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More Than Music

Gibson 335 by Kris Hensler.

Kris Hensler is something of a renaissance man known for his multi-faceted background. As a musician, Hensler has played in a variety of bands, but as of late he is known for his work with Kenny Taylor of the Atomic Sharks which has not only led to gigs at family-friendly events, but also to his and Taylor’s Sweetwater sponsored Music Minutes airing on PBS stations throughout the country. Hensler’s PBS connection is a bit deeper as he has been the program director for Fort Wayne’s local PBS station, WFWA, for the past two decades.

But what isn’t known about Hensler is his talent as a woodworker; he started building furniture, but has moved into more artistic endeavors. His interest in building things comes from his father.

“My dad was always Mr. Handy,” said Hensler. “He built our house. So, I picked-up on his handy nature. My dad picked up woodworking in his late 50s, when I still lived at home.”

After he married, he and his wife moved to Chicago where Hensler found a place that sold high-end furniture and spent the next decade building thousands of pieces. He developed a talent for replicating high-end furniture and founded Hensler Design, taking advantage of Chicago’s exquisite architectural wonders, including its Frank Lloyd Wright designs. His ability to create pre-existing pieces helped build his business. But he said that building furniture became a chore, and when his family moved to Fort Wayne, he began exploring his interest in television.

“I started working at WFWA in the evenings; then the position of program director opened. This was 1999; it is 20 years this past summer,” said Hensler.

Although his career path has taken a different direction, Hensler remains interested in wordworking, but he wanted to take his designs in a different direction.

“I got back into it almost by accident,” he said. “I always had a wood shop in my home, and then about five years ago, I decided to try to make household items that were both cool and funky. I made candleholders and lamps, but it never seemed to go anywhere. So lately, I’ve been doing art pieces, and I’m going to see how that goes. Artistically it’s much more satisfying.”

Hensler’s woodwork also merges with his musical side as he finds ways to bring instruments into his work.

Having found a fun direction to take his love of workworking, Hensler is busy finding homes for many of his creations.

“This is the most fun I’ve had with woodworking,” he said. “It allows me to do some metal work too and plays to my strengths. Being able to do bring my love of music into my passion for woodworking is very fulfilling,” he said. henslerartanddesign.com

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