After a decorated 27-year career in broadcast news, Heather Unruh pivoted in 2016 to pursue her passion for coppersmithing. After summering on Nantucket for more than 45 years, she moved here year round in 2019 and now works full time as an island artist. Best known for her handmade copper whales, crustaceans, octopi and Nantucket Island sculptural designs, Heather loves creating all creatures found on Nantucket and in her surrounding waters. Her process is unique, multi layered, time and labor intensive and requires great physical strength. The result is a one-of-a-kind detailed, authentic, weathered looking copper sculpture which can be adorned either inside homes or out.
I am inspired by Nantucket Island’s coastal beauty and abundant marine life. I love creating original copper sculpture designs that reflect what makes Nantucket unforgettable. From the shape of our beautiful island to the treasures found on her sandy shores and in her surrounding waters, I find myself constantly wandering in awe and excited to express what I have just seen. My artwork has been a source of healing. It is an immersive experience that carried me through some challenging times following my career change and personal losses. It is also a deep connection to my past. The daughter of an artist Mother and a woodworking Father, my creative path began a few years after his death when I was cleaning out his workshop. I discovered the patterns that Mom had drawn for Dad to create his wooden whales and fish. I felt a calling to carry on what they had started but in a new medium, I chose copper. I love copper for its unique patination and physical properties that allow me to manipulate pieces into multidimensional works of art. Copper becomes my canvas, as I hammer in characteristic details and then layer on oxidizing agents, which give each piece an original and authentic patina. It is a balance of art and science. My hope is that my copper pieces will forever spark happy memories of your travels 30 miles out to sea.