Studio 157

Studio 157

About The Artist

Richmond, VA

bio: Cathy G. Vaughn is a full-time artist based in Richmond, Va. She received her BFA in graphic design from USC and spent 25+ years as a graphic designer. She is a self-taught copper smith and has exhibited her work regionally since 2012. statement: copper is my medium; natural materials and chemical compounds inform the surface transformation on sheet, formed and collaged copper creations, ranging from totems to abstract patinas to hand forged functional pieces.

Find more

Artist website

See their work in person

Richmond, Virginia


Tell us how your work is made.

With simple compounds like vinegar, salt, and leaves I am able to transform a flat sheet of copper into a portrait of the natural world. With tools handed down from my father and grandfather, I am able to transform a sheet of copper into a vessel, or solid wire into a hand forged hook. I work intuitively when harvesting leaves and composing on copper. Because of the many variables in my process: ambient temperature, leaf chemistry & patina chemistry, each piece is unique.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

Copper and I play well together. When I am working with leaves and copper, I am beginning a conversation. At first, it is a conversation between me & a tree, or me & its leaves. What did this tree have to say? This leaf? These leaves together? How does shape relate on a branch, and then on my canvas of copper? Working with simple materials, with found objects, and with tools from my family I feel a connection with the world around me, a connection with the craftsmanship I learned growing up in rural South Carolina.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

unique about your work: During the recent pandemic, I lost my brick-and-mortar studio space. My response was to convert to a mobile studio. My vision is to work & travel to gardens & wild spaces, enabling me to create work "in-situ." Working in a small space focuses one’s attention, and having a studio that can travel with me gives me a unique opportunity as an artist to demonstrate my process and engage the public. It allows me to work in places that may not have the essential tools a copper smith requires.