published : 2023-09-23
'Gargantuan' Butcher-Block Wavy Flag: A Quarter-Ton Testament to the Power of Patriotism
Metal Art of Wisconsin: From Father-Son Project to Economic Engine
Wisconsin-based Shane Henderson and his son, Justis Henderson, share their patriotism through their artwork — with a special eye on giving back to America's military and veterans.
A simple father-son project that started a decade ago has grown into a thriving all-American business as solid as U.S. steel and as reliable as heartland hardwood.
Shane Henderson, president of Metal Art of Wisconsin in Manitowoc, credits patriots from coast to coast for lifting the fortunes of his family and helping them provide employment, opportunity, and security for people in their local communities.
"It’s the power of patriotism," Henderson told in an interview.
Metal Art of Wisconsin just completed its most ambitious project to date: a giant 10-foot-long, 500-pound, $5,000 butcher block flag that appears to be rippling in the breeze.
The company dubs it the "The Gargantuan" — and claims it is "the world’s largest butcher block wavy flag."
"This is an insane project," said Henderson. "This is the biggest thing my team has done. Nothing close to this."
It was handcrafted and completed this week upon a special order from a former Los Angeles Fire Department captain.
The gargantuan butcher-block wavy American flag is made of 13 alternating stripes of dark cherry and light maple. The cherry union was inlaid by hand with 50 maplewood stars.
The wood is three inches thick.
It was sanded and finished by hand to create the rippling effect of a fabric ensign of amber waves of grain blowing in the breeze.
"It’s a symphony of patriotism and unparalleled craftsmanship that will leave you breathless," the company said in a statement.
The timber Old Glory helps mark the 10-year anniversary of the company that began with a simple project to pay homage to America and boost family bonds.
Henderson was working a 9-to-5 "cubicle job" in machine sales in 2013 when he and his son, Justice, agreed to spend more time together beyond the baseball field.
Armed with a sheet of steel and a plasma table, they cut the metal into the form of a tattered, bullet-torn American flag.
The Hendersons polished and painted the piece by hand.
The final product shined with unexpected drama despite — or perhaps because of — its battle scars.
Henderson posted a picture of the project on Instagram. The powerful piece inspired a visceral reaction — and the post went viral.
Metal Art of Wisconsin was soon a real business.
Henderson and his wife Tammy quit their jobs to battle 24 hours a day as American entrepreneurs.
They learned their business by trial and error. They credit Progress Lakeshore, the local economic development agency, for offering classes and guidance that boosted the Hendersons' business acumen.
Metal Art of Wisconsin's first product was its Tattered Old Glory, first made as a father-son project by Shane Henderson and Justice Henderson in 2013.
Their post on Instagram went viral and inspired the family to launch its patriotic business. Tattered Old Glory is still one of their most popular products.
Metal Art of Wisconsin is thriving today, with its own production facility in Manitowoc, employing up to 30 people in peak season and boosting the local economy by securing equipment and resources for its own needs.
Wood for their products, including The Gargantuan butcher-block flag, comes from Amish growers across the state in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Given the Amish growers’ dedication to traditional culture, Henderson’s entire business relationship with "Melvin the wood guy" is conducted face to face or via the U.S. Postal Service.
"Everything comes from Wisconsin," said the flagmaker. "This is truly an American-made product."
Metal Art of Wisconsin sells its original dramatic steel tattered flag, smaller versions of its custom-made 500-pound gargantuan butcher-block flag, and an array of other products, including patriotically themed concealment cabinets.
Henderson credits faith in the nation, his desire to grow his relationship with his son, and the enthusiastic support of ordinary Americans who stand for the flag for proving to his family that the United States remains the land of opportunity.
"I was raised right by blue-collar parents who worked for everything they had," said the Wisconsin entrepreneur.
"I was fortunate enough to strike gold here and live the American dream with my son by my side," he said.
"That’s what it’s all about to me. The American dream."