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Copper and Solder

Copper + Solder: industrial style crafted by hand

by Camilla

We got lots of interest and more sales than we thought we would, which was great but proved quite tricky with the little spare time we had. So I decided to leave my job and make Copper + Solder my new priority.

When Katie Figiel asked her dad to help her make a copper table, she never expected it to become a full-time business, but as she studied him at work Katie developed the skills she needed to craft her own industrial style homewares, and Copper + Solder was launched. The demand for their copper and concrete products – including candle holders, iPad stands, copper coat rails and even industrial toilet roll holders – quickly became so great that Katie decided to quit her day job and focus all her energy on her growing creative business. We caught up with Katie to find out more…

Can you introduce yourself and describe what you do?
Hello! I’m Katie, 23. I studied Textiles Design at university, specialising in Print Design. I have a new brand called Copper + Solder, where we create and hand craft copper homewares.

Industrial shelving, copper pipes,

I only started working with copper in June 2015. Really! After we created a couple of copper products for ourselves, Dad and I wondered if anyone else would be interested. We came up with a brand name and listed our first collection on Folksy.

Have you always been creative?
I’ve always felt comfortable in the creative industry and have only ever studied creative courses. I studied Art and Design at college, and then went on to study Textiles Design at Derby University, specialising in Print Design. When I was at college I created a sweet shop of candles in my spare time, using tea cups and vintage tins, which I would fill with candy-scented wax. The candles were sold in Selfridges via Supermarket Sarah, and I started running workshops. My sister Laura also made jewellery and screen printed goods, which she sold under her brand She Draws. All of this helped me when I was setting up Copper + Solder, as I was familiar with creating and selling. We’re all quite creative in different ways, so this really helps the ideas stage.

What was your experience of craft at school? 
I wasn’t a huge fan of D&T at school – it was always quite scary with all the big industrial machines and I was afraid I would chop my fingers off. However, I did like the end result of producing something which I could use.

copper-and-solder-quote

I wasn’t a huge fan of D&T at school – it was always quite scary with all the big industrial machines and I was afraid I would chop my fingers off.When did you start working with metal?

It was only in June 2015. Really! My dad has his own painting and decorating business and is pretty good at DIY, so my sister and I asked him to make us a copper pipe table when we were living together. Unfortunately I was made redundant and temporarily moved back home, so I started helping Dad with products for our home and learning all about copper and soldering.

Is that how Copper & Solder started?
After we created a couple of products for ourselves, Dad and I wondered if anyone else would be interested. We came up with a brand name, created a few more products and listed our first collection on Folksy. By then both of us were working full time, so we thought we could make at the weekends. However, we got lots of interest and more sales than we thought we would, which was great but proved quite tricky with the little spare time we had. So I decided to leave my job and make Copper + Solder my new priority.

copper coffee dripper, copper coffee stand

It all starts with the idea. It takes time to plan and think of the design before turning it into copper, so we don’t rush it. We always try to design innovative products that are useful and can be used in more than one way.

How would you describe the Copper and Solder aesthetic?
Quality, handcrafted, simple and industrial.

Who or what inspires you?
My sister is my biggest inspiration, although we live apart now she helps a ridiculous amount with Copper & Solder and I’m extremely grateful. Aside from her, I’m constantly absorbing inspiration from everywhere. Places, brands and things in general that I’m inspired by are COS, Aesop, Denmark, Oak Magazine, Studio NL, Gather & Feast, Höst, Stilleben… any many more! See our Pinterest boards to get an idea!

copper and wood shelving, copper ipad stands,

I use the spare room for my designs and planning – I usually go here to think of new ideas, reply to emails and pack orders, everything which doesn’t require a blow torch or a dust mask!

Is your home as stylish as your work?
Luke (my other half) and I recently moved from Surrey back to the Midlands with my parents – temporarily! So we haven’t got much choice on what we do with decor. However, I have lots of plans and ideas for when we move out and we’ve gathered lots of stylish homeware bits and bobs.

