Japanese Cast Zinc Vase with Reddish Bronze Finish (LEO Design)

Zinc is a metal and one of Earth's 118 elements—and useful in many ways.  Combined with other metals, it adds strength, corrosion-resistance or other desirable features to an "alloy." Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc (3%-45%, depending on the variety of brass desired). Zinc is sometimes alloyed with copper and tin to make bronze.  And nickel silver is an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc.  Rolled sheets of zinc are used in roofing or atop the wooden countertops in bars.  And U.S. pennies, since 1984, are principally plated zinc.  In recent years, since the ill effects of lead have become widely-known, zinc has often been used as a replacement for lead (in fishing weights, tire balances and other counterweight/ballast applications).

Zinc is an essential element in the human body.  The metal is used in sunscreen, fungicides, toothpastes (to help eliminate bad breath) and to encourage an appetite in patients with anorexia.  In third world countries, where famine and water borne disease cause widespread diarrhea, zinc has been effective as a treatment

In the decorative arts, zinc has been used for centuries for casting sculptural elements—thanks to zinc's low melting point, its ease of use and its ability to capture fine detail in a mould. When zinc is alloyed with copper, tin or lead, it is called "spelter" or "white metal." When spelter is scratched our gouged, one can see the bright, silvery metal under the finish. Spelter (or zinc) is easier and less expensive to use than bronze—yet provides good, crisp castings.  Bronze, however, will always be heavier, less brittle and longer-lasting. Zinc is sometimes used in artist's paints, especially white.

The zinc vase, shown above, was made in Japan.  The zinc alloy was cast, finished by hand, fired in a kiln, finished by hand, fired again, and finished for a third and final time.  The blackish bronze finish is warmed with a rich red glow.  Click on the photo above to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com)

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248