My love affair with copper started many years ago when I started adding a simple, polished copper kudzu leaf to my traditional baskets. It was a unique way to put a signature on a my work and gave me an excuse to work with this incredibly malleable material. Over the years I moved away from my copper kudzu leaves and started weaving with copper as a way to use the material in more interesting ways. But now, leaves seem to have my heart again!
Inherent in my work is this deep desire to communicate the... well, the nature of nature. What I mean is, I really what you to think "wow, did this beautiful piece actually grow out of the earth?" I've often said "Every Basket Begins with a Walk in the Woods" and it's really true, not only from a material acquisition standpoint but also an inspiration standpoint. I love seeing cones, nests, pods, leaves, branches and river rocks as they all interact in nature and supernaturally all that goes into my creative well. When I get back to the studio, my art is the natural result of a supernatural experience.
This latest work I'm doing with copper is very exciting for me because it feels like I'm creating pieces that are so closely intertwined with nature. I've developed a new leaf design - this fern stem - and I've started electroplating some actual organic material (electroplating is a jewelry technique for plating gold, silver, platinum, etc) with copper as well. Think about that... A literal pine cone, seed pod or leaf covered completely in copper. WOW! Right now, the options seem endless and I'm so happy to be moving down this creative path. I hope you enjoy seeing the results!
Matt Tommey is a sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District.