“Making things that have a relative permanence to them is very gratifying,” says Caleb Kullman, founder of Kullman Ironworks. “When I finish a project, I can be confident that my work will last as long as the building that houses it.” Kullman’s interest in blacksmithing began while working as a farrier. Realizing that the heating and shaping of horseshoes was his favorite part of the job, he left the equestrian world and moved into architectural metalwork.
“I really love the forging process—heating steel to temperatures of 1,500- to 2,200-degrees and shaping it with a hammer and anvil,” explains Kullman, who augmented his knowledge of the craft by traveling to Nigeria on a Fulbright scholarship to study the forging techniques of Yoruba blacksmiths. “People have been recycling iron scrap for thousands of years,” he explains. “So it’s possible that the molecules of iron in the steel that we’re using today were in a Crusader’s sword 900 years ago. There’s a continual thread of iron that goes through people’s lives, and we’re just one link in that chain.”
LX: Work approach:
CK: I produce one-of-a-kind architectural metalwork, functional art and sculpture.
LX: Design icons:
CK: Richard Serra’s work is awe-inspiring; and Victor Horta, Hector Guimard and Charles Rennie Mackintosh are some of my favorite architects because they used metalwork so extensively.
LX: Trend you’re excited by:
CK: Now, steel is not just limited to structural applications and railings. It’s being used for things like wall paneling, exterior siding, doors, window trim and furnishings.
LX: Architecture period you find most engaging:
CK:The structures from the heyday of American industry are my favorite. The level of expertise that went into building the Brooklyn Bridge is amazing.
LX: What’s inspiring you now?
CK: I’m designing and prototyping a line of lighting, hardware and other small items. This process encourages a flow of creative energy out of my head and onto paper.