We have some very talented Missouri crafters that create amazing pieces for our showroom floor! Unfortunately, our crafters cannot be in the store each week to meet our customers and demonstrate their individual talents. However, we would still like you to meet them and see the unique talents and creative processes they use to build their crafts. Join us here each month as we highlight one of our crafters and tell his or her story!
Meet Jenn Van Booven of Van Booven Creations
When asking Jenn Van Booven how she got started creating metal signs, she says, “I get asked all the time, ‘How did you get into doing metal?’ It just kind of happened!” Jenn and her husband, Justin, originally bought their CNC (computer numerical control) plasma cutting table to help with their heating and cooling business. Justin primarily used it to cut HVAC ductwork, however he knew the system was capable of much more. “It seemed everywhere we went, my husband would point out metal signs, gates, decor, etc., and say ‘We can make that with our machine!’” So, to get started, Jenn and Justin made a few things for themselves. Those items sparked the interest of their friends, and they started designing a few things for their friends.
As Jenn got a bit more comfortable with her design work, she began helping Junk Love Boutique back in 2016 on some custom metal order issues they were having. Ideas started flying, one project led to another, and Jenn turned her hobby into a business – Van Booven Creations! Early on, Jenn and Justin used their free time on the weekends to cut the metal, and Jenn would complete the finishing process in the evenings or on her days off from her full-time job.
Today, Van Booven Creations has become so busy that Jenn has since quit her day job and is now doing metal work full-time, completing the entire metal work process on her own. Even though he is now only secondarily involved, Jenn gives her husband credit where it is due, “Of course, my husband is always there to help. He gets all the credit for me being able to do this. He even built our own paint booth and oven from scratch!”
On the process of design, Jenn tell us, “Much of the process of making a sign is actually done on the computer, which I can do from the comfort of my home.” Every sign starts with a concept or an idea. The computer program allows Jenn to create anything she can dream of, including the use of a picture as a base for the design. There are many things that require close attention during the design process. Jenn must be very detail-oriented in the placement and balance of a design. She edits every letter and image to make sure they will look perfect when the plasma cutter goes to work. Once the design is edited, it is converted to a “cut path”. The plasma torch will automatically follow the cut path shown on the computer.
There are many settings and variables to be considered depending on what type of metal is being used.The metal used for home decor signs like the ones you will find at Winding Road Gifts + Interiors is of a 14 gauge thickness and starts out in 5 ft x 10 ft sheets. “They are HEAVY! And yes, I can man-handle it onto the table myself thanks to my husband rigging up a turn table for me,” Jenn says. Once the plasma table (located at her husband’s business) cuts the signs, Jenn loads them up and brings them back to their home shop for the finishing process.
The finishing process has several steps of its own. Jenn says, “I use a wire wheel to the grind front and back of every sign to remove any dross or slag that the heat from the torch creates when it cuts through the metal.” The next step is to wipe down every sign with acetone. Acetone removes any dust and debris from the grinding process, as well as the protective pickle and oil solution that coats the metal to keep it from rusting. If step is not done thoroughly, paint will not stick to the metal. The sign must be clean and dry before it goes on the line up to be painted. When it comes to the actual finishing coat, Jenn tells us, “We powder coat everything to make sure it will last a long time and more resistant to weathering. We hang and spray each sign in our paint booth, which is then moved to our oven to cure the powder coating.”
Van Booven Creations is always working on new designs to keep things fresh. Jenn consistently looks for new ways to use her creative talents, never deviating from the quality work she is known for. We are very happy to sell Jenn’s work at Winding Road and have received many compliments and return customers specifically for pieces from Van Booven Creations. Please be sure to look for Jenn’s creations when you stop in next!