They turn plain concrete into custom countertops. Discarded shovels become metal sculptures for the garden. Plastic jugs become bicycle handle grips, or perhaps a golden river, winding its way through the surface of a cement coffee table. Meet Dylan McClain and Dalton Bevill, Owners of the new Animas Artisans, a design and fabrication studio in Durango. You’re watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Ute Mountain Casino and the Norm Phillips Team at Draper & Kramer Mortgage. I’m Wendy Graham Settle. Animas Artisan Owners, Dylan McClain and Dalton Bevill, say they’ve always had an artistic bent, but the skills they use to create custom home furnishings out of concrete, wood and steel weren’t developed in art school. McClain, a Durango native, learned welding and fabrication as a mechanical engineer at The Colorado School of Mines. And Bevill grew up on a ranch in Nebraska, where he learned to weld, pour concrete and wield a hammer and saw to construct or repair farm buildings. Both had been experimenting with design and fabrication on their own, then two months ago, they formed Animas Artisans in McClain’s workshop on the Florida Mesa. Their portfolio includes custom vanities made from recycled wood and steel with concrete countertops, and an all-concrete side table, concrete flower pots of all different sizes, and whimsical steel sculptures that could work in or outside the home. They incorporate recycled plastic, processed by their colleague Riley Wanzik, to create colorful insets and even a river of gold on one countertop. Wanzik makes plastic paper towel holders, bicycle handles, even skateboards, by melting down No. 2 recyclable plastic, cooling it in molds, then shaping it with a lathe as if it were a piece of wood. It’s all about cross-collaboration and upcycling trash.
I think since we’ve been together, we’ve really been trying to mix the three mediums, because there’s a lot of advantages when you can combine ’em all. The biggest thing that we’re finding right now is, you can take a concept and… basically go anywhere with it, and you can meet a certain budget and you can design it in certain ways. Like steel, for example, you can weld in certain ways and it’s super strong. And then you can add like a concrete top, so you have this smooth finish.
Animas Artisans furnishings are elegantly simple in their design, and because of their construction they’re built to last. The two are aiming for a mid-range price point, often difficult to accomplish with a custom-built piece of furniture.
It can be, you know, kind of modern. It can be a little bit rustic. It can be a little bit, you know, industrial looking, but it kind of all comes together to be, you know, kind of a higher standard, kind of a fancier product in the end. But we’re also figuring out how to play with all those mediums, to get to those price points for people who want, you know, a handcrafted piece, but maybe they don’t want to spend a thousand dollars. So that’s kind of where it comes to, you know, I can make the frame out of wood and the top out of steel, and that makes it way cheaper than me processing concrete or whatever it may be.
Animus Artisan’s work can be found at the Durango Farmer’s Market, Nature’s Oasis, several local studios and online. After investing in the creation and execution of a project, they admit that parting with a finished work can sometimes be difficult.
It’s really satisfying, but sometimes it’s a little sad because I get a little attached to some of the pieces.
And so you’re like, man, this thing is, like I want to put this in my home, but seeing it go to someone else, and usually seeing the expression on someone else’s face when they take it with them is like, “Okay, this feels really, really good.”
And for us, I mean, it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of failures that lead to that, and while sometimes that’s a pain, I think it’s pretty cool to work through all these mistakes, to end up with a really high quality product at the end.
To see a portfolio of McClain and Bevill’s work, or to visit their workshop to order a custom piece, visit AnimasArtisans.com. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.