Sculpting Wildlife

The outline of the giant gator is drawn out on the plywood.The alligators, created in two sections, will be united at its final destination.

Polysterene is cut to fit in between the plywood guides. The concrete thickness is 2 1/2 in. Even so this front section will weigh 950 lbs. when done.

The plywood template for the tail joining is used twice.

First a layer of diamond lath(mesh) covers the polysterene. Mostly #3 rebar is used as reinforcement. Some 1/4-in. threaded rod is used for smaller areas.

Another layer od diamind mesh goes over the top of the rebar for a sort of metal sandwich.

A lot of metal is included in the thinner areas of the tail. Polysterene is in the center here too. It will weigh 350 lbs. when finished.

Luan board head shapes are used to aid the sculpting process. #3 bar bends nicely, while giving the sculpture strength.

Note the 1 1/2-in. rollers on tracks, which helps loading the 1300-lbs. creature.

Kennedy's family helped out with texturing the day of the actual sculpting.

Kennedy's son (left), his wife (center), and first cousin (right) worked on the texturing from 7:45 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a few breaks.

Damp curing went on for about 12 days.

It is not easy to "train" concrete to make some of these shapes. Temporary dams are set up, then taken down for carving.

Using a forklift, the alligator was moved into position.

Kennedy has made a number of alligators, sea turtles, reindeer, lions, and leopards featured in zoos, museums, businesses, and homes.

The alligator now resides in its permanent home at the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, Pa.

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