Warren Boen: silhouette maker
Those in the market for attractive metal silhouette lawn ornaments need search no further. Warren Boen, owner of Bearings and More on North Jefferson Street in Wadena, has a silhouette inventory all the way from life-sized designs to smaller ones.
You may be looking for the silhouette of a gent leaning against a tree, or from the waist up in a boat. Maybe it is a squirrel sitting on a fence, or a rabbit about to leap into a flower bed. Warren likely already has those patterns among his many designs or he can make them. They can be made for either inside or outside decoration in all colors.
It was not long ago that markets selling the increasingly popular Metal Plasma Art items were miles away. Few individual artisans have a setup for it. Tools, like the plasma cutting table or Computer Numerically Control (CNC) table can easily run into $10,000, $15,000 or more.
After graduating from WDC High School in 1999, Warren's next stop was at Alexandria Technical College in Alexandria. There, he learned tool and die as well as mold-making to become a machinist. He has worked at Alexandria Extrusion Company, and EDM Finishing Department for Imation in Wahpeton. Warren built his own numerically controlled table.
Warren lays out the design on a sheet of metal that can be up to one/half inch thick on the CNC table. The computer controls all functions, torch on, torch off. Plasma uses highly pressurized electricity and inert gas to cut through hard metals. Plasma cutting started during World War II when aircraft production of aircraft body parts.
The cutter is not only fast but versatile. It can go from cutting big pieces, like parts on the body of a plane, to the delicate lacy filigree the silhouette leaves require.
Warren bought the business Bearings And More in 2003 and began taking an active interest in plasma cutting five years ago. Items off Warren's control table are apt to find themselves stuck in the turf of any state in the union.
Tourist trade can be brisk, what with shipping no problem. Nothing that can be bought in the confines of Wadena is purchased elsewhere. For instance, sheets of metal come from Wadena Hide and Fur. A delightful sidelight is the way plasma art stands up to the weather.
Turning out silhouettes is a family affair for the Boens, with Kayla, the distaff half, doing a share of the book work and helping out in general. The next step for the business is powder coating, already in the wings.
When Warren and Kayla came back to Wadena to settle into a business and raise their family it was no surprise. Actually, they are fourth generation Boens to choose Wadena.
Regular items found in the inventory are attractive fire rings, fireplace hearths, signs and railings, as well as awnings. There seems to be no limit to articles on the want-list, like coat hangers, welcome signs, personalized sports equipment, as well as a raft of stuff headed for summer cabins. They also modify signs. Small designs start at $20 and up.
Warren is a natural born "maker." He likes people and making things for them to enjoy.
However, the real payoff in the manufacturing of Metal Plasma Art objects for him, Warren said, is in having what are no more than inanimate thoughts materialize right before his eyes into hard copy.