Like all the elements, copper is manufactured in outer space, by stars. Used by humans for over 8,000 years, it is a non-ferrous metal that is easy to work with and has a beautiful, lustrous finish. An excellent conductor of heat and electricity, copper is often used for electrical and culinary purposes. It is also biostatic, meaning bacteria does not grow on it. Whenever possible I purchase it from salvage yards where clippings from large construction projects are often dumped.
The primary technique that I use with copper is called fusion. With this technique, one unspools bare copper wire with one hand while melting it with a torch using the other hand. Because copper has a low melting point, the molten metal can be guided and shaped, almost like clay. Fusion is a fairly dramatic technique, and is about as close to sculpting hot metal by hand that you can get. The process affords a great deal of flexibility and results in beautiful surface features that cannot be obtained thru traditional metal casting. Other techniques I use with copper include enameling, in which glass is fused onto the copper, and hammering, in which I pound sheet copper into various objects, such as bowls or sconces.