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Elegant items fashioned from discarded copper

From junk to jewelry

December 2, 2011
By JACKIE STARK - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - J R Scott gets inspiration for his art from nature and he gets his materials from scrap yards.

Scott is part of a growing movement called "upcycling" in which discarded materials or products are repurposed into things of higher value.

After taking a course at Bella Beads in downtown Marquette, Scott, who has competed nationally in wood carving contests, decided to dabble in jewelry making.

Article Photos

J R Scott of Red Metal Jewelry solders braided copper wiring into a bracelet. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)

"(The class) was enough to get me going," he said.

And so began Scott's newest form of artistry.

Using native copper found in ore piles throughout the Upper Peninsula and things like old copper piping, copper wiring and copper sheet metal, all of which he purchases from scrap yards, Scott shapes the discarded metal into jewelry centered around the U.P.

He has pieces featuring Lake Superior, moose and, of course, the U.P. itself.

For Scott, the process of making his jewelry is a very personal one. As he solders, cuts or pounds out an outline of the U.P. he remembers all the places he's been to.

"If I'm carving around Grand Marais, I think about Grand Marais and picking up agates with my wife," he said.

He said he spends five to six days a week in his workshop, which is filled to the brim with tools of the trade.

"I try not to make it seven," he said.

Scott's workshop is a testament to his passion for the arts. He has a bucket filled with hammers used to texture the metal, a small case of saw blades so thin they often break after one use, at least three different blowtorches to solder the copper with; he has a tool for every imaginable purpose.

And with used copper hanging off pegs and sitting in buckets and cups filled with copper-studded rock littering his work tables, Scott has no shortage of the red metal to hone his techniques with.

It takes more than three hours to complete some of the less intricate pieces of jewelry, and even longer for some of the bigger ones, Scott said. But art is in his blood, so a few hours spent in his workshop is considered time well spent.

Scott's mother was a painter and Scott said he has always enjoyed the creative process.

"I can't say it comes easy," he said. "But I've always liked the creativity of being able to create things."

Scott will be at the Poor Artists Sale held in Calumet on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Lakeview Craft Sale in Negaunee on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and at the Winter Farmer's Market in the Marquette Commons on Dec. 17.

Scott also sells his jewelry on

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242



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