Munising honors Woodenware factory

MUNISING – The public has an opportunity next week to work with an artist to build a 15-foot-wide wooden bowl sculpture which will stand in front of the Alger County Heritage Center in Munising.

The Alger County Heritage Center is coordinating the project to celebrate Munising’s world-renowned and historic Woodenware factory. Beginning in 1911, the Munising Woodenware Factory made numerous kitchenware items still sought by collectors today including rolling pins, bowls, clothespins and paddles.

Wisconsin artist and teacher Brock Rumohr – who was born in Escanaba and whose family has roots in Munising- will be designing and facilitating the Munising Woodenware Community Collaborative Sculpture.

The public will help Rumohr build the bowl from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., or until the bowl is built, Wednesday in front of the heritage center, which is located along Washington Street in Munising.

“The piece will be constructed with a steel armature and participants will weave wooden strips of wood over two days to complete the form in its entirety,” organizers said.

The sculpture event will be in conjunction with a Munising Woodenware exhibition inside the heritage center. Phyllis Pokela, ACHS Board member and display committee head, will work with local collectors, Bettina Graber and JoAnn Carlson, to showcase some unique and familiar Woodenware pieces.

Along with the woodenware event, the Munising Quilt Guild will be showcasing several quilts at the Center which will be distributed to local veterans.

“We are hoping to bring the Woodenware history to the forefront and bring tribute to the artists that worked at the factory,” said Mary Jo Cook, ACHS president.

Cooks said she hopes the community will take time to bring their family and assist in the development of the sculpture.

Rumohr is a visual artist and teacher from the Milwaukee area. He grew up in Greendale, Wis. and he currently lives in Waukesha with his family. Rumohr earned a bachelor’s degree in art education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1999 and an master of fine arts degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

He teaches ceramics and sculpture at Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wis. and is in his eighth year as an adjunct lecturer in ceramics at Carroll University in Waukesha. Rumohr creates functional pottery, mixed -media sculpture, commissioned bronze portraiture, and designs community collaborative sculpture events with communities, schools, businesses and more.

“I am truly humbled to have been invited to develop and implement a community collaborative sculpture event in the beautiful town of Munising,” Rumohr said. “This will be a very special project for many reasons. I have strong ties to the town of Munising as my mother and father both were raised there.”

As a child, Rumohr and his parents would take numerous trips to Munising to visit family and friends.

“There my brother Jason and I would go fishing with our Grandpa, play with our numerous cousins, and of course, dive into the brisk and refreshing waters of Lake Superior down at the end of Sand Point Road,” Rumohr said. “Some of my most vivid memories of Munising are tied to the annual 4th of July celebration. Every year, families return to Munising to reunite and celebrate for the days prior to the 4th and after. We would leave exhausted, tired, reconnected, and very, very happy.”

Rumohr said another significant element of the project is that the sculpture is going to be placed at the former site of the Woodenware Factory.

“My connection to the event goes deeper here as my great-grandmother Lillian Bijou Revord was a painter of the Woodenware pieces on that very spot and my Grandma Lois and Grandpa “Bud” Rumohr lived right down the street from this spot as I was growing up,” Rumohr said.

“It is hard to describe how it feels to be creating a piece right there where there is so much history for me personally,” Rumohr said. “Grandma Revord was always supportive of me and my artistic endeavors, sending me books on Michelangelo, small boxes of pastels that she could spare and always accompanied by small notes of encouragement and wise observations…I feel so grateful for the opportunity to be working on this project with so many good people.”

For more information, visit: and or call the Alger County Heritage Center at 387-4308.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is