Sculpting in Copper – reviewed

Sculpting in Copper is a remarkable book written by probably the only person who could have written it – Sue White-Oakes, with photographer Jim Pratt. Back in 2004, I spent a day at her studio in West Linton, exploring her work and techniques. Now this book goes into much greater detail with the aim of providing inspiration and guidance for new sculptors.

Copper is a much overlooked medium yet it has many properties that make it attractive. It is less expensive than silver, especially when recycled. When heated it can be bent or beaten very easily and any waste can be reheated and used again and again. It can be worked at lower temperatures than, for example, iron, so does not require a large workshop. It doesn’t rust but develops an attractive patina which can be allowed for in the design.

This book begins by exploring the material itself, its properties, sources and the tools required to work it. Sue has experimented for many years and learnt many ‘tricks’ which she is happy to pass on. She has also made many of her own tools, designed for specific tasks and these are as important as the correct technique when working in such detail.

The book goes on to take the aspiring sculptor through an increasingly difficult number of projects, from a simple bowl to a meticulously planned and detailed dragonfly and finally explores how Sue made a freestanding tawny owl. The amount of information provided here is extremely generous, not just because of the ‘patterns’ provided, but because of the wealth of experience which is being freely passed on. The photography is especially helpful as every stage is demonstrated. It almost feels as though you are in the workshop with Sue, watching her work and watching the material succumb to her treatment.

The final part of the book is an inspiring gallery of both Sue’s work and that of a selection of other contemporary artists, which just shows again what the imaginative perfectionist can achieve with copper. While Sue works to commissions, her work has been displayed at the Lost Gallery in Strathdon.

But who is going to read this book? Anyone who wants to try their hand at sculpting in copper will deem this an absolute must. And at a RRP of £19.99 it’s highly affordable, especially given the quality and quantity of the photography. Even if you have no intention of becoming a sculptor, but are still fascinated by how it’s done, what a fantastic gift to the world of art this book offers!

Sculpting in Copper (Basics of Sculpture) is available from Amazon here

Published by

Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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