A wall hanging wouldn’t hang without a . . . . . well, a hanger. Here at Patch Abilities, 99% of the designs I’ve created over the years have been small quilted wall hangings, which need a “hanger” to display them. I mean, Tipsy the Snowman here needs a clever snowflake-themed hanger to get him properly displayed on the wall.
I began using Ackfeld hangers several years ago, to display samples in my booth at Quilt Market. That is a great story for another day, but I thought you might find it interesting to hear the story that’s been told to me about how Ackfeld Wire came to be. Let me premise by telling you that Peg and Skip Ackfeld are dear to my heart, like an Aunt and Uncle, and they are Missouri born and raised, good down home folk that I can relate to quite simply. This little story of their history was told to me by Skip and is now being passed on to you, in what I hope is as accurate as I can recall, in addition to being entertaining.
Ackfeld Wire began approximately some 25 years ago when Skip Ackfeld was asked to make a “heart” wire hanger, as seen here in their logo. At the time, Skip worked for a gentleman within the quilt and craft industry and was looking for a cute crafty kind of heart wire hanger. The gentleman lined up his employees and told them all that he needed a hanger similar to the one he held up in his hand (similar to the one in their now logo) and which one of them wanted to give it shot.
Well, Skip being the Missouri-crazy-kind of guy that he was/is, stepped up and said “I’ll try it”. He had no clue how to manufacture such a wire hanger, but he did have guts and a bit of resourcefulness. As the story goes, Peg (Skip’s wife) and Skip used their grocery money to buy an industrial roll of wire. It’s also important to note here that they at that time had 5 children. Yes, 5 wily little Ackfeld spawn to feed. But Skip saw a glimmer of opportunity and so on they persevered.
Now what you likely may not know is that wire must be stretched before working with it. This is the entertaining part of their start, in my opinion. So, the wire needed to be stretched. But how does one “stretch” wire? Ah, yes that was the challenge. As I mentioned, Skip is resourceful and so they hooked one end of that roll of wire to their cinder block garage, and the other end to the back of their conversion van. Yes, that’s right, their van. As in the family vehicle, mode of transporting around 5 spirited children, van. . . . . and he drove across the yard, thus “stretching” the wire. I don’t know about you, but for me, a mental image of a Red Green episode comes to mind.
So, with a lot of grit, a big need to feed 5 kids, a dose of resourcefulness and a whole lotta being just plain nuts, they began their business of manipulating wire to create beautiful, useful hangers and products for the quilt, craft & gardening industries. Skip managed to bend and twist that first roll of wire into cute heart hangers that turned out to be a hot selling product. And the rest, as they say is history.
They put together a fun “take a look back” video which you can watch on You Tube. The pictures of them go by quickly, but it is an interesting video that summarizes their business from it’s beginning up to today.
There ya have it. A little background story about a great couple who built a great company, right here in the U.S.A. All of their products are produced in Reeds Spring, Missouri. That’s just a stone’s throw from Branson, Missouri.
I love their products, I adore them and I hope I’ve enlightened you about this terrific “small business” which has been contributing to our fabulous quilting hobby for the past 25+ years. I’ll even bet you have at least one of their products in your home. To see all of their products, you can visit their website: www.ackfeldwire.com. Sure, we carry a ton of their hangers for our patterns, but that’s just a drop in the bucket. Check them out.