Everett craftsman creates a metal menagerie

  • By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, November 7, 2012 3:52pm
  • LifeEverett

Sparks fly as Andrew Finkel slices through sheet metal with a plasma torch.

It is here, in his Everett workshop, that the creatures come to life: a kingdom of 12-gauge steel dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, whales and sea horses.

Under his command, the animal cutouts are transformed into modern art housewares, from wall hooks and bookends to pet feeders and funky ornaments.

“I like it to be fun and playful,” said Finkel, 38, a metal fabricator by trade. “Theoretically, it is art. Mostly, I just think it’s cute.”

About six tons of steel annually are cut into shapes, powder-coated and sold through his online business, These Creatures. His parents handle the paperwork from Seattle and his sister does the marketing from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Back in Everett, Finkel works under the steady gaze of three rescue pit bulls and a scrappy mutt. His comrades. His inspirations.

He founded These Creatures in 2008 as a sideline to make money to support animal rescue organizations.

“I started making things for pets. It just sort of evolved into colorful cute things that would go nicely in a child’s room or home area,” Finkel said.

“Originally, all the animals were a little silly. Everything had antlers. The French bull dogs were smoking.”

(Of course they smoke. They’re French.)

The company logo is a miniature pinscher with wings. An ornamental squirrel holds a cherry bomb.

The wall hook could hold a dog’s leash and its owner.

“I think we tested about 300 pounds before they started to bend,” Finkel said of the hooks, which sell for $28.

“They are far more durable than they need to be. That’s part of their charm.”

The elevated pet dishes are ergonomically correct, so Fido can dine without back strain. Ditto for Kitty.

Items are glossed in vibrant colors with names such as limesicle, coral, parakeet and charcoal.

Finkel, a Seattle native, grew up fascinated by his grandfather’s machinist tools. “I was always making stuff, whether it was flamethrowers and other dangerous weapons I shouldn’t be building when I was 13,” he said.

He worked summers on the bottling line of the family brewery, Pike Brewing Co.

“I went to art school briefly,” he said. “Very briefly.”

He honed his skills in the nonart world.

“I did store build-outs and designed fixtures,” he said. “I was a general contractor. I owned a pet supply store.”

At heart, he’s a man of steel.

These Creatures is an offshoot of his custom metal-working business, Mansfield Design, specializing in furniture, gates and store fixtures.

He does digital sketches in his studio’s back office. From there, the images are sent to the computerized plasma cutter and other big noisy machines for brushing, grinding, drilling and bending. An Everett company does the powder-coating.

Affordable home prices brought Finkel and his wife, Stefaney, to the bungalow on a dead-end street in Everett about 10 years ago. A wooden gate hides the home/workshop compound from the road.

These Creatures products have been featured in national magazines and blogs, and are sold in shops across America as well as Europe, Japan and Russia.

But to find the creatures in Everett, you first have to find the fenced fortress with the pit bulls, flying sparks and the artist who doesn’t want to be found.

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com.

More in Life

How did 300 feathers get stuck in that old utility pole?

Artful adornment in Everett is the creation of a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Herb Alpert aims to uplift the world in two recent albums

The Tijuana Brass bandleader releases a Christmas record and an album of covers.

Slick new V6 engine, safety updates boost Nissan Pathfinder

The SUV’s extensive redesign boosts towing capacity and adds driver assistance technology.

Prioritizing permanence and putting down roots

Adapted from a recent online discussion. Dear Carolyn: I’m at a loss… Continue reading

Foo Fighters bounce back with new album ‘Concrete and Gold’

Foo Fighters, “Concrete and Gold”: Can you hate the Foo Fighters? Not… Continue reading

Taking a service dog on the trail

Tenley Lozano hikes with her service dog, Elu. They have section-hiked the… Continue reading

‘Fixer Upper’ couple say they’re ending popular HGTV show

Chip and Joanna Gaines says season beginning in November will be the last one.

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Most Read