This write-up about the quiet, unassuming man who crafts bangles and bracelets made of copper is long overdue, but like the subject himself of this article, it had remained in the background all this time, waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself. That moment has come now.
Indeed, Israel DeHerrera did not get to where he is today overnight. His copper work on display in a central area of the Golden Crown premises looks simple enough. With their minimalist lines, contours, patterns, and shades, they are products of a craft Israel first learned in 1996. Back then, he was an apprentice to his father who always appeared to be talented with his hands in artmaking.
As a teenager working alongside his dad, Israel always had just one job to do: cut the copper--a small thing to do, considering that there were usually so many more steps after his task, which his father undertook by himself. He had repeated his individual assignment and observed his father often enough that sheer rote and muscle memory had set in to help him complete a piece from beginning to end on his own. And with that groundwork, he has also learned to innovate on designs never before tried by his dad. Any twisted bangles you find on the glass counter are his own inventions.
Listening to the process alone could tire anyone: a lot of smashing, torching, grinding, twisting, and more is what it takes to achieve the quiet elegance of each bangle. According to Israel, it is actually dangerous work because copper pieces could fly at you unexpectedly and injure you at any time or toxic fumes could overwhelm your lungs, which is why he has all the devices and equipment to work as safely as possible. Even so, Israel is in it because he really likes the work, granted that he hadn't consistently indulged in it from when he learned the craft more than twenty years ago.
While he had also tried working with aluminum, he remains much more faithfully with copper because of its hardness and the colors it produces, once he applies heat to it. It is also an affordable metal compared to others in the market. Though in his dad's active years, he had created so much more than just bangles and bracelets with copper, e.g., crosses, Israel is satisfied with sticking to just jewelry designs because they don't take too long to make and he has an opportunity to play around to see what happens with his experiments. As with most art, Israel's bangles can sometimes be the results of happy accidents.
It pleases Israel no end when he encounters people wearing his pieces and he hopes they can keep on patronizing his work. He wants the focus to be on his products, so he even declined to be photographed for this article. But clearly, the maker and his story are just as compelling a reason to drop by Golden Crown soon and buy a bangle or six for yourself, and your family and friends.