Can you describe your workspace?
I use the spare room for my designs and planning – this is my little design getaway/hub. It’s full of copper (of course) and lots of other materials for me to play around with. I usually go here to think of new ideas, reply to emails and pack orders, everything which doesn’t require a blow torch or a dust mask, basically! For the making side I have to go outside as it’s messy and I’m dealing with fire.

cutting copper pipes, copper and solder

Each individual piece is precisely cut – depending on the product, this can be up to 25 pieces of copper just for one item.

Can you talk us through that making process? 
It all starts with the idea. It takes time to plan and think of the design before turning it into copper, so we don’t rush it. We always try to design innovative products that are useful and can be used in more than one way. This then leads on to a plan of how big each piece of copper needs to be. Once the planning is done, we start cutting the pipe.

Each individual piece is precisely cut – depending on the product, this can be up to 25 pieces of copper just for one item. Once the copper pipe has been cut, we assemble it together, making sure it’s all level and works correctly for the purpose, for example if it’s a copper iPad stand we have to make sure that an iPad fits on the stand. Each individual copper piece is then wire wooled and a solution called flux is brushed on to the ends (this is a cleaning agent and allows all connecting and touching parts of copper to solder together well). The product then gets fixed back together again and all of the connecting parts are soldered. Once everything is soldered and cooled down, it’s time to wire wool and polish.

copper ipad stand, copper and solder

Once the copper pipe has been cut, we assemble it together, making sure it’s all level and works correctly for the purpose, for example if it’s a copper iPad stand we have to make sure that an iPad fits on the stand.

What’s your favourite part of the making process?
My favourite part is probably the soldering. It’s quite scary and challenging but you always know you’re going to get a solid, robust product at the end of it.

Are there any other crafts or techniques you would like to learn?
I absolutely loved ceramics at college and I very nearly studied it at university, so I would love to learn more about that… and jewellery making too. My sister and I are actually doing a workshop with an amazing company called The Workbench in January at Studio NL, which I’m very excited about.

Copper homewares

Been creative for a living is extremely rewarding. The amount of support and kind words we’ve received is just amazing and it really does give you more encouragement to carry on.

What’s the best thing about making for a living?
It’s extremely rewarding. The amount of support and kind words we’ve received since our launch is just amazing and it really does give you more encouragement to carry on.

What would you say to someone thinking about selling their work?
Do it! Do it before you regret not doing it! There are so many ways to sell your work, websites like Folksy are a good starting point to get brand awareness and to see how well it could do. It’s easy enough to start it in your spare time, and see where things can lead.

copper homeware

Craft to me means anything that is made with love by hand… there are SO many ridiculously talented people out there who make wonderful goods.

What does craft mean to you?
Craft to me means anything that is made with love by hand.

How does it feel to be part of the craft scene today?
It feels great, there are SO many ridiculously talented people out there who make wonderful goods and it’s great to have their support, and be able to give it back.

copper towel rail

There are so many ways to sell your work, websites like Folksy are a good starting point to get brand awareness and to see how well it could do.

How would you spend your perfect day?
I’d say wandering around Copenhagen, visiting all the nice independent shops and markets, eating delicious raw food from one of many nice cafés, and finishing it off with a stroll through the green parks with a bite to eat and a glass of sweet wine at Höst!

Copper Pipe Drinks Trolley, Copper and Solder, cocktails

We’ve just finished a bespoke copper drinks trolley for an amazing new non-alcoholic spirit company called Seedlip, which will be in Selfridges this week!

Are there any exciting new projects on the horizon?
We’ve just finished one actually – it was a bespoke copper drinks trolley for an amazing new non-alcoholic spirit company called Seedlip, which will be in Selfridges this week! We also have some brand new products, including Copper & Solder apparel! Although we won’t be soldering them, we’re hoping to introduce other products and broaden our range, allowing a little something for everyone.

copper and solder, sweatshirt, copper lettering

See the whole Copper + Solder range on Folksy 

Get 20% off all Copper + Solder products with the code iwantcopper
– discount valid until 31st December 2015

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1 comment

francesca November 4, 2015 - 1:53 pm

Wonderful :-) Love the peg rail especially.

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