Nature soothes, which is why Scott Estrem uses it as the foundation for his creations with Tonka Bay Fountains. Combining rich elements, like water and stone, he creates features that are both eye-catching and functional. His stonework ranges from a variety of sculptural fountains to other objects like wine racks, tiki torches and flower vases. (The majority of his work is traditional stone fountains, which he creates into works of art.)
The idea for this business was quite organic. After moving into his Tonka Bay home, Estrem had to cut down a diseased tree that was the focal point of his teardrop garden (referencing the shape of a large, raised planter in the yard). Longing for something to fill the void,
he began searching for a sculpture or fountain. However, the typical concrete cast designs he was finding seemed too bulky and artificial for his liking.
Finding inspiration from nature, Estrem began to conceptualize alternative solutions. As a former tech contractor for phone systems and infrastructure wiring, Estrem says he had a lot of construction tools on hand that were once used for cable installations. To experiment, he used these resources in conjunction with the boulders he sourced from his father’s lake property.
Estrem learned to carve and drill stone to create his first fountain piece for his yard. Growing an affinity for the craft, he began making more pieces for friends and family—launching Tonka Bay Fountains in 2011.
Embodying the spirit of the brand, a four-tier fountain sits in the center of the Wyer Hill Condominiums' courtyard in Excelsior. It is here where the cascading water provides a quaint oasis for residents in the community in the warmer months. Marvin Richards, property manager of Wyer Hill, says the fountain was sought after, since the previous fountain was too expensive to maintain and was not aesthetically pleasing. “[The new] piece uses rather simple materials to create something beautiful,” Richards says. “It turned out to be a far better solution than we could’ve ever dreamed it could.”
For each piece, Estrem uses the natural beauty of the stones as his guide. He looks at the color variations and shapes to help visualize how he can best utilize the stones’ assets. Aside from their physical characteristics, the only other criteria he searches for when looking for material is the hardness of the rock. (It must be equal to the hardness of granite or more.) “Water features cannot be made out of softer sources, like limestone, sandstone or concrete, because they are porous, and they degrade over time with weathering conditions,” he says.
Adhering to the quality of the rock contributes to a lifelong warranty of beauty for each customer, according to Estrem. “The normal warranty on these fountains is half a million years, and if you want the full million, you’re going to have to pay extra,” he jokingly says. “They are going to be around … That is one of the things I like about this—the everlasting nature of it and the ability to leave your mark on the world.”
Tonka Bay Fountains
55 Interlachen Drive, Excelsior; 952.820.5688