As you approach the edge of Clark County, a local art display may have you thinking you’ve entered prehistoric times. Run by couple Clyde and Nancy Wynia, JD Danielson tells the tale of Jurustic Park for this County by County. What started as a passion project for the Wynia’s evolved into a full-fledged artistic park.
“Well, about 29 years ago, just for kicks, I made it a big iron bird, nine-foot wingspan. And it was a nice project one day. And I never had any intention of making any more or getting into anything like this. A neighbor came by one day and I was showing him, and he says, where did you get that? I said, I’ve got all the marsh out here and have it in the master in the iron age. But the rich state knows. Well, I couldn’t stop with one. I had to get them out, welding them back together.”
Clyde Wynia served as a lawyer for most of his working days, but following retirement, he began crafting iron sculptures born from real world influence and his own imagination. Once people started taking notice, the artistic train was in full motion.
“People started coming. So, within five years, so many people were coming. I sold off to my partner and tell him, decide to play the rest of my life, and then it exploded. Now we’re getting over 15,000 people every year out here. Last year, they signed our guestbook from 34 different countries, 30th to the year before.”
The Wynia’s property in Marshfield transformed into an interactive exhibit, complete with dozens of sculptures and an interactive tour from Clyde. Alongside Clyde’s iron shop full of statues is a glass shop operated by his wife Nancy, who splits her time in the shop with nursing. She says a need for sweater buttons combined with leftover glass from her husband sparked her creative journey.
“Well, Clyde was doing stained glass at the time, so i melted some of his scraps in a microwave kiln that we had and made buttons. And look what happened. I got what happened.”
Her shop, the Hobbit House, constructs a variety of glass-born pieces, including buttons, jewelry, and her personal favorite, ornaments.
“I sell a lot of these ornaments. I put a drop of alcohol dye on them after I’ve made them, and I blow it around with an air hole that I have and that I never know what’s going to what it’s really going to look like, how the colors are going to mix, you know. Now, those are wonderful, especially in a window because they are pretty light hungry.”
Aside from creating pieces, she also teaches classes. The popularity of the Wynia’s pieces have generated considerable charitable donations, and even the construction of a new park.
“Every year I give to 12 local charitable auctions like Children’s Miracle Network and that brings them in around $6,000 every year just that way. We’ve kind of agreed with the parks and the visitor’s bureau here in town to start a little Jurassic Park down there at the Wildwood Park or the zoo or the new water park.”
This new park correlates with Clyde’s change in direction, as he looks to focus more on his larger pieces rather than simply fulfilling specific orders.
“Last year, I sold 94 dogs. I don’t want to make 94 dogs. I’m going to keep on making stuff, but I’ll be making the bigger stuff and the moving stuff that attracts the people here rather than the little ones for sale. They’re the favorite ones to do now.”
Despite this focus shift, Wynia says he isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon.
“People have got the impression that we’re moving. No, I’m going to keep up with this. It’s too much fun. Meeting the people is too much fun building it. And my gosh, I’m only 88, so I’m not about to give up on this thing.”