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Dominic Rizzuti was born and reared in Terravecchia, in southern Italy. As a teenager in Italy, Rizzuti learned his craft by hanging around the blacksmith's shop, where they shoed horses and donkeys and sharpened tools for farmers. In 1937, Dominic came to Des Moines, where his father had immigrated some years before. At first he worked for ornamental iron businesses, learning how to do the architectural work featured in churches, public buildings, and in homes.
By 1950, Dominic and his brother, Sam, opened their own business, Artistic Ornamental Ironworks, which now includes his sons Rocco, Dominic Jr., and Louis, as well as workers from Laos. “Dad brought me down to run errands and whatever else I could do,” recalls Lou Rizzuti. “But over the years I picked up the craft, as did my brothers Dom Jr. and Rocco.”
Dominic Rizzuti has also passed his skills and knowledge on to new employees. Describing the five Laotian American who now work for the family business, Rizzuti explains, “They are immigrants like me.”
Artistic Ornamental Ironworks uses both computers and a traditional forge to develop their own designs and also follows architectural patterns to fashion a variety of custom hand-wrought ironwork. The southeast Des Moines shop produces a variety of custom, hand-forged wrought iron work, from doors, gates, circular staircases, fences, and railings to the historic restoration of the State Fair turn-of-the-century gates.