The NASE Gives $15,000 Achievement Award to Members


The NASE Gives $15,000 Achievement Award to Members

The NASE Gives $15,000 Achievement Award to Members

Artist-Blacksmiths Receive Sixth Annual Award

By Molly Nelson

For many people, a job description of “blacksmith” conjures up the image of an early American in a heavy apron making sure the town’s horses are properly shod.

However, there are no horseshoes to be found at Wallace Metal Works, LLC, in Charleston, W. Va. Instead, company owners and NASE Members Tessie and Matt Wallace are artist blacksmiths who create hand-forged decorative and architectural wrought iron—much more complicated than just making horseshoes!

Like other blacksmiths across the nation and the world, they are working to keep this traditional art alive.

Using a hammer and forge, the Wallaces design and create one-of-a-kind wrought iron items, such as furniture, fire screens, and other home and garden accents, using traditional methods.

Matt Wallace started Wallace Metal Works in 2000, and Tessie took over as owner in 2009. The husband and wife team believe that the family ownership of their business is what ensures the high quality of Wallace Metal Works’ designs and products.

In need of a replacement for the unwieldy, 1960s-era drill press in their shop, the Wallace’s applied for and received a $3,000 Growth Grant® from the NASE in May 2011. Their grant was part of $650,000 in grants awarded by the NASE since 2006.

They used the funds to purchase a new drill press for their business. The new drill press increased the business’s efficiency and allowed for the creation of additional designs for their ornament line that would not have been possible with the old drill. Tessie and Matt were able to double their ornament sales from 2010 to 2011 thanks to the drill. Additionally, the drill helped the Wallaces significantly expand their ornament line for craft shows in neighboring states in 2012.

Acknowledging the business growth that resulted from Tessie and Matt putting their grant to use and supporting the rare art of blacksmithing, the NASE awarded Wallace Metal Works with the $15,000 Achievement Award.

An Old Business Growing in New Ways

The ornament line began in 2008 when Tessie and Matt wanted to make something that they could sell to a larger audience through their online store. The ornament line launched with two designs, and with the introduction of a new design each year (and one special edition ornament) has expanded to seven designs.

Wallace Metal Works recently launched a line of decorative metal bowls that are also being sold on the business’s website. A bowl in the shape of Matt and Tessie’s home state of West Virginia is already available, and they’re working on other state-shaped bowls to be sold online and at upcoming craft shows.

Moving Forward

NASE President Kristie L. Arslan awarded Tessie and Matt with a $15,000 check in recognition of the award.

“You and your business are symbolic of this country’s small-business owners and the work they are doing each day in their communities,” Arslan said. “We’re glad to lend a supporting hand to your business as you grow.”

The Wallaces have already started putting the award funds to use to continue growing their business.

Matt and Tessie had a new water line installed in their studio, and plan to purchase a larger forge—two improvements that will make their work easier and more efficient. They also plan to continue introducing their business to new audiences by attending more craft shows across the country and pursuing other marketing efforts.

As their business continues to grow, the Wallaces have a goal of starting an apprenticeship program to pass on what they know to younger students.

“This award couldn’t have come at a better time for our business,” Tessie said. “We love what we do, and we’re so excited about more opportunities to share what we’re doing with others.”

Molly Nelson is the NASE’s Member Communications Manager.

Apply for an NASE Growth Grant™

Need working capital for your micro-business? Apply for an NASE Growth Grant worth up to $5,000.

To be eligible, you must be an NASE Member in good standing and provide detailed documentation about your business.

Get all the information you need to apply at

The NASE Gives $15,000 Achievement Award to Members

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