We are a very blessed 4 generation family nestled on the plains of Western Nebraska in the heart of wheat country.
We were all raised to work hard for what you want. I was raised in Kimball where is was very active in 4-H and FFA. Byron was raised 12 miles Northwest of town on the farm that we still live on now. Byron and I were high school sweet hearts and got married as soon as I got out of high school.
We farm, have cow/calf operation, feedlot, 3W Livestock Equipment welding business, Krystal and I sell and promote Le-Vel wellness products (Thrive) as well as AW Laser Art. So in a nutshell we are workaholics that love what we do.
I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mom and farm wife until Dustin (son) and Krystal (daughter) were in Jr High. During that time I had a very successful sewing business and raised show lambs with a flock of over 400 head of ewes at one time. Then I worked in town for the local CO-OP for a little over 5 years. I then had the opportunity to move into an accounts payable job with Clean Harbors for just short of 6 years. During that time Dustin went to college in Milford NE for a Machine Tool and Die degree. He worked in Lincoln Ne for a couple years, but you just cant take the county out of a farm boy, so he moved back to Kimball. He worked in a machine shop in town for a while, than was a mechanic for a while before making the move back out here to work with his Dad and Grandpa. We are so lucky to have him. He can work on anything and now manages our welding business shops. He married Jenifer and is now a Dad himself to our red headed grandson Dean. (aka the boss) Jenifer works hard at being an amazing stay at home mom, runs for parts, helps clean and helps with our parents anytime we need her. Krystal graduated from LCCC in Cheyenne Wyoming and then moved on to UW in Laramie. She graduated with degrees in Agriculture Education and Animal Science. She got an Agriculture Education and FFA Advisor position at Morrill Public Schools right out of college. We are lucky to have her so close to home. She lives in Gering about 45 miles from us, so she comes down on weekend and the summer to help with the welding business and farming. She married Brian a few years back. He works at the hospital in Scottsbluff, on the Gering volunteer fire department and helps out at Darnell Feedlot when time allows. He loves to fish and hunt with Grandpa Story. Seems like anytime we get him talked into coming down we put him to work cutting down trees or anything else the guys wont help us with.
We are very lucky to also have both sets of our parents live here close. Byron’s Mom and Dad live here on the home place in the same yard as us. My Mom and Dad live in Kimball just 12 miles away. Not many people are blessed enough to have 4 generations together on a regular basis and we try very hard to not take that for granted.
The Family That Creates Toghether Stays Together.
Creativity certainly runs deep in my family, we all just chose our own medium. It all started when I was little watching my dad create these huge redwood signs for people This was before the time of fancy computers and programable machines. His tools consisted of a small one car garage converted into a wood shop, a couple saws, hand held router, paint brushes, a few sets of stencils for letting and Mom’s encouragement and salesmanship. He used to hand draw, hand space every letter, then rout, paint, and finish to perfections signs of all shapes and sizes. There are a lot of them still around. Even our wedding present of a 8×8 foot redwood sign that still stands at the end of our driveway. Then when he decided the sign business was turning into more work than fun he phased it out. About the time, I left home he started teaching himself how to wood carve western figurines, while waiting for fuel to offload from his truck. His work is amazing!
After several years of just carving for himself and us kids, Mom started pushing him to show off his work at wood carving shows and competitions. He was so reluctant to do that. He had been to craft shows with us girls for years while I had my sewing business Kites-N-Things and hated the idea steeling, competitive attitude that we faced at them. But the woodcarving crowd was an entirely different atmosphere. They were always sharing ideas and teaching each other new things. Being the only girl and loving to get away with my folks for a few days at a time, I started tagging along and helping the drive and haul totes for his shows. Mom was the table designer, idea maker and his biggest cheerleader.
I quickly found myself sitting in these huge rooms being the youngest by at least 20 years with nothing to do but visit with people. I just could not get the concept of taking a piece of blank wood, carving pieces out of it to make a cowboy, horse, dog or many of the other items he created. But one couple watched me at a couple shows and soon had me learning how to weave pine needles. I was hooked from day one. I couldn’t get enough of them. My creative juices were flowing out of the banks. I couldn’t wait to get home from the office everyday so I could work on another project. Soon I was competing at the same shows as dad and doing very well. That turned into a few orders here and there, then AW Prairie Art was formed.
