Friday, March 6, 2009

Meet Etsy Artist: metalwork

Aside from creating beautiful zen inspired home decor and furniture from copper, Tom Petrilli is also a roofing contractor. Most of his art displayed on Etsy was created in the slow winter months when work as a roofer slows to a screeching halt. "On most projects we have scrap metal left over, it always bothered me to see these shiny beautiful pieces of copper crushed and sent off the scrap yard, so I started making little things out of the remnants," he explains of his artistic beginning. "It started with really simple stuff like ashtrays (event though almost everyone I know has quit), birdhouses (they are all vacant and I can’t figure out why), and useless but lovely little boxes," he jokes. "I would give some of the stuff to clients if they paid their bill in a timely manner, some people really liked it, but I think most of the time my gifts would wind up in the back of their garage." Thankfully he kept at it. In fact, a large part of his inspiration came from a classified ad for a lot of old tools. "I love old tools," he admits. "When I saw what the man had to sell I bought everything he had. They were all sheet metal forming machines, cranked by hand, they make curves, beads and edges and they are all at least 150 years old. I wanted to put the machines back to work, despite their age they perform flawlessly." Although it took some time to learn how to use them with the aid of 90 year old books, he has developed quite a knack. Oddly enough, being a roofer has helped him as an artist - and vice versa. "I've been roofing for 17 years, almost every house has a weird little corner or oddly placed chimney that requires a creative solution to keep the building dry. The copper smithing work has made me a better roofer and roofing has made me a better coppersmith." His copper tables are generating interest, so although this is just a secondary job, he hopes to transition over to it one day. "For now this is my job and I’m very happy to do it," he says. As for Etsy, he says the "real payoff is when someone writes to tell me how much they love something I’ve made." He admits that "when I’ve finished a roofing project and the client just gushes about how much they love the work we’ve done, about how beautiful it came out; that is a thousand times more satisfying then getting their final payment." He half-jokingly added, "I still need the check though; I can’t pay my mortgage with compliments." Please check out his shop:

-Wendy Baylis
Dharma Designs

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