Kirk L. Williams died of a sudden illness on 1/4/16. Kirk was born in Brooklyn, NY to Patricia Huffman Williams and some dude from France. Very early in their childhoods Kirk and his sister, Trish, were lovingly adopted by their father, Darrell H. Williams. To quote Kirk, “My family members were no strangers to creativity and innovation. I spent the early years of my life absorbing the creative energy that can only come from a household run on modesty, ideas, and values. Our values gave us a need to cobble, clamber, improvise, and pioneer in such a way that the burnishing that comes from hard work made our projects, passions, and visions shine. This environment helped me set the course of my life and, as I continue to heat, form, and shape glass and metal to my desire, I hold in my heart the upbringing that brought me to Vermont.”
Kirk graduated from Austin High and started schooling at Austin Community College. He then graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a bachelor of fine arts in blacksmithing and minors in both glassblowing and jewelry. His metalworking career began building fountains, doing French repousse, and both attending and teaching workshops in a variety of metalsmithing techniques throughout the United States and Mexico. Moving to Vermont in 2001, Kirk was committed to quality design and building in the Northeast. He worked as a lead lighting designer for Conant Custom Brass in Burlington until he founded his own studio, KWDesigns, in 2005. “With heat, hammer, polish, and elbow grease,” he pondered, changed, and rearranged the materials that paved the path for his artwork. He built up years of experience and appreciated his many mentors and collaborators on projects big and small. Kirk also served as a mentor to many, young and old.
His work is known in the region and beyond. Kirk’s work is far too vast to list completely, and has touched many lives throughout the country. Sconces he created hang at Laguna Gloria Contemporary Art Museum in Austin. For those near Burlington, you will recognize the fish fountains on Church Street and by the new skate park as well as red bollard lights that help illuminate the trees on Church Street. A huge red sundial sits beautifully across from the Community Health Center, and more work can be seen at the Veterans Memorial in South Burlington. Kirk’s modern house is a work of art as well.
He will best be remembered by his friends and coworkers as a true southern gentleman and Renaissance man. He was a lover of food, often sharing his most recent culinary creation, be it barbecue from the smoker he built, honey from his bees, or a bit of hard cider. Kirk always took the time to do it right whether with work or relationships.
Kirk is survived by his father, Darrell Williams, his sister, Trish Huddleston, his nephew, Bennett Huddleston, his beloved partner, Amelia Hopkins, the loving extended Huffman family, and a huge number of friends, colleagues, clients, and community members who will miss him dearly. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Southern Illinois University Carbondale Metalsmithing program, Zoe’s Race (Howard Center), the Humane Society of Chittenden County, the Austin Humane Society, or the charity of your choice.