I was so excited. Mom and Dad would go with me to a few craft shows where I would put up to 50 hours of work in certain pieces and cell for way less than they were worth. It would take me months to make enough items to fill 2 tables in a 10×10 booth. So I added a little bit of wood burning projects, but found it hard to find a place to work on them without stinking up the entire house.
A year or so later while on a panel hauling trip with my Husband I have a half finished pine needle bowl laying on the dash of the pickup when we pulled into a feedlot we were helping rebuild. The owner told me he had a 50 gallon trash can of old used lariat ropes he would just give me if I could do something creative with them. I soon found out that the 50+ ropes he sent home were all Hard or extra Hard ropes, which meant they were like working with cable. So the self-teaching began again.
With a ton of research, I figured out to find soft and medium ropes to work with. The timing was perfect. Krystal was going to college in Laramie, which meant I had easy access to cheep used ropes of all colors. Then as my projects grew and my need increased, I found a few families within in a 100 mile radius that had tons of used ropes for sale or trade.
While I was growing AW Prairie Art on the weekends and evenings I was still working in the corporate accounting world 50-60 hours a week. Then the unthinkable started to take place. My hands started telling me to slow down. I couldn’t. LOL I was addicted.
After 2 back to back hand surgeries within 6 weeks I had to give up on the pine needle art and slow down on the rope work. I knew eventually I would be able to leave my town job to be home full time so I started a 2 year long research on Lasers. Remembering back to my sewing days, if you are going to do something with equipment everyday you buy the best you can afford.
The stars aligned in January of 2015 and I was able to leave the corporate world and come back home to work full time for the family businesses and start AW Laser Art. I was so proud of myself. I loaded Krystal up as soon as she got out of college for the summer and we headed out to find just the right laser. Because of price and not really knowing what I was getting myself into we got the smallest one they offered. It still cost about 15 times more than the vehicle I was driving. My husband thought I was out of my mind but supported me anyway.
I started with only working on wood. That was what I know how to do. Here I was at 45 trying to teach myself how to run fancy computerized equipment, a graphics design program and make payments. It was sink or swim. Well, I swam as fast and hard as I could. The wood quickly moved into glass and the local Pheasants Forever chapter took a chance and had me do 30+ cases of glassware. My family all about died when I ordered my first pallet of glassware.
Wedding orders started flooding in and I was off and running. Since those crazy leaps of faith I have hustled and worked to learn everything I can every day to improve what we do. I have a customer base that has grown from coast to coast, a second larger laser, and our full color sublimations line.
I once had a boss tell me if you want something done, give it to the busiest person you can find. Well I stay as busy as I can stand. I love working with my customers from the first idea to the final project. It has been fun to now have Krystal adding her new creative vibe to the Jewelry and Sublimation line when she is not helping her Dad, Teaching, having a FFA program, and taking classes towards her Masters degree. Creativity certainly runs in our blood.
How do we make our stuff?
We combine the use of our two different sized lasers to create anything from a keychain to signs up to 18×24” The laser can cut and engrave a huge amount of different mediums with endless possibilities. Each having a permanent design that will not wear off with use.
We do all our own powder coating on all our stainless steel drinkware with automotive powder coat to give a very durable finish in several different textures and endless number of colors. We are now at over 90 colors in stock and growing.
Our true repurposed line. Everything from the used ropes them selves to the vases and lamps we wrap have a story of their own and come back to life in a new form. All our rope projects are melted together for strength and to allow you to be able to wash them and use them.
is the method of applying an image to specially coated ceramics, metals and polyester cloth, using three main ingredients: sublimation ink, heat and pressure. This allows us to put a full color photo or design on a huge number of products for a permanent usable piece.
With the combination of our lasers and the sublimation along with Krystals love of jewelry and creativity she has designed an entire time of ear rings and necklaces that call all be customized to suit your style.
Trademarks, Images, Photos and Logos
Out of respect for the original artist and copy right laws we do NOT do any trademarked logos or sports teams without written permission. We are officially licensed do University of Wyoming items.