Several years ago when I dared venture towards the wonderful world of wire-weaving, downloading an endless stream of tutorials, visiting and re-visiting the sites of all the most consistently masterful wire-workers (Eni Oken, Iza Malczyk and Magdalena Atelier to name a few) and, when the courage was born, attending every Arts & Crafts show at which I could afford a table, I was suddenly, and somewhat sorrowfully, introduced to the Conflict of Copper.
That's right. The Conflict of Copper... with a capital "C". It's serious business. Statements are only emphatic when utilizing the importance of capital letters. I swear.
So there I was, happily engaged in the process of birthing tiny copper disasters which, in a stilted economy, bred tiny trouble-making children, which then crawled, in their infinite innocence, to the Arts & Crafts circuit, which then, by a miracle of the Gods (and my absolute surprise), began to sell, when a benevolent patron of the arts, a soothsayer of economic wisdom (or not so much), informed me that I was Cheating his market. Cheating! (Note the capital "C" for added emphasis.)
I harbored this notion, this ridiculous untruth, apparently, that this unassuming, agreeable metal somehow fit perfectly in the wire-working niche, beyond the degrading role of practice metal, beyond the ill-fitting connotation of "cheap", settling comfortably somewhere between the youth of bohemian individuality and the ever-evolving history of the earth. I believed, with unadulterated enthusiasm, the foolish ideal that copper was conceivably comparable to the flawless skin and undeniable weave of its siblings, Sterling Silver and Gold-Filled. Silly me, says the sagacious benefactor of the arts. I was devaluing his work (exclusively silver, mind you), and the work of artisans the globe over, with my tiny copper whelps, born so far on the wrong side of the tracks that a perceptive and discerning clientele blew by them like tumbleweed. And to all his infinite sagacity, his unrelenting pretentiousness and snobbery, my response was this:
That's right. So what?
I don't work with copper because it's inexpensive, nor because the market for this metal fluctuates pennies a year, nor because it's a readily accessible material, and therefore accessible to the client, though these are attributes worthy of praise. I love this metal because it is a ductile collection of electrical current which undulates through the very breath of life, because the world would otherwise lack the beauty of ancient architectural patina, the swirling, conjoining hues of Turquoise, the history of currency, the history of MAN, and yes, even the glorious perfection of sterling silver. The possibility of these things are bright harbingers of a beautiful future, full of color and sunlight, fathered by the presence of an unforgettable, sometimes unacceptable, metal.
I made the decision to be as unapologetic as possible. To spit in the face of the presumptuous and arrogant idea that beauty equals financial extravagance. To tell those sagacious economic experts that I will not be bothered by pretense, and find success irregardless of their woefully misguided advice. I've made the decision to live outside the confines of a perceived value. Will you?
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