Copper Art Design – Making a CopperArt Waterfall

copper art design

Waterfall Patina, Copper Panel, 42″ w x 60″ h

This large copper art wall hanging was designed to look like a waterfall. I recently shipped this 42″ x 60″ copper art design to a couple in Utah for prominent display in the foyer of their designer home.

Longevity? All the colors are created with inorganic salts of copper which will last indefinitely in bright sunlight. Three different lacquers are used to protect the patina from moisture, oxygen and abrasion. A metal frame protects the copper artwork from accidents during moving or children riding their bikes in the house.

How to Steps for Creating this Large Copper Art Design

1. I used 99.95% pure copper with .05% lead content instead of the normal trace amounts of beryllium or phosphorus. This copper sheet came from Arubis in Buffalo, NY. I think it actually accepts patinas better than the Revere copper. This copper is heavy, 20 oz. per square foot.The completed piece, with frame, ended up weighing 35 lbs.

2. I mounted the copper sheet to luaun board. I find this stays flatter than MDF manufactured fiber board. It is also prettier on the back – I mount the copper to the less-pretty side, then polyurethaned the back to bring out the beauty of the wood (for when someone wants to look at the back – shouldn’t artwork be beautiful from every angle?).

3. I used 3M’s 30NF water-based contact cement to glue the copper to the luaun. I use two coats with 30NF. I let the first coat completely dry, then put on the second coat then laid the copper on the wood while the glue was wet. This allowed for precision alignment. I clamped and pressed the copper-wood assembly and it was ready in 24 hours

4. I put my home-formula patina chemicals on thick in the generally desired design then covered them with a plastic sheet to get them to really bite in and adhere to the metal. The plastic sheet keeps the patina chemicals from drying out during the overnight treatment.After drying the patina thoroughly I rinsed it off. I did this repeatedly, judiciously applying chemicals, thoroughly drying the patina, then rinsing off any patina that didn’t stick. It is important to make sure your patinas are sticking.

The artwork just arrived – it is very beautiful – you are right that photographs don’t do it justice. When we finish our new home, we will mount the artwork and send you and John a photo.Tell John how much we love the piece…. J.B. Utah

5. During the patina steps and rinsing steps, I kept the copper patina panel on a slope to further enhance the waterfall effect, occasionally removing patina to build up the fountain design, using a paint brush, copper cleaner and low-scratch scrubbees.

6.I photographed the copper art design while wet, to get the customer’s approval. It took several attempts and photographs to get the colors and design just the way they wanted it. A patina wetted with water simulates the effect of lacquer on the patina.

7. After thoroughly drying the final patina for 24 hours with a fan, I sprayed on a 50:50 blend of Permalac and Clear Guard, 20% diluted with MEK and Xylene. I used a Spraymaster Sprayer, not the Iwata air sprayer: the spraymaster puts the lacquer on much wetter and really soaks into the patina. I gave it 24 hours to dry then touched up low gloss (thick patina) areas with more lacquer and a brush. Finally I top coated the copper patina panel with Incralac spray to bring up the gloss. The final effect was spectacular, very deep and wet looking with thick and thin areas, transparent layers on top of layers, a complex interplay of colors and textures.

8. I framed the copper patina panel with a #13 Nielsen floater frame. I love this frame because it puts a narrow black metal edge around the artwork without hiding any of the beauty. This frame is 9/16″ deep: in step 2, prior to gluing on the copper, I glued and nailed a 1/2″ wood frame to the back of the luaun. I secured the floater frame to the copper artwork with 1/2″ screws, added the 100# hanging wire and it’s ready for the photography.

9. Photography is a crucial step. I photographed the copper art design with 15 overlapping images of 15 sections, then stacked & aligned them in Photoshop. This created a 300 mb file with incredibly sharp detail, ideal for printing a giclee, should someone want a high-quality giclee of this design on canvas.

10. Finally I boxed up the framed copper artwork in a foam box that fit tightly inside a thick cardboard box reinforced at the corners with heavy-duty cardboard corner protectors. This kept the weight down to 50 lbs and I was able to ship it to Utah via Fed Ex Home Delivery for only $142!

This is what a horizontal version of this waterfall copper patina panel would look like:

copper art wall hanging

Copper Waterfall Design #2, patinated copper, 36″ x 72″

Please contact me to order a similar but original design (any size) on copper or this exact design in any size, horizontal or vertical, as a giclee on canvas.

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Copper Art Design - Making a CopperArt Waterfall
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Large Copper Art Wall Hanging designed to look like a waterfall. Made by John Searles
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3 comments on “Copper Art Design – Making a CopperArt Waterfall

  1. curt pfeffer

    very impressive…your understanding of the materials and your technique is terrific. I enjoy reading the details of your art and craft. Thank you.

  2. Joan Leviine

    Still love your work. My client is finally ready to get started on this project and I would love for him to use one of your pieces to be about 60 high by 40. If u don’t mind please send me your phone number so we can discuss the specifics.

    1. John Searles

      269-469-1509,