Marin Builders Member, Val Stachowski IN THE NEWSDecember 27, 2022
December 24, 2022
When Greenbrae craftsman Val Stachowski meets with architects, designers and other clients, he’s used to drawing double takes. He’s not who they expect to show up.
Welding his own path, the 24-year-old metal artist and fabricator decided to take a leap of faith in 2017 and start his own business, two years after he started making pieces for himself and others in high school.
From his Novato shop, he’s created outdoor tables and chairs for a Sausalito restaurant, functional art pieces, light fixtures and a big redwood gate on Belvedere Island, finding ways in his work to create beauty out of the simplest of objects. His work can be found at lustdf.com.
Q Where does your crafty side come from?
A When I was 3 years old, my dad had me in the garage on the drill press drilling holes in wood, and that probably set the stage for the rest of my life. I used to always take my toys apart and fiddle with things and try to make them better. It wasn’t until high school that I really started getting into woodworking. I went into metalworking when I went to Hayfork High School. For such a small school — there were 72 kids — they have one of the best shop programs in the state. That’s where I got my introduction to welding and fabrication.
Q How was that?
A I always had a need to improve things, so as soon as I had that welding torch in my hand and I learned how to use it, everything kind of opened up to me. I was ready to do design and build beautiful things. It was a major turnaround for me. Learning how to work with my hands was a super creative and healthy outlet for all the energy I had that wasn’t going to any good use.
Q Does the permanence of your work play a part?
A That’s what gets me out of the bed in the morning, that’s the drive, a little bit of legacy mixed in with people appreciating something beautiful that we have created.
Q What drew you to metal?
A I got pretty proficient at woodworking, but I soon found my limits with woods. Metal allows you to have both form and function in many different ways than you could achieve with anything else. It’s such a versatile material. A metal artist I like once said, “Metal is clay.” It takes a lot more time to work with, but in the end, you can make some beautiful things. A metal artist I like once said, “Metal is clay.” It takes a lot more time to work with, but in the end, you can make some beautiful things. I’ve found holding that idea helps myself and my employees achieve things that were previously thought to be impossible through metal.
Q How do you feel about doing this at a young age?
A My dad always told me, “If you can read, you can do anything.” He never put any limitations on what I could do. I always had that in the back of my head. A lot of my life has been figuring out ways to not do things inefficiently, and I didn’t think it would be efficient for me to go into an apprenticeship, work through the ranks until maybe someday I have enough money to start my own business. It’s not easy opening a business when you are in your 20s, but it’s been worth it.
Q Do you want people to see metal in a different way?
A A lot of people don’t know what goes into making something that seems simple. There’s been a lot of utilitarian use of metal in the past in everyday life. If I am bringing out the beauty of the metal instead of covering it up with paint or using it as a structure, I hope people will appreciate it and read into it a little more. I have never been indifferent to the way something looks, I have always had an opinion on it. I applaud their creativity and artisanship or I have a criticism on how utilitarian or ugly it is. I think a big part of where our values are is that we want things to be cheap and work instead of being beautiful and functional. That’s a pet peeve of mine. In anything I do, it has to be beautiful, even if it’s a bracket to hold up a ramp. I want that to be designed in a way so that anyone who knows what they are looking at will be like wow, they put some thought into it.
Contact:Valentine Stachowski, Ownerval@lustdf.com, (415) 757-7832
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