Ord, NEB — Steffan Baker from Ord makes all sorts of reproduction items like helmet liners, helmets, pins, buckles and more.
The items he makes are scrutinized down to the stitch to make sure they match the ones that were originally used during World War 1.
The Prairie Flower Leather Company website says the company specializes in the manufacture of anachronistic, archaic and obscure items targeting a client of limited and specific scope and nature. I asked owner Stephan Baker to translate that sentence.
"We build weird stuff that nobody really needs but if you want an original and can't find one you have come to the right place," said owner Steffan Baker.
Steffan has done many different things over the years at the business but right now most of his time is spent on World War 1 reproduction items like a liner for a dough boy helmet.
"My grandfather was in World War 1. My cousin in Pennsylvania owns his helmet and uniform. I knew there was no way I would ever inherit that," said Baker.
He bought an America dough boy helmet shell then borrowed a mint condition helmet with an original liner and eventually made a second liner to put in his shell. Aside from using the wrong rivets it was perfect.
"He said if you change those rivets I will buy 20 of them on the spot. It took off from there. It completely obliterated the business I had done before which was saddle and bridal and harness repair," said Baker.
Steffan now makes helmet liners for American, British, German, Japanese, French, Belgian and Russian Helmets plus has equipment to stamp out metal the dough boy helmets.
"As far as the helmets are concerned I am probably a monopoly. I don't know of anybody anymore who stamps out helmets other than German helmets but nobody does the dough boy helmets," said Baker.
The products that he makes are replicas of the originals but many times the machines he uses where the ones that were used when they were originally made.
"I actually deal with people who count stitches per inch and so my thought was if I get into this business I am going to do it as period correct as I possibly can. I could afford antique sewing machines because everybody threw them out for iron. It turned out that is exactly what I needed to do what I do," said Baker.
From WW 1 re-enactors to various WW I movies, his clients keep him very busy.
"I take great pleasure in hearing back from my clientele that they received the item the wanted and they are extremely satisfied with it. People are happy with what I build," said Baker.
Some of the unique metal items he builds are through the lost wax casting process. The pins or buckles are first made from wax in a mold then he creates a plaster cast that burns off in a kiln.
After 14 hours he can pour the nearly 2000 degree liquid white bronze from the oven into the cast. Almost everything that Steffan creates is meticulous and time consuming but he seems perfectly fine with that.
"10 years from now I don't know. I have got so many options open to me. I love doing leather work but I am not tired of the World War 1 stuff yet. It is my life. It is what I do and I enjoy it. God has blessed me beyond my absolute wildest dreams with what he has given me here," said Baker.
For more information about what other items they can fix and reproduce please head to their website at www.pflco.com.