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Metal Artisan Kevin Sullivan

Author: Susan Regan
Issue: September, 2012, Page 26
Photos by Garrett Cook

Artist Kevin Sullivan poses beneath one of his steel works, a curved, custom-built light fixture suspended over a bar. It is crafted of steel and mica and includes interior illumination.

the limitless design possibilities of steel take artisan KEvin SulLivan from one-man show to full-time team

You may think of steel as merely a building material, but Kevin Sullivan would beg to differ. His exuberance for the metal is infectious, and his passion for metalworking is evident. He says he marvels at the nearly limitless design possibilities that steel offers, listing gates, chandeliers, fireplace screens, fire pits and range hoods as just a few of the options.

Sullivan grew up in Nebraska, where his father always had a project or two in the works, and tools were in abundance at his childhood home. This experience resulted in a “can-do” approach that he has carried with him throughout his life.

In 1986, the artisan moved to Phoenix and worked in the insurance industry. About 15 years ago, he wanted to add some metal pieces to his house but was unable to find a craftsman who could fabricate what he had in mind. So, Sullivan researched metalworking techniques and tools, bought the necessary equipment, and taught himself how to weld and shape steel.

This outdoor unit by Sullivan includes a fireplace, chimney and concealed media center. It is made of steel channel plates and beams, complete with a rusted finish.
While some people might have been deterred by the intense heat and brute force needed to form the metal, Sullivan was captivated. “I remember thinking, ‘I’ve already made a mess of the garage, I might as well keep doing it,’” he quips.

Architects and interior designers started taking notice of his creations, and a few years later, Sullivan began manufacturing steel pieces for residential and commercial projects full-time. Today, his Phoenix-based company, Steel & Stone, employs a team of craftsmen who make items with a decidedly Southwestern flair. “We do the full gamut,” Sullivan states. Designs range from a 2,500-bottle wine-storage system, to a woven-steel vanity that has the appearance of copper, to a pair of sconces with a matching mirror featuring hand-stitched rawhide detailing.

Sullivan says one of the things he enjoys most about the nature of steel is how well it lends itself to becoming a tangible finished product. “To take a couple of strands of steel, make a light fixture, and have someone tell you it is their favorite thing in the house is awesome.”

Left: Scraped logs banded together with steel straps act as a single post to support a section of a roof. Kevin Sullivan and his team created the straps, which are edged with cable detailing. Right: The tips of this metal sconce mimic elements of historic tepee dwellings used by various Native American tribes. Made of a combination of steel rods and reclaimed perforated-steel sheets, the piece is one of a set illuminating the entryway of a home.

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