What do you think these sculptures are made of?

Rory King is the head woodworker at KING. He spends most of his time at the back of the warehouse, constructing desks, pegboards for accessories displays, and other functional works of art. Most everyone around the office knows who he is and what he does, but outsiders may wonder where all the art situated in the hallways and in one or two conference rooms originated from. The answer would be Rory.


He was about 18, and in high school, when he started creating sculptures. Before he delved into the world of wood, he painted with colored lacquer and oil paste in an airbrush style, back when he was a painter/printmaker.

“I needed to make a living, so I taught myself woodworking and I took what I learned from that, after 55 years, and funneled it back into building sculptures.” A lot of his current techniques were inspired by methods utilized during that time.

These days, he prefers building things with his hands.

Rory King made the front desk, which currently serves as the home base for Jessica Gerardy, KING’s secretary and assistant HR rep.

As you stroll the halls of the KING building in Bloomington, Minn., you can see 8-10 (out of about 50, he’s made over the years) of Rory’s sculptures. Down the main entry hall, if you keep heading back until you hit Randy Nelson’s office, you’ll see about five of his sculptures in a loose cluster juxtaposed with old filing cabinets–his latest resting just shy of direct light.

Take 5 the name of that piece, and it’s currently his favorite.

“There’s a lot of energy in that one. It looks like it’s ready to leap off the platform, and yet it’s all very controlled. I like to contrast, you know. I try to make everything look as wild as possible, yet everything’s smooth and well executed.”

“If it fails, it fails.”

Not all of his ideas are executed in such an exact manner, however. There have been a few times where Rory has tried to produce a form that, to his mind, would have been feasible, but somewhere along the line, the finished product didn’t quite shape up to meet his original expectations.

He said, “If it fails, it fails.”

“Some of them, I don’t like, so you never see them. So, I cut them up and threw them away, because I was embarrassed. I thought it was a good idea, at the time, but then you build it and you look at it, and you think, ‘No. Haha.’ “

Rory King stands beside his favorite piece, so far: “Take 5”. He owes the name to the five balls embedded along the top of the piece.

Rory King stands beside his favorite piece, so far: “Take 5”. He owes the name to the five balls embedded along the top of the piece.

The Process

He stores his artwork, out of harm’s way, in his workshop when it’s not on display.

He finds inspiration in shapes, and executing the human form, he said.

“A lot of artists, today, take found objects and they just glue them together or weld the together and create this chaotic appearance, and it isn’t bad, it’s just already been done and I don’t want to do something that’s already been done.”

His favorite part of the process is getting a concept of the idea for a sculpture. He had the idea for the yellow piece when he saw a piece of wood leaning against a wall, and he decided to 3-dimensionalize it.

“The way I do this is very simple. It’s a process that I’ve never seen done before, but it’s so simple. You just cut a miter, then you glue it, and then you back fill it with a tongue depressor, and epoxy, then radius the top and then you’ve got what looks like bent metal, essentially.

This is an example of the curved cornices Rory fashions from a run-of-the-mill miter cut.

This is an example of the curved cornices Rory fashions from a run-of-the-mill miter cut.

“That’s how I’m able to do all of these fantastic things, is with what they call tape-hinge technology. It’s not really high tech, it’s just using masking tape as a hinge and then of course, when it dries, you take the tape off and throw it away… Anyway, that’s how I’m able to do everything I do, and so much of it, within a short period of time.”

He also likes coming up with names for his pieces. He said he’s even thinking about renaming a few. For example, he’s considering renaming Take 5 as Jazz in Motion. Perhaps, the more he looks at his own work, the more he sees, as if he’s becoming more objective, yet more critical over time.

The Future is Bright for Rory King

One of Rory’s prints hangs on the wall of his workshop amongst scraps of wood and other projects in process.

He’s been featured in the Minnesota State Fair, where he won $500 for his print artwork, and he’s shown his sculptures at what was then the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center (now called Artistry).

What’s next for Rory King? He’s looking forward to hosting a one-man show, featuring as many sculptures as he can fit inside one chosen gallery at a time. This dream of his makes it difficult for him to part with any particular piece, as he wants to keep them all together in the same location, so he can showcase them later, rather than sell them now for profit.

If you’re ever in the area, stop by the KING facility in Bloomington, Minn. for a chance to see Rory King’s artwork, year ‘round. You could ever meet the man in person and take a look inside his workshop, if you ask nicely.

This wooden cat carving serves as the inspiration for his side job: Creating urns for posthumously beloved pets


Rory King’s Brief Bio:
He went to Marshall High School, where he was the best artist in his graduating class, a title which garnered a scholarship to the University of Minnesota. To bolster his burgeoning art career, he made a living as a woodworker, and after all of these years, he’s been able to channel what he’s learned on the job and transform his ideas in physical works of art.


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