Learning more about copper, it’s history, and artisan’s traditions

Our partnering artisans.

Roots of Heritage has partnered with Purepecha descendant families in the mystical highlands of Central Mexico. These families have learned the art of the craft of working with copper and its versatility. This ancient craft has been passed down from generation to generation with the ever changing styles of each century, and each decade. Since the mid-1500s Purepecha and Spaniards have exchanged knowledge of working with this timeless metal. 

Our partnering artisans are families that work together to succeed and keep their ancient traditions and heritage alive. Some of our custom products can take 4-6 weeks to be made from start to finish, depending on the size and detail required by the client. 

Our master artisan, Ismael is the leader of the family, and works with his 7 brothers and sons. They work together with all of the knowledge that has been passed down to them from countless generations. Ismael and his family are masters of their craft. They are always willing to face new challenges, new ideas, and new designs that each client desires.  

At ROH we are currently working on a project where our partnering artisans and ourselves travel to some European countries to exchange knowledge and techniques with coppersmiths from the old world. Going back to our roots and the beginning of trading knowledge style and culture.

More about copper & its history.

Utilizing the element of fire, and the swing of a hammer, these beautiful works of art are formed.

Copper minerals are found throughout the earth’s crust. Copper occurs in both sedimentary and igneous rocks. The outer 10 kilometers of the earth’s crust contains 33 grams of copper for every ton of rock. And in some places, volcanic rock activity millions of years ago has deposited molten copper in some of the areas that are mined today. 

The Romans began widely importing copper from all across their empire, and started using the metal for engineering purposes, musical instruments, armor, and weaponry. Another important use of copper for the Romans was for their coinage, jewelry, furniture, tools, sculptures, and home products such as bathtubs. Also found in public baths which were very popular in that era. 

Fast forward a couple millennials, in 1801, Paul Revere established the first copper rolling mill in America. More specifically, in Massachusetts. 

Demand for copper is increasingly met by recycling. Recycling copper uses up to 85% less energy than primary production. 

At ROH it’s very important to us that we have products that are made with the least amount of impact, environmentally speaking. By recycling existing copper in different forms and liquefying the ancient metal at a foundry, then cooling it down, one is able to shape it into new forms. In our case, we get copper shaped into various sheet sizes, and various gauges. Then, the artisan’s work begins. 

Once copper is in sheet form, the artisans we partner with start to work their magic, one hammer strike at a time. Bending and shaping this precious metal into a piece art, is their speciality. Utilizing tools that have been essential for humankind for millennials. From the hammer to the anvil, from the wooden metal forming mallet to the leather sand bag, from the chisel to the scribing compass these products are formed. All of these are essential tools to create such a work of art.

What are the best ways to care for copper products?

Keeping your copper products pristine takes time and dedication, but you will feel and appreciate the benefits if you maintain your copper products correctly!

Did you know? Copper has a natural living anatomy that continuously transforms its surface by changing tonalities of its color. Continually lightening and darkening depending on the finishes, creating that ever changing, and unique patina. The natural chemistry changes is a natural reaction of the metal to protect itself from the elements. Copper naturally morphs from one color and tonality to the next. This is what gives copper its antiviral and antimicrobial properties. 

By simply wiping down the copper surface with a microfiber cloth you will find some patina come off on the cloth. This is perfectly normal. By using certain acidic natural products, like white vinegar mixed with table salt to pour onto the metal surface, rinse and then wipe after a few minutes, the copper is then going to change to a lighter and brighter tone. 

Copper will always search for its equilibrium and start to patina over time to protect itself. The more water and oxygen that comes into contact with the surface, the more the copper will patina. There is no primer, or sealant used for our copper products. 

Clean after each use with warm water, a gentle dish soap, and a soft cloth or sponge but be sure to avoid harsh and abrasive chemicals and cleaners. This will preserve your patina and finish. Now, if you would like your copper polished, there are other methods below.

IMPORTANT!! Never use scouring pads, steel wool, or any other hard scrubbing pad.

A great way to get rid of stubborn stains, is to use baking soda paste. Apply baking soda to a soft cloth and add running warm water, wipe onto the copper surface, let sit for a few minutes, and then wipe dry. You can repeat this process every 4-6 weeks if you want to decrease the patina, polish the copper, and maintain its brightness. There are other diverse copper cleaning products online. Another note: you can use copper wax if needed.

And always keep in mind, that the work to maintain your copper products is worth it, and will ensure that your products have lasting beauty for many many years to come! 🙂

What are the benefits of copper?

Copper is also known for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial properties. It has the ability to kill a wide variety of harmful microbes relatively quickly, often within 2 hours or less with a high degree of efficiency and effectiveness.

Copper bathtubs heat up faster with hot water, and retain heat longer than other traditional materials. 

Copper is environmentally friendly. Since it is a natural product, it is recyclable and can be used over and over again.

Copper has been used for health purposes since ancient times. Egyptians and Babylonian soldiers would sharpen their bronze swords (an alloy of copper and tin), after battle and place the bronze shavings in their wounds to reduce infection and speed up the healing process. 

Copper was also used in ancient Chinese and Indian medicine. Greeks and Aztecs also used copper oxide combined with other chemicals to treat skin infections and wounds. 

According to the Mayo Clinic and the National Institute of Health (NIH) COVID-19 only lives up to 4 hours on copper surfaces, in comparison to stainless steel, which lasts up to 3 days.