Artisans Collaborate on Wells Presbyterian Church’s New Sign

By Dianna Troyer

A new eye-catching wood and metal sign at the historic Community Presbyterian Church in Wells has a collaborative backstory. Three area artisans created it.

Guidelines were intentionally minimal to allow for artistic vision, says Elaine Swanson, a church member who helped coordinate the project.

The sign at 339 Sixth St. needed to look historic, include the word “community” and complement the church’s white exterior and light gray trim.

Bonnie Morgan, a Wells artisan who makes wooden picture frames and upcycles and refurbishes vintage furniture, accepted the challenge.

“I appreciate the talent in our community, and I’m happy that fellow coordinator Barb Nielson and I were able to interest Bonnie in doing this project,” Elaine says.

Barb explained the need for the new sign.

“We have just completed a total renovation of the exterior of our beautiful church,” she says. “The finishing touch is the new sign.”

Elaine says she suggested it be simple.

“We didn’t want lighting and thought it should be traditional in keeping with our 120-year-old church,” Elaine says.

“The word ‘community’ was essential because I feel strongly that we’re here for the community. After that, Bonnie was the creator.”

Although it was the first time Bonnie made a sign, she was undaunted.

“When Elaine first asked, I told her I’d give it a try and decided it would be a donation to the community,” Bonnie says. “I scratched my head and threw out some ideas.”

After sketching out her basic design, Elaine and Barb presented it to church members for approval.

When Bonnie was done building and painting the sign, she contacted a friend’s son, Cade Lindquist, who runs a metal fabrication shop, Nevada Built Steel.

“Bonnie’s sign was my second project for a church,” Cade says. “I’d just finished a 20-foot-tall cross made of tubular steel for a church in Wendover, Utah.”

Cade was told church members would like the sign to feature a metal replica of mountain scenery, including local landmark Chimney Rock.

He sent a photo to an artist he works with who specializes in transferring designs to flat metal.

After cutting out the 14-inch high, 45-inch-long scenic design with a computerized numerical control program, Cade finished it with textured black paint.

To assemble the wooden sign and metal scenery, Bonnie turned to her husband, Danny, who is a welder. He built braces to combine the two pieces and secure the new sign in the ground.

“It was definitely a group effort,” Bonnie says.

The church sign is not Bonnie’s only philanthropic project. She also makes and donates picture frames to local nonprofits for fundraisers.

“Making picture frames and working with wood started as a hobby,” Bonnie says. “I taught myself so I could frame my photos. Some look best with rustic wood, while others need a modern frame. I love making picture frames for an Elko photographer who focuses on wildlife.”

Friends who saw her frames asked her to make some for their artwork, too.

When Bonnie moved into a new house, she chose a rustic d cor and started upcycling furniture.

“Next thing I knew, people started bringing me stuff … old furniture that needed a new look,” Bonnie says. “They tell me to do whatever I think will look good. If I can make someone happy, that’s great.”

Presbyterian Church members are grateful for their new sign.

“I hear a lot of positive comments, and people think the sign blends a historic and contemporary look,” Elaine says. “It will last for a long time and be the first impression to welcome people to our church.”