixtures. We of course have to mention kitchen range hoods made from copper, as one of our customers sources copper sheets from us to craft these beautiful, custom pieces.
Copper decorates well outside the home as well, with its ability to withstand the elements. Copper planters and window shutters are quite popular. Known for giving a more rustic look, copper appeals to a wide range of homeowners.
The history of copper is filled with artistic pursuits and involves many mediums. When it comes to the artistic application of copper, artists need a place to source their materials just like any industrial outfit does. Here at Mead Metals, we provide copper sheet and coil in small quantities and large, making us uniquely positioned to meet a wide range of needs, including artists.