Copper, in its many forms, is essential to my artistic expression. I love the material, its responsiveness to the environment, the way it transforms over time, and how it plays well with other materials. I enjoy working with ordinary industrial copper and reinterpreting it through design.

Surface transformation using hand-aged verdigris and hammered detailing has long been a part of my process. In 2014, I started exploring different methods of verdigris on sheet copper that were tied to the outdoors. I began with found objects and have expanded to plants. Working with leaves gives me a new palette of texture and colors to explore.


Detail, custom fireplace screen. ©2009 Cathy G. Vaughn, all rights reserved

Soldering

Beyond the design of my trellises, tables, gates and wall hangings, is the simple process of soldering. Joining copper pipe or tubing with fittings is accomplished by adding flux where the two pieces couple, heating the joint to approximately 800ºF, and melting silver solder to join the pieces together. I use all new materials in my work, and finish each piece with either a hand-rubbed oil finish, or hand-age the copper using combinations of acid and other compounds to achieve natural verdigris finishes.

 

Detail, cold-forged spiral. ©2014 Cathy G. Vaughn, all rights reserved

Cold Forging

Many of my pieces have hand-wrought curves and hammered details. I bend copper tubing by hand without heat, and have developed a feel for the necessary pressure to bend shapes and control crimping. Flattening bent pipe or sheet is done with hammer and anvil. I use many tools inherited from my father and grandfather.


Detail, Beech weeds, 2014. © Cathy G. Vaughn, all rights reserved

Botanical Etching

My newest process involves developing images on sheet copper. I use various leaves and plants to compose my designs, and allow the copper to react with plants to etch images directly on the copper sheets. Time, sunlight, rain, heat, and the chemicals present in each of the elements give me a range of colors and textures. Once the leaves are removed and the sheet cleaned, a natural verdigris develops on the copper surface. When the colors and textures finish rendering, the colors are fixed and the image is sealed with resin.