It’s one of the first metals ever utilized by humans, so, fortunately, there is a great pool of knowledge for this universal element. People believe that it came about over 10,000 years ago and its uses vary since then. Currently, we use copper in plumbing products, electronic conductors, and so on. Its innate molecular structure lends itself to being manipulated, used, and reused.
Native Trails has worked directly with the master coppersmiths who create your sinks, vanity tops, and accessories since the mid-1990’s. They have a deep understanding of the material, and they continue to handcraft our products using many of the age-old methods of their ancestors. For instance, they work each sink by hand. There are many detailed steps that take our artisans days or even weeks to complete.
The process begins with the melting of recycled parts over a furnace that must get the copper to at least 1981.4°F (1083.0°C). Once the metal is molten, they carefully lift the crucible with tongs and cast into an ingot, a brick of copper that they mill into a sheet. This is where gauge, or thickness, comes into play. Gauge is extremely important when it comes to crafting sinks and tubs as it ultimately determines the structural integrity of our products.
Once they achieve the correct gauge, the artisans go through a lengthy process of stretching, sinking, and raising the copper with specialized hammers, while occasionally annealing (heating) it in the fire to relax the metal in between hammering. They finalize the process by using a planishing hammer – its smooth face creates a polish and hardens the copper. This entire process is physically demanding. As mentioned above, the varied steps often take days for a completed sink and weeks for a bathtub.
Copper’s benefits seem endless; its ability to be repurposed again and again for mixed uses makes us confident that we are being good stewards of the land. We are grateful to participate with these incredible artisans who are maintaining their cultural heritage and passing on these valuable skills to their heirs. Come join this copper evolution!