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Made In Eastern Iowa: A solo operation in Marion for math, art and heat

By Chris Earl | KCRG-TV9 | 
MARION, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) — Tucked deep inside of Marion and the city’s curious mix of retail and residential just west of downtown, the north side of Cara Briggs Farmer’s garage reveals the knowledge, precision and creativity within.
Cara Briggs Farmer, of Marion, works in her garage. Her operation, Synergy Metalworks, strives to combine math, engineering and art into decorative pieces.

“My first career was as a scenic carpenter and a stagehand so I was designing stages in Minneapolis,” said Briggs Farmer, an Iowa native and a UNI graduate. “I did not know how to weld.”

Now the welding makes up the most dramatic action inside Synergy Metalworks, the garage that serves as her den of creativity, about 50 feet from her backdoor.

“Like every good Iowa student, I ran away,” said Briggs Farmer. “And then I wandered back. I was kind of burned out on building other people’s vision and I wanted to make art on my own terms.”

Her website ( shows off that vision, how a mere piece of scrap metal can, through math and engineering principles plus copious heat off a welder, leads to the final product. A wall sconce torch ($117), a tabletop torch ($69.50) or more decorative pieces, such as steel and glass screens ($445) that feature a more distinct and vivid color.

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