Discover Copper Online

Spring 2001

Outdoor Copper Enhances Homes

Homeowners should think copper if they want to impress visitors and passers-by.

Copper and its alloys have long been enhancing the exteriors of homes and their landscaping, like the Versailles palace of Louis XIV. For centuries copper has been used to provide decorative accoutrements to residential exteriors. Some current examples include:

  • Garden gates of entwined copper flowers, leaves or vines from Coppergardens, Inc., Rough & Ready, California.
  • Copper trellises, fences, arbors, bird baths and obelisks from CopperGarden, Inc., Versailles, Kentucky; and Sycamore Creek Copper Garden Furnishings, Ancram, New York.
  • Copper animals from Connecticut Coppersmiths.
  • Decorative lawn sprinklers from several manufacturers.
  • Fanciful downspouts from Art of Rain.
A patinated, double-panel "wisteria" gate from Coppergardens

There is of course one way in which copper is not just a landscaping enhancement, but a vital necessity-in sprinkler and irrigation systems.

Intricate garden gates (see photo) are created by hand by David Burns of Coppergardens, Inc., a company he founded with his wife in 1994. He uses ordinary soft and hard copper water piping and half-hard sheet copper. The hinges and latches that he creates in his machine shop are made of sheet brass.

Some homeowners order his gates for driveways, often with automatic controls. In addition to gates, Burns also creates bases for tables and interior decorations out of copper. All his creations are assembled by either welding or brazing of the copper-no hardware is used.

Burns, who refers to copper as "the noble red metal that loves the weather," chose it for several reasons, but mainly for its color, which changes over time. If a client so desires, and most do, Burns "jump starts" aging to verdigris by a chemical treatment after the pieces are sandblasted. He obtains his copper and brass from ABC Supply, Sacramento; Ferguson Enterprises, Grass Valley, California and R.J. Leahy Co., San Francisco.

Recycled Wire

Verdigris-treated heronsVerdigris-treated herons from Connecticut Coppersmiths.

Anthony May of CopperGarden, Inc., also uses copper tube and sheet to create off-the-shelf and custom trellises, fences, bird baths and obelisks. He uses recycled copper wire to fasten them together. May, a coppersmith who also repairs copper objets d'art, says that he "loves" working with copper. His sources for Types K, L and M copper tubing are Corken Steel, Covington, Kentucky, and Master's Supply, Lexington, Kentucky.

Quite similar copper enhancements are available from Sycamore Creek Handcrafted Copper Garden Furnishings. According to Carol Smillie, some of her products are available in kit form that handy garden lovers can assemble themselves with ordinary tools. For example, products that cost $190 in assembled form cost only $125 in kit form. (However, the assembled pieces are hand treated for patina while kits are not.) She obtains her copper tube from local plumbing supply houses.

Rob Bunting of Connecticut Coppersmiths, in Guilford, Connecticut, creates a great variety of animals to decorate gardens and lawns, such as the herons illustrated here. A former jeweler and silversmith, he also offers decorative items for homes, such as lamps, coat racks and tables. He uses Revere's 16-ounce copper flashing that he obtains from Bradco Supply, West Haven, Connecticut.

Grapevine DownspoutDownspouts from Decorative Gutters
Dragon-Fly Downspout

Art of Rain (formerly Decorative Gutters) owner, Vladimir Sumchenko, creates downspouts in a variety of eye-catching forms out of sheet copper, including ducks, frogs, herons, as well as non-animal shapes. A one-time blacksmith in his native Ukraine, he uses 16-oz and 20-oz copper sheet that he obtains from Alaskan Copper and Brass in Portland, Oregon. Sumchenko installs the downspouts himself within 50 miles of his studio in Vancouver, Washington. Distant buyers receive detailed instructions for installation of his downspouts.

Decorative copper sprinklers are available from several sources, including Reign By Design, Wilmot, Wisconsin. The sprinklers, which are available in outlets from garden supply houses and some gift shops, cost $240 each. The copper comes from Burkheimer Supply, McHenry, Illinois.

ABC Supply: 916/452-7000
Alaskan Copper and Brass: 503/238-6840
Bradco Supply: 203/934-7911
Burkheimer Supply: 815/385-0021
Connecticut Coppersmiths: 203/458-1785
CopperGarden, Inc.: 606/879-9337
Coppergardens: 888/431-1001
Decorative Gutters: 360/891-6540
Ferguson Enterprises: 530/272-1045
R. J. Leahy: 415/861-7161
Reign By Design: 262/862-7890
Sycamore Creek: 518/398-6393

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