L-101 member builds aluminum dinosaur

Rick Kawchack’s 2,000-lb. dinosaur.

   View Photo Gallery (5 photos)

Massive sculpture combines Boilermaker skills, artist’s vision

IT’S A PRETTY safe bet that Rick Kawchack’s personal shop in Colorado contains something that can’t be found anywhere else in the world: a 2,035-pound, seven-foot-tall, 22-foot long aluminum replica of a Styracosaurus dinosaur.

The Local 101 (Denver) member spent 2,000 hours and over two years to build the all-metal beast, his first large metal sculpture. It was something that became a personal challenge, he said. The idea came to him when he received some scrap aluminum tubing that brought to mind what the inner structure of a dinosaur might look like. He began researching dinosaurs and settled on the Styrocasaurus.

Kawchack is a 2000 graduate apprentice who also earned a two-year degree in welding and studied metallurgy. Today he works as a welding instructor for Local 101 when not in the field.

“Everything I learned from being a Boilermaker — from working in confined spaces [he often had to climb inside the belly of the beast] to structural design — contributed to this project, as did my welding and metallurgy training,” Kawchack recalled.

He said welding and shaping aluminum is not something construction Boilermakers typically do, and that is where his metallurgy knowledge came in handy.

To move the Styracosaurus, Kawchack built a trailer beneath it. The beast is a real head-turner at art events and parades, he noted. It has also been featured in several metal art trade magazines.

Kawchack said the sculpture is for sale, although it may be difficult to put a price on such a unique work of art. What is a 1-ton dinosaur worth these days?

He gets marketing help from his wife, Annie, a graphic artist who created and maintains a website for the Kawchack Metal Art and Design business (www.kawchackmetalart.com).

While the Kawchacks are actively promoting the finished Styracosaurus, Rick is already considering what kind of dinosaur to build next. One decision has already been made, according to Annie: Rick is going to need a bigger shop. His next project will be a dinosaur that makes the Styracosaurus look, well, a bit puny.