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For The Home

Precious Metal

Author: Shayla Hyde
Issue: August, 2017, Page 128
Photo by David Moore

Copper is a living metal. If you’re not in love with the way it looks today, give it a few months or years.
-Jeff Koenig, metalsmith
Copper’s significance in Arizona is as rich as its natural patina

Pennies may be obsolete, but their familiar alloy—copper—is far from being out of date. With many contemporary homes being clad in the russet-hued metal, and national retailers bringing copper accessories to market, Arizona’s once-No. 1 export is as bright as a shiny coin. 

“As an interior embellishment, copper adds authentic Western warmth,” says Phoenix Home & Garden
Masters of the Southwest award winner Jeff Koenig, who uses the metal to craft sleek countertops, range hoods and cabinetry. “People are just now seeing its capabilities. From a gleaming mirror finish to matte black to multiple shades in between, copper is a zero-maintenance option that goes well with leather, dark woods and natural stone.”

Arizona native  and metalsmith Casey Barras notes that copper has mesmerized people for thousands of years. “There are many who believe it has supernatural benefits,” he says. Barras attributes the metal to his very existence. After World War II, his grandfather worked the mines as a superintendent in Kearney, considered the epicenter of Arizona’s copper basin. Since then, the ore has been instrumental in defining his lineage—from the mining done by his ancestors to the fabrication he now does forging mugs specifically created for cocktails. “It’s something that a lot of people are drawn to, especially in the Southwest. Like our landscape, it’s very rustic, and when people incorporate copper into their homes here, it becomes a fitting tribute to our  own history.”

Koenig is in agreement. “Our state is what it is today because of this metal. And it is coming into its own as a design element because of its incredible versatility. It’s malleable, nonporous and antibacterial. With the broad range of patinas that can be achieved, there is something for everyone. Copper is a living metal. If you’re not in love with the way it looks today, give it a few months or years. It will change and oxidize, and you may like it even better.”

So whether you are enjoying a Moscow mule from an ice-cold mug, watching the light dance off the bar that it’s sitting on—or listening to the pennies jingling in your pocket—you can give thanks to Arizona that copper is still king.
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