“Since God didn’t create any junk, we can find beauty everywhere, if we will look for it.” – Danny Edwards
Danny Edwards doesn’t create any junk, either. Well, not anymore. There is that one piece – his first attempt at sculpting in bronze – that hides in his basement. It’s only practical use, Danny says, would be as a boat anchor.
Since that first creation 22 years ago, Danny’s skills have caught up to his passion for nature and innate creativity, as he’s become a world-renowned sculptor. The Twin Falls native’s art stands in the halls of presidents and dignitaries, including the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan. His 17-foot tall “Elk Monument” and 32-foot long “Elk and Bear Monument” are famous Jackson Hole landmarks. Danny’s work is found as close as Boise and as far away as Germany in both large monuments and small collectibles in homes.
By extensively researching the beautiful wildlife of North America, Danny authentically captures nature’s splendor.
“I enjoy sculpting wildlife because our emotional connection with them is so pure,” he says. “It doesn’t seem to get all tangled up with human ideologies. They are what they are. Every animal has a certain spirit about it, a certain way he carries himself, a particular gait in his walk. And each animal leaves a pretty distinct footprint.
“My job is to somehow bring out some of that emotion in the viewer. When people view it, they don’t always feel the same emotion that I felt when creating the piece, but if it stirs some sort of emotion in them of peace, majesty, elegance, ruggedness, or some other emotion, at least it’s brought something out of their soul and they have experienced beauty.”
In the literal sense, Danny hasn’t gone far in life – he lives two miles from where he grew up. As a rambunctious 5-year-old, Danny ruined every clock and wristwatch in sight by taking them apart to see how they worked. It fascinated the youngster to watch his grandfather build machines in his shop and Danny’s aunts stirred his artistic side as he watched them paint. He thought, “Someday I want to create things with my hands that will support my family.”
For a while, that meant building furniture. For many years, Danny and his wife Lynda ran a bedroom furniture manufacturing business. They shipped furniture all over the country and managed a retail store, Danny D’s Waterbeds, located in the Lynwood Shopping Center. They built thousands of beds, dressers and nightstands and Danny designed every piece. They enjoyed the creative process, but managing 40 employees was sometimes a hassle; Danny’s laid-back nature didn’t allow him to be a strict boss.
Once in a while, it’s the little things in life that make the biggest impact. For Danny, a walk in the park altered his life’s path. He was 35 years old and worn out with the furniture business. He encountered a man in the park named Earl McAdams, a firefighter and sculptor. Danny was intrigued by Earl’s bronzes and began asking questions. A few years later, Danny told Lynda he’d like to quit the furniture business and give sculpting a try.
Take A Chance
“It was a big deal and there were some scary moments,” Danny recalls. “Anytime you take a chance, that’s exactly what it is – a chance. No one says, ‘I think I’ll go take a guarantee.’”
At this point of the story, we must pause and recognize the real reason behind Danny’s success. The journey Danny has taken over the past 22 years is a testament to his unquenchable desire to create and express himself. However, it’s also a testament to his relationship with an extraordinary wife of 37 years, Lynda, who has been there with him every step of the way. When Danny said he wanted to sculpt for a living, leaving behind the steady income of their furniture business, Lynda supported the decision and continued managing the store while the starving artist got his start. To this day, Lynda is Danny’s manager, business partner, and bookkeeper – but she’s also his coach, cheerleader, and critic.
“Crack the whip, that’s my job,” Lynda says. “We have learned through the years how to be a good team. Once you realize he has this talent and ability, my job has been to cheer him on.”
“I couldn’t have done it had she not been so supportive while I’m out here being a little boy playing with clay,” Danny admits. “It was a stressful time, but we were excited. We were a dab younger then and had a lot of vinegar. We knew we could make it work; and with God’s help, we did.”
Without formal training, Danny went to work figuring out how to sculpt clay, prepare plaster molds, pour 2,000-degree melted bronze into the molds, and then sand blast, grind and weld the finished pieces. Through trial and error, Danny began selling his work through a California-based company called Legends, who just happened to come across a flier he and Lynda had made that showcased the first – and only – works he had made up to that point. It was the big break Danny needed to launch his career.
Besides the intricacies of the bronzing process, the Edwards family had to learn the business side of the art world. They leaned on Danny’s people skills and ability to market himself. He’s a man of integrity and he’s likable – his deep Western voice is a dead ringer for John Wayne.
“I guess I’m fairly naive and I think that almost anything is possible if you have enough desire,” he says. “I heard somebody say, ‘I really want that.’ Well, do you want it bad enough to pursue it? We all say we want to do things. I want to lose a few pounds, but do I want to lose them enough to actually pursue the lifestyle that helps me do that? That’s the question. When you put your action to work, I think you can accomplish anything.”
Just like he envisioned as a boy, Danny has been able to support his family with his hands.
“A lot of artists are afraid to talk about the money side because they believe a pure artist shouldn’t be thinking about money. But it’s pretty rewarding when you’ve struggled over something – and believe me, there are times of struggle – and someone says, ‘I’m willing to pay cash for that.’”
Eventually, Danny and Lynda started their own foundry, which is a factory that produces castings and pours molten metal into molds. After several years of running the foundry, they decided to close it so that Danny could focus his energy on creativity.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work,” Danny says. “The thing about creating art for a living, you have to be creative on demand. When you’re down the road a few months or years, you’re kind of out of ideas, but you need to be creative. Then you have to look at the practical side and think about raising a family and putting kids in college. You have to motivate yourself to be creative.”
Molding A Life
“Every day, all of us try to absorb a little beauty,” Danny says. “We look for it in a sunset, a mountain stream, a beautiful woman, music, or art. My passion is to create a piece of art that will bring out that beauty and emotion.”
Thousands worldwide have found beauty in Danny’s work. Every finished piece reflects his pure creative energy.
“The creative process and being able to let it flow out of your emotions is probably one of the most rewarding about the sculpture process,” Danny says.
In the same way he crossed over from furniture building to sculpting, Danny will continue to evolve. Sculpting will always be a part of his life – he’d like to do more monuments – but he finds time for other interests as well. Most treasured are the moments he spends camping in Idaho’s wilderness with family. He creates beautiful paintings (although he wishes he had more time for that), and even has a few inventions in the works.
“I have all kinds of ideas and dreams, but not enough time to do them all.”
Indeed, a part of the little boy who fiddled with clocks never grew up.
See more of Danny’s work at: http://www.elementsofnaturestore.com