About the Artist
   
KoaRockers -Glenn Severance


The Severance name reaches deep into Hawaiian history. Although I didn't move here untill 1979 my relatives first arrived in 1851. Luther Severance first came in that year as a diplomatic represenative of the United States and served for three years but ill health forced him back to the mainland where he died in 1855. He had two sons Luther Jr. and Henry who made Honolulu their home in 1857. They established the first large rice plantation in Hawaii. In 1867 Henry moved to San Francisco and was appointed consul to the Hawaiian Islands by King Kamehameha V In that same year Luther Jr. moved to the Big Island and in 1870 he was appointed, by his Majesty Kamehameha V, Sheriff of the Island of Hawaii, also the Collector of customs and the Port Master at the Port of Hilo. My grandmother, Jean Severance, taught at Punaho School in Honolulu from 1915 to 1918 and left Hawaii shortly after attending Queen Liliaukalani's funeral.

My woodworking career began at age 19 when I apprenticed to a blacksmith and self-taught furniture maker, Elam Sharpe. Elam, a veteran of World War I, was already quite old at the time. He took me under his wing and taught me the basics of furniture making. I went on to graduate from Chico State College in California, majoring in Furniture Design and Construction under an apprenticeship program with Elam Sharpe as my teacher. The sculpted rocker design that I have become best known for building comes directly from "Grampa" Sharpe's teachings.

 
 

By the summer of 1979, when Elam Sharpe passed on, I was a living in Mt. Shasta, California, and had been building rockers in black walnut with limited success as a "starving artist". In the winter of 1979, I moved to Hawaii to help a friend with her woodworking business in Keaau on the Big Island. I was introduced to the rare Hawaiian Koa and a variety of other Island hardwoods, and immediately started making rockers. Little by little, I improved in my joinery and perfected my finishing techniques. As the quality of the chairs improved, so did the demand for my work. By 1987 I began building rockers full time. I found that by being honest in making quality furniture, and not rushing the proccess, I maintained the spirit of my teacher in every chair. Each chair is made individually by me. There is no mass production . Working at home allows me to spend more time to produce exceptional quality furniture without the high cost of a large" production shop".

Nestled amongst the Ohia trees in the Puna rainforest is my workshop and is just a stone's throw away from the family kitchen. The erupting volcano is 10 miles to the South, and the Puna coast is a 15 minute walk. If you wish to tour the workshop please call or e-mail and make an appointment. I'm located about 20 miles outside Hilo.

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