Copper in the Arts

June 2017

Copper Wares and Whimsy of Etta + Odie

By Jennifer Hetrick

edie1.jpgMinimalist modern copper pipe planter by Etta + Odie.

Photograph courtesy of Etta + Odie.

Friends Sarah Bennett and Sara Alexander opened their Etsy shop called Etta + Odie in 2015—shaping its product line with what they knew they could make using only a handful of reliable necessities: cement, copper, wood and rope.

“We both prefer a clean, minimal aesthetic and felt like these materials accomplished that look,” Alexander says.

The Asheville, North Carolina-based business moniker stems from old nicknames they have for each other, less frequently used but still as heart-hugging: Bennett is Etta, and Alexander is Odie.

Some of their most popularly ordered pieces incorporating copper are hanging planters with four cuts of half-inch copper pipe and a 9-inch-by-6-inch cement planter sitting on copper legs which are almost 13 inches long.

“We like to mix textures and finishes, and having the combination of the matte of the cement and the metallic shine of the copper works really well with our aesthetic,” Bennett says.

“Our planters are made with a combination of limited materials, cement and copper, in order to keep a modern and clean aesthetic which also feels warm and handmade,” Alexander notes. “We accomplish this by keeping the imperfections of the materials present, such as the unevenness of the rim of the pot juxtaposed to the industrial feel of the copper stand.”

In their staged scenes for their Etsy shop, Bennett and Alexander use mostly dried plants, like eucalyptus, which offers a cool-colored contrast to copper, in blue-green tones, with a lightly powdery look.

They also use snake plants, succulents and other houseplants.

And air plants for the pipe-made planters are all their own appeal.

edie2.jpgFriends and founders Sarah Bennett and Sara Alexander, of Etta + Odie.

Photograph courtesy of Etta + Odie. 

“Air plants are small tropical plants which receive their nutrients and moisture from the air, so they can survive without being planted in soil, Bennett says. “We really like them for our hanging planters because of their small size and the fact that they don't need to be planted, so you can just put them right into the pipe.”

Thriving by an occasional misting or sitting in a bowl of water for a few minutes every few weeks, air plants are more carefree.

With hanging planters, customers comment on their love of the size, given that they’re so miniaturized, different from the norm of plants in a home or office setting.

Those who purchase Bennett and Alexander’s planters use them on walls, windows and inside empty frames—and in work cubicles, too.

“Bathrooms are actually a great option, if you are using air plants,” Bennett says.

A pipe cutter for planters and wire cutters for their metal bookmarks are the main tools which Bennett and Alexander use with copper, along with industrial strength epoxy for securing pipe parts to fittings.

They source their copper from RioGrande and local shops.

“Working with pipe can be repetitive at times because you are simply making cut after cut after cut,” Alexander says. “Working with wire can offer a lot more expression and creativity.”

Their copper bookmarks often bend into variations of leaves or different geometric shapes.

“We both love to read and thought they would be a great combination of our two loves—plants and books,” Bennett says about their bookmarks which are more permanent than standard paper kinds.

“It is very rewarding to be able to manipulate the material easily because it is more immediate than pouring cement,” Alexander reflects. “We can have an idea and create what we see in our heads within minutes.”

The duo have been hitting the craft fair circuit, and have recently participated in Atlanta’s Indie Craft Experience and Nashville’s Porter Flea.

“The renaissance of crafters and artisans making things by hand which are both functional and beautiful is incredible, especially because many things have become digital and intangible in this age,” Alexander says. “We think many people still have an innate need to make things, and that has driven this type of work to become so popular again. So art, in a way, has been a release for those of us who can't live our entire lives behind a screen.”


Etta + Odie, Asheville, NC

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