BATTLE GROUND — Battle Ground resident Jennifer Strassel has gotten used to working at some pretty intense jobs over the past several years, including skippering as a fisherman and working as a welder in a shipyard in Ketchikan, Alaska. After all that, she didn’t quite expect to one day be making steel art and owning her own business.
However, that’s exactly what the 29-year-old decided to pour her heart and soul into after losing her job in Alaska.
“My little brother was going to school up in Alaska for welding and one day he brought home a metal project they had to do of the state of Alaska,” said Gabe Myall, Strassel’s business partner and boyfriend. “Jen put it online to try and sell it for him for 100 bucks, and it sold within like five minutes.”
“Then I went and made a fish, and people wanted it,” Strassel said. “Then I made a crab and people wanted it. Then an octopus, and it all just started growing.”
Strassel decided steel art was something she could make into a full-time business, and came up with the name Pirate Metal Works.
“I thought Pirate Metal Works was perfect for the name, because I want to be like a place for the misfits,” Strassel said. “A lot of really good welders are misfits. I want to be the company that gives people a chance. One of my customers, someone I had never meant, paid for my first month rent on this shop. I want to give back to people like that.”
Strassel and Myall have been producing their steel works of art in a small shop space in Battle Ground for about the past month. At the end of January, Pirate Metal Works became an official Limited Liability Company in the state of Washington, something Strassel was ecstatic about.
“It’s been a learning process,” Strassel said. “I’m learning, there’s really no guidebook to this and no one else really does metal work the way I do it, the same process as me. I started my first project for this business with this torch, a grinder and an $80 sheet of steel. I’m learning from experience.”
Myall said that when the two first started making some of the steel art before coming to Battle Ground, they were doing the work in a little carport.
“We knew the basics of what we were trying to do,” Myall said. “We were working in a small carport though, it was basically kind of a Neanderthal way of doing it.”
All of the steel art pieces created and put together by Strassel and Myall are hand-cut custom pieces, and Strassel can pretty much craft anything a customer asks for. Customers can use their imagination from concept to finished pieces, colors, animals, signage, wall art, favorite sports team, gifts, etc. Some pieces created by Pirate Metals Works include dragons, halibut fish, a hummingbird, elephant head, a duck, a San Francisco 49ers logo, a Seattle Seahawks logo and many more.
Pirate Metals Works has currently been getting most of its customers by posting on different sale sites such as Etsy among others. The company will also ship finished pieces anywhere; they have had ones shipped back to Alaska, to a casino hotel in Las Vegas and numerous other places around the country.
“The customers are amazing,” Strassel said. “I also love all of the other business owners around here. I’ve been working a lot, we work all the time, cutting, grinding, painting. I love it.”
Anyone wishing to talk with Strassel about a potential steel art project can call her at (360) 739-5561. Visit the Pirate Metal Works Facebook page as well, and soon interested customers will be able to visit their website, https://www.piratemetalworks.org/. The website is still currently under construction.