Italian handcrafts: Trento Copper
- WTI Magazine #119 Sep 15, 2019
ln Trentino testimonies of metalworking appeared from the moment the man learned to use metals to build objects intended to meet the needs of everyday life. The mining and metalworking archaeology has provided many examples of a the processing of copper and other minerals in the mountains from the Valley of Mocheni to the plateau of Tesino. These materials were intended for human groups that expressed their artistic feelings through tools, jewellery, accessories, clothing and furniture and they have helped to create a consolidated basis of traditions, styles and techniques in Trentino.
Over the centuries, copper became the raw material which the mountain community has drawn on for its own needs in a wise balance of functional requirements and aesthetic sense.
The “Trentino Traditional Craftsmanship in Copper” product specifications present a detailed description for the creation of artifacts. The preliminary work is carried out with the aid of the smelting furnace and forge, which can also be used for smelting and processing other metals for accessories or parts of the copper product.
Starting from the ingot, the traditional sequence provides for cycles of beating and firing the outcome of which will be the production of the “cappellaccio” (for pots) or other forms of crude.
The copper plate is cut using a cutting disc, shears or scissors, mould not being used for cutting. Copper plates are normally welded manuall by oxyacetylene flame using the “copper with coppe” method; the welded part of the object is subsequently hammered by hand and annealed to remove the visible traces of the junction of the metal parts.
Very thick copper plates can be shaped using a manual or semi-automatic lathe, the contribution of the tool in this case it is essential providing the necessary strength to give the metal plate the concave shape, but the hand work of the craftsman is still important to give the object the desired look.
When hand beating copper, the metal is worked cold on the anvil, with hammering and annealing used to bend and shape the object.Hammering has an aesthetic purpose as well as a functional one, imparting to the product its distinctive appearance.
Today there are about a dozen companies still working this metal in craft workshops.
The Chamber of Commerce of Trento, in accordance with the main trade associations and the Regional Government, has set up Product Specifications, signed by about a dozen companies that specialise in traditional production methods.
Traditional products must meet and reproduce technical and formal traditions that has been consolidated over time, in addition to respecting the stylistic requirements of Trentino.
In addition to aiming to revive traditions, this project highlights the emergence of a strong image linked to the territory and its products, an image that fits a niche in the market that may offer promising, and economic, developments.
By Camera di Commercio di Trento with Unioncamere