Friday, October 21, 2022

Featured Exhibitor: American Craftsmen



Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jesse Gerhard, and I make canoes, paddles, nets, lures, and other various items, from lumber I find around the metro area. I usually like to use floor joists, beams, and fencing as they usually require the least amount of nail pulling. I design all the items, mill and cut all the lumber, as well as assemble and finish each item by myself in my shop in the Oak Grove MN. Usually when my kids are on summer break, they will take a few days to help me package all the items prior to the art fairs.

What was your first memory of making something?

The first thing I remember making was a bike. I remember my father tossing my brothers and myself up into the dumpsters behind the apartments in order to find broken bikes. From there we could strip the good parts and make ourselves a working bike. They were usually still pretty crappy and always pretty dangerous. In the end we learned, you don't need money to make something cool, just a willingness to get dirty.



How did you get started in your business?

My career was changed overnight, in the middle of the night actually around 2 am. I was working as a Police officer in downtown Minneapolis when I assisted in the arrest of a prostitute who began fighting us. The next day I had some trouble moving my leg and arm. After some X rays and such, turns out 9 yrs carrying a machine gun is tough on your spine. I failed my physical to return to work and the VA helped me to pursue what I did as a hobby, and turn it into a career.

Why did you start working in this craft?

Growing up I helped my father doing construction, so much so, he was charged a few times with the child labor laws. So, from about 12 or 13 I did woodworking, lots of doors, windows, and wood flooring. I was always considered the artistic kid in the family and was always drawing as well. When I joined the military I painted murals, drew lots of tattoos, designed defensive perimeters, built gun emplacements, basically did what needed to be done and used what I had, to keep us alive and pass the time. I do "woodworking" right now, but not exclusively and have big, different, plans for the future, in addition to what I do now.


What are some inspirations for your work?

My Grandfather. He loved to canoe, and he loved to fish. He was a big part of our entire family and many other people as well. When I design something, I consider whether he would think it was cool? Would he display it in his home? So, I try to make things he would have enjoyed and love to display, things that would have stood the test of time.



American Craftsmen

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