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Couple takes craft to a new level

Metal Art & More lives up to name

Staff writer

Doug and Michelle Busenitz of rural Peabody make yard art from metal, an interesting hobby itself, but they also fabricate light switch covers, mailbox decorations, picture frames, and shelves.

It started about 18 months ago when Doug wanted to find a side business. After researching his options, he decided he wanted to do metal art. Being raised a farm boy, Doug always had been around welding.

“It’s something that I always wanted to do,” he said. “We had talked about it for quite a few years.”

By day, Doug is an electrician with Fahnestock Heating and Air Conditioning of Wichita and Michelle runs an in-home day-care center.

In the evenings, the couple is in the shop, manufacturing art décor to be sold at fairs and shows.

It all begins with a four-by-eight-foot sheet of metal. Sometimes he is able to buy scrap metal in the sheets. If not, he buys new.

A design is chosen from a menu in a computer that actually operates the plasma cutter.

Designs also can be scanned and copied to the computer. Doug showed a design of the Busenitz house that was taken from a photograph.

The metal sheet is laid on the table of the plasma cutter. The cutter then follows the pattern as dictated by the computer and a design is cut in the steel.

Although the computer and cutter do the work, Doug has to keep an eye on the work in case there’s a snag. Sometimes the cutter gets “hung up” on a piece of metal which could spoil the design.

“It takes a lot of watching. I can’t start it and then walk away,” he said.

A vent below the table helps to keep the fine dust away from the work and the workers. The computer has to be in close proximity of the cutter but cannot be exposed to the tiny particles of dust and debris. A wooden cabinet with a glass door protects the computer’s hard drive, keyboard, and monitor.

Within just a few minutes, the design is cut. The more intricate the design, the longer it takes, Doug said.

After the design is cut, Michelle uses a grinder to smooth the rough edges.

Some of the art pieces are painted, some are not.

“Some people want the pieces to look rustic,” Michelle said. She explained that if the pieces are not painted, they will rust if left outdoors and in the weather.

From KU and K-State yard art to cowboy-themed shelves to license plates, the couple strives to make as many different things as possible to take to the many shows and markets they attend.

Twenty to 30 different pieces are on display when they go to two craft shows and a flea market each month.

“We try to take something difference each month we go,” Michelle said.

Among the unique items they have made are paper towel holders, mirror frames with deer tracks and antlers or paw prints, and wind chimes. There is no limit.

“Doug comes from a creative family,” Michelle said.

They are excited about being at Marion’s Art in the Park and Craft show, showing their work to local people.

The craft show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Central Park, Marion.

If they don’t have on display what a customer wants, they will have a book with different designs and are willing to take orders.

Last modified Sept. 17, 2008

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