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Duck Pond Dragon Out For Repairs
A Refit From Bottom To Top
May 25, 2012
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F
or the first time in 8 years, Oriental’s Duck Pond is dragon-less. The mosaic glass sculpture was taken out of the Duck Pond on Mother’s Day weekend and is about to undergo repairs in a studio about a mile away.

Dragon out of water.

The dragon is once again under the care of Gary Gresko who created it in 2004. At Gary’s studio, the sculpture will get a much-needed refit, literally from the top of the dragon’s head to its bottom, under the water. This could take a few months.

Duck Pond dragon with a passenger, in a photo taken in March, several weeks before the dragon’s keel went kaput. In addition to its keel being repaired, the dragon will also get some scales replaced on the ridge of its back. It may have lost them due birds such as this one breaking the scales off. Sculptor Gary Gresko says he’s taking steps to prevent that in future..
Keel Kaput After 8 Years

Keels are not standard equipment on most dragons, but a keel was necessary to keep this one upright in Oriental’s Duck Pond. In 2004, Gary put what he describes as an I-beam under the dragon’s platform. It may not have been sophisticated in terms of naval architecture, but for 8 years, it pretty much worked.

Sure, the dragon would occasionally fall over on its side after high winds and high water — Hurricane Irene provides one example in recent memory. But once storm conditions subsided, it generally wasn’t hard to get the dragon back in to its upright position. One of the dragon’s human minders would paddle out, gently give the dragon a shove with an oar or kayak paddle, and the dragon would pop right back up.

Dragon on its side, Mothers’ Day weekend. Greg Piner tried to right it, but there wasn’t enough keel left to keep the dragon upright. That led to it being taken out of the water.

On Mother’s Day weekend, however, that usual trick didn’t work. Folks who paddled out to right the dragon, couldn’t. No matter what they tried, the dragon wouldn’t stay up. Gary Gresko says the reason soon became obvious. The dragon’s steel keel — a foot-deep when deployed in 2004 — had disintegrated. All that was left was a stub with just a few inches of rust. There was no counterweight.

Disintegrated keel. It’d been in the Duck Pond water for 8 years. Anti-fouling paint was not applied nor was maintenance done. The dragon just floated, until the keel decayed so much that it didn’t provide enough counterbalance to keep the dragon upright.
Rethinking The Keel

Gary Gresko says the steel beam keel “got eaten by the Duck Pond.” The brackish water did its thing, as salt will do to steel, though Gary somewhat darkly suggests the waters there (it was once used as a dump) could be “keel-eating,” if not flesh-eating.)

For the dragon, the bottom line was that it had no bottom.

Gresko will build a new keel in the next month or two. This time he says, “there’s no point messing around” with something that would again provide a home for barnacles or fall victim to electrolysis. No bare steel construction this time.

Gary Gresko, at left, shows how he envisions copper sheathing will cover the side of the dragon’s platform and extend around the keel. .

Gary toyed with the idea of a concrete keel, but now is focusing more on a keel made of a combo of lead and copper – using copper plate and pipe to create a bulb keel and to enclose the lead, and then using copper sheathing around the edge of the dragon’s platform. He’s envisioning a deeper keel, of perhaps 17 inches. (First some reconnaissance of Duck Pond depths in the swinging circle may be in order.)

A Retrofit From Bottom To Top

Not all of Gresko’s efforts will be below the water line. The dragon’s topsides need some attention as well.

For instance, the dragon has some bare spots along the ridge of its back. Eight years of the elements — ice in winter, heat and humidity in summer, and the occasional falling over in to the water may have compromised the glass. In addition, Gary Gresko suggests another culprit at work: wildlife.

Dragon’s broken back.

Back in 2004, Gary has stuck shards of green glass (from Yeungling bottles) sharp side up along that ridge so that it would better resemble scales and catch the glint of light. He thought that would also prevent small animals and birds from perching on the humps of the dragon’s back. It worked for a while.

The glass on the dragon’s sides generally stayed put, but those shards of green glass along the top of the dragon’s back, did not. In the repair sessions, the dragon will get new paint on the cement between the glass pieces.

But Gary may have underestimated the animals’ determination to use the dragon as a couch. Despite — or because of — those sharp pieces of glass, the glass is gone from the dragon’s back. (Those exposed edges could have made them easier to pry off.)

Whether it was animals or the elements, the result is that the humps of the dragon’s back are stripped of Yeungling green and show patches of bare white concrete. “Insult to injury, that just gave the birds a steady perch.

Gary Gresko’s alter ego, Dr. Otto Braunschweiger on a consultation visit to the ailing Duck Pond dragon.

(Ahead, herons and hurricanes harrass the dragon.)

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Posted Friday May 25, 2012 by Melinda Penkava


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