It’s not every day you see a dragon in your neighbourhood, but Saanich residents living near Swan Lake just might.
At the end of August, artist and welder Dan Iocchelli moved a massive dragon onto his front yard with the help of a tow truck.
The 10-foot tall beast is made of metal and took him seven years to build. Like something out of a fantasy novel, Iocchelli’s ferocious dragon guards his driveway and a large treasure chest.
Seven years ago, Iocchelli – who works as a welder at Specific Mechanical Systems Ltd. in Saanichton – was in Toys R Us and spotted a little toy dragon. As a metal artist of many years, the idea to try his hand at building a dragon of his own popped into his head.
He began to build it in his garage with scrap stainless and mild steel from various bin dives and cedarwood because he wanted the dragon to stand the test of time. After three years, he needed to move it outside because as he worked, the dragon grew and grew – much bigger than he’d intended. Iocchelli started with the wings and they were just under two feet long, but once he began on the body, things got away from him.
Now, seven years and hundreds of parts later, the dragon stands in his front yard at 10 feet tall with a wingspan of 12 feet. There were moments when Iocchelli was scared during the building process as he spent a lot of time working under it. Each wing alone weighs 350 pounds, he noted. The dragon has been carefully secured and supported to make it safe for people to be around.
“It’s impossible to knock over,” he said proudly.
Iocchelli’s goal was for the dragon to look strong and like he’s “been around a long time.”
He hopes people will come by 3851 Douglas Street to take a photo with the dragon and share some name suggestions as the creature is currently nameless.
People have begun to stop by and one little boy even knocked on his door to compliment his art. Iocchelli’s favourite thing is seeing people interact with his art and his hope is that the dragon finds a home somewhere where people will see him often –“like an airport or a city centre,” said Iocchelli who plans to focus on art full time once he retires.
Check out Iocchelli’s other art on Instagram at @daniocchelli_metal_art.