A dinosaur makes its way to San Antonio
They came to the Concrete Decor Show looking to build a concrete dinosaur — and make a donation. That was the case for concrete artists Thom Hunt of Fairbury, Neb., and Mark Whitten of Mason City, Iowa. The concrete show gave the pair the forum and the Wittie Museum of Natural History in San Antonio gave them the inspiration.
A diverse collection of supplier and other artisans donated products and services, including Bosch Power Tools, Smith Paints and H&C Concrete. The pair led a small crew in creating a master work. Local pipefitter Kirby Whitehead was an example of the effort. He donated his shop to build the frame of the concrete dinosaur, which proved too large to build at the convention center. Whitten also used the shop as sleeping quarters for a week while Hunt slept in a van in the driveway.
The concrete dinosaur-building effort was created to share techniques in large-scale public art projects, but also to promote R.A.T. Training (Rock Carvers, Artisans and Themebuilders), a society of artists who work in non-traditional mediums like cement. The concrete dinosaur, a Portland cement structure built on a steel frame covered in a plaster skin, weighed in at 8,600 pounds.
The texture of the concrete dinosaur was done by hand using a paint brush on fresh plaster to create a rough surface; the thousands of scales on the structure were each hand-carved using hand tools. The crew also used the Bosch MX-30 oscillating tool and new concrete-grinding blades to make delicate cuts and detail markings around dinosaur nails, feet and legs.
The concrete dinosaur’s connection to the community
“The Wittie Museum found Acrocanthosaurus footprints on its site years ago, so we looked to tie our donation to that novelty,” said Hunt. “We felt this dinosaur had a strong connection to the community, something that was important to our donation.” The lesser-known Acrocanthosaurus is a “high-spined lizard” found exclusively in the U.S. and particularly in south central Texas.
Classes conducted by Hunt and Whitten during the event included armature fabrication and structural training, carving and texture, and a dedicated student day.
The concrete dinosaur is currently on display at the Wittie Museum of Natural History in San Antonio