Finding decor in natural ‘stuff’

By Dawn Aerts

Iron County Today

CEDAR CITY–When Ed Severance isn’t organizing a ‘pickle ball’ match or leading an impromptu tour of the Historic Rock House, he is doing what he likes best – coming up with ideas for his decorative native inspirations.

“I’ve always enjoyed just looking for ‘stuff’ in nature, spending time outside and discovering what ‘Mother Nature’ has to offer in elements, rocks, and other nature-made materials.” Severance, born in New Hampshire, claims to have crisscrossed the U.S., West Coast to East Coast, multiple times, living for a time in small towns like Park City, Utah, and in big cities like Las Vegas. As a former high school teacher, he has dabbled in everything from fraud investigation to grounds-work, but one interest has remained constant, his attention to finding interesting ‘stuff’ outdoors.

“Everything I gather, has been supplied by nature,” said Severson of his Cedar City workshop. “So, you might say, I’ve always had a coffee-can full of rocks and a collection of this and that.”

Severance’s work is focused on creating decorative pieces that are a combination of raw or natural elements. “I have these pieces, sometimes it’s a wagon wheel spoke, or an interesting limb of wood, a fossil, or maybe a Cholla Cactus,” said Severson, “For me it about using these shapes that inspire me, and then putting them together.”

His work focuses on Native American objects with a purpose. “Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time in the Southwest, in Arizona and Nevada. As a high school student, I was very impressed with the Navajo culture and admired how they lived,” said Severson. “So, I want people to see the many things that they can find on the land, and all that ‘Mother Nature’ provides us with.”

Severance’s wife, Shannon, is likewise impressed with rocks and geology.

“Over the years, (between us) we had quite a collection going – my Grandfather, George A. Wood was a builder and a contractor,” said Severance of the old Rock (LDS) Church and chapel Wood had constructed in 1931. “And my Dad worked in the mines, so when we came to Cedar, we put our collections together.”

Severance’s workshop and studio is full of elk and deer antlers, horns and jawbones which he uses to construct his work. “I still have a gold claim Northeast of Beaver which allows me to take out minerals, stones and things – said Severson of his projects. “I like using the Cholla Cactus and the Manzanita Wood or the Saguaro cacti of Mexico in some of these.”

Severson fashions a wide range of decor from ornate-looking hunting knives mounted on wood, to primitives and neck-bolos inspired by the Southwest.

“I decided five years ago that I wanted to start using all of the elements, stones and fossils, the wood-pieces I had gathered over the years,” said Severance. “I enjoy having people see these works and how they are now serving a purpose.”

While Severance is always looking for ‘stuff’ it is the challenge of creating a decorative from a concept that he imagines. “Sometimes I will start with one piece, then work on another, and go back again. Eventually I start seeing the shapes come together, so I go back and forth until it’s complete.”

Since retirement, Severance has come to enjoy the contrasts and mix of natural elements scattered throughout his workshop. “I call this ‘Earth Man Creations,” said Severance of the materials he has gathered over the years. “When I am not busy with projects, I lead an occasional tour at the Old Rock Church,” and of course, “Pickle Ball groups are going on five mornings a week.”


Edward Severance nature-based creations will be featured as one of 30 plus vendors at the Frontier Homestead Museum “Folk Life” Festival planned for Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23. He and his wife, Shannon, have collected a mix of stones, rocks, fossils, wood elements, horns, antlers and items from nature for the past 50-plus years.


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