The small rose gleamed in the mid-morning sun. Each petal perfectly curved around the next.
But look closer. This is no ordinary rose.
This rose is made of spoons.
Paul Krause doesn’t consider himself an artist.
The Arlington man, along with his wife, Cher, and their three children, create unique pieces for lawns and gardens made from recycled silverware, old dishes and car parts to sell at craft shows.
“To me, it’s surprising what I do interests people that much,” he said. “To me, it’s just welding silverware together or car parts. I have a look that I’m going for, but I don’t know. It still shocks me that people call it art. It’s a good feeling that people appreciate it that much.”
Pieces range from frogs to butterflies and dragonflies to tractors. Items made out of car parts, like old spark plugs.
“That’s pretty easy to get a bunch of those pretty quickly,” said Krause, who works as a mechanic at Countryside Repair in Arlington.
Others are made from old piston pins, connecting rods and differential gears.
“I’ve kind of hoarded stuff for a while and now that I’ve realized I could do something with the stuff, I can’t seem to throw anything away that might have some value like that,” he said.
But Krause’s specialty is his flowers made of spoons, forks and old plates.
“The flowers — the roses and sunflowers — seem to be a big hit,” Krause said. “We’ve got some new ones that we just put into the rotation here in the last month or two that seem to be selling. We’re excited about that.”
Krause hadn’t intended for his projects to become the side business — Metal Works by Paul — that it is today. He started making things after Cher saw some pictures of metal frogs in a catalog.
“They were made out of old car parts that I always had laying around so we started making those,” Krause said. “She started seeing pictures on Pinterest and would show me pictures and say, ‘Here, can you make this?’”
Even then, Krause wasn’t selling them. He gave a few for Mother’s Day and birthday gifts. He also donated some for a church fundraiser.
“Eventually, we thought maybe we could start making some side money with this,” Krause said. “It’s kind of morphed into what it is today.”
Krause first began selling his works at swap meets, but soon realized it wasn’t the right crowd.
“Car guys look at stuff and go, ‘Oh, I can make that,’” he said.
Now, the Krauses travel to various craft shows.
“We’re trying to hit two a month,” Paul said.
“Right now, we have five between May and the end of July and then the fall is a really busy time because there are craft shows everywhere,” Cher added.
They also sell items on consignment at stores in Fremont, Randolph and Eaton, Colo.
Keeping the supply up with the demand can sometimes be a challenge. It can take anywhere between 20 and 45 minutes to create a new piece once everything is set up to build, Paul said.
“There’s a lot of setup that goes with it and I’ve been trying to improve my assembly line-type process to where I can build them a little quicker,” he said. “It seems like when we go to shows there’s a lot of times if it’s a close show I’ll be going home in the middle of the day to try to make more because we sell out of one thing in particular so quickly.”
Metal Works by Paul is also a family affair. Each one of the Krauses’ three daughters — Erin, Emma and Elly — help out with the business.
“They all have jobs,” he said. “One of them is really good with the pictures. One of them, she’ll engrave the numbers and the logo on the back of our flowers. The other one is good at helping organizing and just getting stuff done. It’s a lot of fun putting them to work and actually being able to pay them off of it.”
Krause’s designs are unique and — in some cases — one of a kind.
Paul and Cher get their supply of silverware and dishes from Goodwill and other thrift stores. Some people also drop off or buy silverware to trade for a completed project.
“It’s really hard to reproduce anything twice because everything is so different,” Cher said. “Each piece of silverware is different.”
“That’s a challenge sometimes,” Paul said. “When someone sees something that someone is walking away with or saw something that we sold already and making the same piece or finding something that will make them happy.”
Paul and Cher sometimes differ on the designs.
“We argue constantly about how this should look, how it should be,” Paul joked, “but it always seems to come out in the end. Sometimes we’ll let people vote at the shows. I’ll make one this way and one this way because that’s the way she wants one and that’s the way I want one or I’ll make two of each and we’ll see which one sells out first. That’s a lot of fun seeing what actually works and who was right.
So far it’s been a lot of give and take. It’s fun trying to figure out what people will want and she seems to have a better handle on it than I do.”
“He definitely has a way of seeing things differently than other people — what will work and what won’t work,” Cher added. “If pieces will go together and stuff.”