Monroe County couple creates intricate works of art

From Missouri Highway 154, drivers can see colorful decorative metal windmills rapidly turning in the often-windy conditions.

The metal art is the creation of Bonnie Heinecke, who designs art in the cluttered office of Heinecke Welding just outside of Paris, near Mark Twain Country Club.

Heinecke Welding was started by her husband, Paul, in 2000. The company handles projects area farmers, oil field companies in Texas and a number of regional agriculture and industrial customers.

The company crafts specific components and then ships to customers.

“We have customers in 48 states,” Paul said.

Bonnie’s art business came about after a job Paul was performing in 2004 for a Land O Lakes facility located in the St. Louis area. He hired a company to create specific shapes for the welding.

“By the time we finished, I realized that we had paid as much as a new machine would cost … so we bought one,” he said.

Bonnie soon had the idea to design and create metal art with the machine.

“I just thought that I could contribute something, she said. “So I wanted to create this business.”

And a new venture was launched with an idea of what would sell and no business plan, though not without from skepticism from Paul.

“He told me that would not sell anything,” Bonnie said.

Paul grinned. “Yes, I did say that” he said.

Bonnie set about creating her first set of metal art, and became a vendor at an annual craft show in Paris.

“I sold $2,000 that weekend,” Bonnie said. “Paul then said, we should buy a trailer and go to more craft shows.”

She and her three employees create windmills, cutouts of autos, art depicting agriculture and ranching, patriotic pieces and dozens of other designs.

As she gives tour of the warehouse-like building that houses her the art production facility, Bonnie points to machine that the company has purchased and to some that Paul has designed.

The company has a custom paint facility and oven, and has even devised a multi-level storage system complete with a lift designed in house.

More than 30 weekends year, she packs a large trailer with her art and drives to craft shows around the country, ranging from New England to the Midwest and Far West. She sells thousands of pieces a year.

Meanwhile, the display of windmills along Highway 154 often attracts motorists to stop.

“We are not open on Saturdays, but when I am working, it is not unusual for people to come up and ask me about the work,” Paul said.