Lasers, sparks, and creativity: Father-son duo makes custom art

When it comes to their family-owned welding and metal fabrication business, Ed Bartles and his son Matt say, “If you can think it, we can do it.” The father-son duo is using sophisticated technology and good old-fashioned creativity to make custom, unique works of art.  

With 11 years of welding experience and his father’s love of art, it’s almost as if their business, Cracker Boy Customs, was just waiting for them to start it. 

“My son Matt has an extensive background in welding, so one day he said, 'Pop, I have to talk to you about something.' It was basically about doing what we do now. I have always loved art so it seemed to be a perfect fit. The rest is kind of history,” Ed said.  

Matt started out at Pinellas Technical College and is now an instructor there. He says the laser cutter they use allows them to make precise cuts, especially on their smaller, more intricate projects.

Some of their projects can take many hours to complete. For instance, their custom-made fire pits take about 10 hours and can cost more than $1,000 to purchase.    

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Most of their creations start with a drawing and then the sparks begin to fly as their machine welds through the metal to create amazing effects.

“We separate ourselves from everybody else by using jewelry-grade stainless steel,” Matt said. 

Lastly, once their design is created, they begin to add the colors.

“It’s a lot of blending of colors and coming up with really cool creations, and we’re always up for the challenge for a new piece,” Ed offered.  

The Bartles family and their creations can be found at the Wagon Wheel Flea Market on Park Blvd. N in Pinellas Park every weekend. Find them at spots AS25 & AS26 in the main building.

LINK: For more information about Cracker Boy Customs and their artwork visit their Facebook page,