Oxidized copper is prized in Japan as a natural paint pigment for its unique tint of bluish green. Now artists willing to pay the price will be able to dip their brushes in an especially precious palette paints made from the oxidized copper roofing of the imperial palace.
Palace officials are now selling scrapped roof panels covered with naturally oxidized copper to artists after hearing that a potter was interested in buying the material for use as a paint pigment, Imperial Household Agency spokesman Tsukasa Kobari said Tuesday.
"We learned that naturally oxidized copper is a valuable material," Kobari said. "So we are inquiring with artist associations to see if anyone else is interested in using them, rather than handing them to scrap venders."
The agency has about 17 tons of scrapped copper roofing from the imperial resort of Nasu in central Japan and the "Chilly Fragrance Pavilion" of Tokyo's palace, which Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko use for plum viewing and other outings.
The potter, whose name was not released, is offering to buy 500 kgs (1,100 lbs) of scrapped roof panels encrusted the green copper rust, Kobari said. A copper roof panel usually fetches about ¥280 (US$2.5; 1.99) per kilogram (2.2 lbs).
Palace officials expect another 22 tons of unused copper roofing to be generated when three palace buildings undergo planned renovations to strengthen them against earthquakes. Proceeds from the sales will go to government coffers.