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Chilliwack meets Dollywood

A Chilliwack metal sculptor has caught the eye of one of the most prolific belles south of the border.

Nine months ago Kevin Stone, of Metal Animation, was approached by Dollywood, a Tennessee theme park owned by country music star Dolly Parton, requesting he build them a metal sculpture comparable to Parton's voluptuous personality.

The result: a massive, $250,000 bald eagle with a wing span of 48-feet from tip to tip, and a head that hovers more than two stories high.

"This is the largest eagle in the world," boasted Stone.

It's also the third in a series of eagles Stone has completed.

Unlike the first two, which were all stainless steel, this bird has a combination of both stainless and rusted steels – as requested by Dollywood.

The adventure theme park is a throwback, featuring a steam engine train and a wooden roller coaster, bluegrass music, blacksmithing exhibitions and other such turn-of-the-century crafts.

A shiny sculpture wouldn't fit with Dollywood's Cold Mountain like culture.

"They didn't want the shiny metal, they wanted rust," said Stone, who had never done a rusted sculpture before.

At first he contemplated using rusted paints to create the effect, but eventually decided on a natural metal that could be turned rusty.

Stone used stainless steel for the eagle's head, tail and claws to emulate the whites of a bald eagle. The feathered body and outstretched talons were made of mild metal that Stone has been hosing down every night to start the rust-forming process.

"I want to get as much rust and patina on it as possible," said Stone. "Eventually it will turn a dark brown like that of an eagle's body.

"I think I've captured even more realism with this eagle than I did with my other two eagles."

Over the next two weeks, Stone will be finishing the bird's second wing.

The completed bird will weigh an estimated 1,500 pounds, and is engineered to withstand 170 km winds.

The eagle will be transported on a semi truck next month to Tennessee, where it will be the mascot of Dollywood's newest roller coaster, Wild Eagle, which opens in March.

Stone will be flying out to help with installation, and "hopefully meet Dolly," he said.

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kbartel@theprogress.com

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