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A couple of artisans: how a Bothell duo turned an artsy idea into a blossoming business

  • Written by Kirsten Abel, Features Writer

“We couldn’t do this without each other,” said Harla Poage, co-owner of the Bothell-based business Maltby Metal Works. “That’s what Win always says.”

Winslow Poage, or “Win” as Harla calls him, is the other half of Maltby Metal Works. Together, the soon-to-be married couple designs and crafts unique metal and wood home decor items with Pacific Northwest flair.
Their items, all for sale on Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/MaltbyMetalWorks), include large wood and steel wall hangings featuring silhouettes of mountains or trees, brass dog tags, and other smaller home and business accents. 

Circle Metal Many of the items made by Harla and Winslow Poage are inspired by the Pacific Northwest, like this 20-inch “Geometric Mountain Range,” made with steel, wood, and brass. (Photo by Harla Poage)One of their top-selling pieces is their mid-century modern house address number. They run between about $13 and $30, depending on the size and quantity purchased.

While the house numbers are currently cut from steel, the Poages said they will eventually produce them in stainless steel and brass as well.

The company also accepts custom work orders for a variety of projects. One of the most common requests is for indoor and outdoor storefront signs. 

“That’s probably the thing we’d most like to do,” Winslow said. The Poages have created intricate metal and wood lettered signs for stores in Seattle, Bellingham, and even California.

Maltby Metal Works began in 2015 with simple paintings that Harla made on small wood panels.

Harla  WinslowWinslow and Harla Poage, the two owners and creators of Maltby Metal Works, based in Bothell. (Photo by Harla Poage)“I wanted to do something else. I wanted something fun to do,” she said. To her surprise, when she put those first paintings up for sale on Instagram, they sold.

“People started buying them within two weeks,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what a hashtag was.”

Eventually, the couple incorporated metal into their work, a fairly seamless transition due to Winslow’s over 15 years of metalworking experience.

“I worked on old cars,” he said. “It kind of evolved and grew.” Over the last decade and a half, he’s honed his craft while collecting metalworking machinery and other materials.

The Poages use what are called CNC machines to make most of their products. CNC stands for “computer numerical control,” meaning Harla and Winslow can hand-draw a design and then input that design into the machine, which then cuts the metal accordingly.

“It usually works,” Winslow said, laughing. “None of it’s totally foolproof. There’s a lot of trial and error.”
Winslow grew up on the Eastside and graduated from Bothell High School. Harla hails from Sedro Wooley. The couple met through a mutual friend and has been together ever since.

The Poages both have full-time jobs and run the Maltby Metal Works shop during their off hours. When asked if they’d like to eventually be able to make a full-time living off their artwork, both responded with an emphatic “yes.”

“Isn’t that the ultimate goal?” Harla said.

The Maltby Metal Works shop and office is located across the driveway from the couple’s Bothell house. In the yard in between the two buildings: a few vehicles, a couple of dogs, and the structural beginnings of an enormous aviary Winslow is constructing for their two pet peacocks. Even in their daily lives, the Poages are constantly building and repairing things themselves.

“This is what Win’s been doing his whole life,” Harla said. “Anything he wants, he can make it.”

Check out the Maltby Metal Works Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/MaltbyMetalWorks, and watch for new items on their Instagram account at www.instagram.com/maltbymetalworks.

“I have hundreds of notes written down of all the things we want to make and the things we want to try,” Harla said. “We love doing this.”

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