Selective Focus: Josh Rude

Josh Rude’s work through his company Glørud Design (his family’s original Norwegian name), is probably most visible in the stylish paddles he’s been making and selling at various locations around the area. He also works that style and attention to detail into larger and smaller-scale pieces such as cabinets, tables and vases. This week, we look at some other pieces that he has made, and a brief history of his path as a woodworker.

JR: Glørud Design is a wood shop in Duluth’s harbor front that focuses on custom woodwork and furniture, as well as paddles for canoe, kayak and stand up paddlers. I’ve been doing this for five years.

I grew up in a small town in northwest Minnesota, where working with your hands was a way of life. I always found great joy in being outdoors, spending time on my grandparents farm or being in the woods. The natural environment was always a draw, setting the stage for my work.

There is not a single route that led me to this work. While in university and graduate school I worked with a small construction company owned by my uncle, giving me an understanding of the use of tools. In the summers I would work as a canoe guide on the Gunflint Trail, setting the stage for paddle making. The first summer I guided is where I also met my wife, Natalie (Studio Haiku), for whom the first paddle was made.

Walnut Vases. Studio Haiku. Photo credit: Ali Hormann Photography

While in between careers in 2014, I set out to make good on an engagement gift of a paddle for my wife (…8 years later). The first paddle was a bit rough, and remains unfinished hanging in my shop. The second showed improvement, but also hangs unfinished next to the first. The third attempt had someone mentioned they would like to buy it – so I sold it. The fourth paddle went to my wife, and I began making more.

After travels abroad and living in both Canada and Mexico, our family made the decision to come home to Minnesota and move specifically to Duluth – where the lake and people are a constant reminder of this good decision.

Wine Cabinet at Popol Vuh/Centro in NE Minneapolis

My woodworking shop opened in 2016 and presently my shop space is on the harbor (1400 W. Railroad St.) in Duluth with the focus on paddles and furniture. The lake is 10 feet outside my door.

Coffee Table in clients home – Ontario

Every maker and small business owner juggles their fair share of challenges. As work progresses, I find I could always use more space. Which is a good thing big picture. Having the opportunity to work with my hands in a medium that brings fulfillment is extremely rewarding. But to see a piece of furniture in use when I visit a friend’s home or to see a photo of a paddler in action in the Boundary Waters using a Glørud paddle brings me the greatest joy. My tagline is “custom woodwork for life” – and seeing my work infuse and beautify others lives is beyond great.

Everyone’s Christmas wish. Photo credit: Travis Stejskal

Where can people see your work?
– Bent Paddle (Displayed)
– Frost River
– Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply (Grand Marais)
– Studio Haiku
– Someone paddling next to you on your next BWCA trip

Woodwork (Displayed / In Use)
– Studio Haiku (Duluth)
– Wild State Cider
– Popol Vuh/Centro (NE Minneapolis)
– Malley Design (NE Minneapolis)
– Possibly in your house, or your cool next door neighbors
– The Boundary Waters Expo – June 6, Grand Maris, MN

BWCA Trip Essentials. Photo Credit: Kyle Gill


Featured on WDSE’s “Making It”

Innsjø Paddle in its element. Photo Credit: Kyle Gill

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