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Historic Sculpture Takes Full Form in Lambertville Foundry

By Hoag Levins ...| ...Oct 2, 2003

Also See:
An Oct. 1 Photo Visit to The Lambertville Foundry

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. -- One hundred forty-five years to the month after its bones were excavated from a Haddonfield marl pit, Hadrosaurus foulkii has risen
Foundry Hadro
Photo: Hoag Levins
In the raw: The Hadrosaurus foulkii sculpture that will be installed in Lantern Lane. Also see larger photo.

from fire and molten metal to once again wow the world.

Amidst the brilliant bursts of welders' torches and the shooting sparks of grinding wheels, Haddonfield's famous dinosaur took full form as a bronze sculpture this week as the head was attached to the rest of the massive figure.

First sighting
Wednesday morning, led by sculptor John Giannotti, members of the HATCH dinosaur sculpture committee arrived at the Stewart Sculpture Casting foundry to view the bronze beast that has been the focus of so much of their attention over the last year.

Standing in the center of a two-story metal shop, looking as if it had just turned the corner and was cautiously watching their awed approach, the massive figure did not disappoint them.

Haddonfield's usually unflappable Mayor, Tish Colombi, was the first to walk through the huge entry doors. She stopped dead in her tracks, speechless, craning her neck to take in the full height of the creature. Her eyes glistened momentarily with the hint of rapidly blinked back tears.

"It is absolutely remarkable,"
Tish Colombi
Photo: Hoag Levins
Haddonfield Mayor Tish Colombi studies the dinosaur sculpture casting details explained by artist John Giannotti. Also see larger photo.

she said, finally breaking into a wide smile. "Absolutely remarkable."

"This is as exciting as having a baby," said HATCH Committee co-chair Jan Twitchell, standing at her side.

'A rare day'
"This is such a rare day," said co-chair Beverly Aldeghi, also nearby. "None of us will never forget what it was like this morning to see this. What a presence the thing has. It's incredible. I can't wait to see it in Lantern Lane."

The sculpture is Giannotti's life-like depiction of Hadrosaurus foulkii as it finishes having a drink and prepares to move on across the Cretaceous landscape of 80 million years ago.

The work commemorates the historic 1858 discovery of the animal's fossilized bones in Haddonfield. That find included enough of the creature's skeleton to document, for the first time anywhere in the world, the actual anatomy of a dinosaur. Hadrosaurus foulkii is a major landmark in the world history of dinosaur discovery.

Wowed the world
It was also the first dinosaur fossil ever put on museum display and
Photo: Hoag Levins
Cast in 35 pieces that were then welded together like a large puzzle, the sculpture will undergo intensive surfacing work before it is complete. Also see larger photo.

became a world sensation as such in the late 1880s. But it was soon overshadowed by the new discoveries of much larger and more ferocious dinosaurs that resulted from the bone-digging rush its own discovery and display triggered. By the early 1900s, Haddonfield's paleontological importance had completely faded from the public mind until a local Boy Scout project publicized it again in the 1980s. Since then, Hadrosaurus foulkii has been the subject of increasing newspaper, television, Internet features and news coverage.

The sculpture was envisioned three years ago by members of the Haddonfield Garden Club who formed the HATCH (Haddonfield Acts To Create Hadrosaurus) Committee. A year ago, the project to create the sculpture and rebuild Lantern Lane into a dinosaur garden park was launched. The bronze figure is scheduled to be officially unveiled and dedicated in a 1 p.m., Oct. 18, ceremony in Lantern Lane.

Assembled from 35 separate castings, the 8-foot, 3-inch-high statue was still crisscrossed with raw welding seams that gave it a vaguely Frankenstein-like look in a metal shop where chains draped down from overhead girders like vines.

Surfacing work
Foundry owner Dana Stewart explained that both the coloring
Stewart Foundry
Photo: Hoag Levins
Foundry metal artist Ali Ahmad works on another sculpture with Hadrosaurus foulkii in the background. Also see larger photo.

and surface texture of the sculpture were still in their raw state and would be the focus of at least another week's intensive work before the figure was completely finished. After that it will be carefully loaded onto a flatbed truck and delivered to downtown Haddonfield for installation a few days before the Oct. 18 unveiling ceremony.

Stewart noted that the dinosaur was one of the largest and most unusual sculptures his foundry has ever produced.

"The casting business all hinges on the final pouring of the bronze into the mold," he said. "If you haven't done everything correctly right up to that point, you can have a blowout or a miscast. In this case, it was almost as if everything wanted to turn out right."

Stewart, a sculptor and transplanted San Diego native, has operated his foundry in the heavily-wooded hills above this picturesque artist community for nearly 20 years.

Rubber molds
He noted that the casting process used for Hadrosaurus foulkii employs rubber molds that can be reused for making as many as 30 duplicates of a bronze sculpture.

"If anyone wants another one of these for their front lawn, just let us know," he said with a laughing wave to the towering dinosaur just outside his office door.

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Past Hadro News:

> Haddonfield Dinosaur Sculpture Park Nears Completion
> Hadrosaurus Day at Camden Stadium Raises Funds
> Walking With Dinosaurs: Dino Day in Haddonfield
> Hadrosaurus Sculpture Nears Completion
> Sculptor Opens Studio for Dinosaur Sculpture 'Clay Day'
> Full Size Rendering of Dinosaur Sculpture Unveiled
> John Gianotti Selected for Dinosaur Sculpture Project
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