Woodworkers make their mark

“People looking at art furniture are not price shopping,” said Tom Schrunk. They’ve already gone to other stores and they’re looking for something that makes their own statement, fits their physical stature or the size of their rooms. “It might cost more, but maybe not a lot more.”

Thomas Schrunk can’t read music, but the folks who make Steinway grand pianos consider him a virtuoso of veneer. Photo courtesy of Steinway

In the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, there are about 200 artists working in and pushing the boundaries of traditional craft mediums such as wood, glass, ceramics, metal, printmaking, jewelry and fiber. We intend to highlight many of these genres over the coming months, starting with Arts District artisans working in wood. The genre includes wood frames, tables, chairs and cabinets, to pianos, desks and full scale wall and sculptural art pieces.

To call Tom Schrunk a woodworker would be only partly accurate. “I think I have something to say with luster and light,” Schrunk said. He’s covered Steinway pianos in book-matched veneer and made a donor wall for the Minneapolis Foundation that springs to life as a tree. His tools are a straight edge and knives, as his art involves placing small pieces of wood veneer at angles to cause motion of light as the viewer passes the varnished finished piece. 

An inventor, Schrunk also holds seven patents including one for the StopLossBag that keeps every last drop of varnish as viable as the first. (StopLossBags.com)

Schrunk is currently envisioning a liquor cabinet where the user presses a button, lights come on, the doors open and 6-foot wings arise. A


friend is working on the mechanics. He said he’s always up for something that makes him stretch beyond what he used to do, and enjoys working for a client who provides such challenges.

Schrunk finds it “absolutely beneficial” to be in the Northrup King Building (NKB) in this area “put forward publicly as an Arts District. You can do any wacky thing and SOMEone will like it. You have to expose what you have, to countless sets of eyes. People come expecting there will be something interesting.” He added that especially with his work, online is no substitute for in-person. 

Who does Schrunk look up to? “Michael Speaker is an absolute genius.” Speaker, a sculptor on fourth floor of NKB, worked on variations of his “Rhinocerous Desk” for many years. 

Singing Dog Furniture, by Dodd Demas

Dodd Demas, Singing Dog Furniture, “has a marvelous sense of proportion,” Schrunk said, making Prairie School style furniture to fit the urban houses of that era, where commercial styles tend to be too big. Demas also lists Asian and Arts & Crafts influences.

Below are links to other wood furniture artisans we’ve identified; if there are any others residing or working in the Arts District that we’ve missed, please email info@northeastminneapolisartsdistrict.org .

Allason Owens SqRoot Woodworking
Blue Sky Galleries
Brenda Griffin Wagner – Canopy
Clark Bremer
Daphnae Koop
David Baer – Reveal Original
Kevin Showell Custom Sculpture and Wood Carving
Hossle Woodworks
Maxwell McInnis
Michael Speaker
Miles Taylor Future Framing
Scott Horne
Shannyn Joy Potter
Dodd Demas Singing Dog Furniture
Stangler Works
Steve Bailey
Steven McLoon, Patrick McMahon – Millennium Studio
Tiny Proctor
Thomas Schrunk 
Twin Ignition Startup Garage Craig Johnson