George Voutselas has a dragon on his front lawn and he doesn’t know what to do with it.
Voutselas, a blacksmith by trade, used to wake up every morning and create original art pieces such as tables and headboards for high-end clientele back when he ran his own company in 2008.
Due to various economic factors, including last year’s recession, Voutselas was forced to declare bankruptcy and put a hold on his career as an artist.
Drowning in debt and out of options, he took on a retail job in East York.
“I used to feed myself with my own hands,” Voutselas said of how it felt to be self-employed. “When I first started out, all I wanted to do was make a name for myself.”
He got his start blacksmithing purely through experimentation. He used to work at a desk job and he played with paper clips, shaping them into pieces of furniture he pictured in his head.
“I wanted this table but I couldn’t find anyone to make it,” he said. “So one day, without having any skills, I found the raw materials and made it myself.”
Voutselas worked for himself for over 10 years and employed up to five people at a time at his Toronto workshop. During his tenure working as a blacksmith, some of his finest work included a headboard made of branching rose vines, complete with thorns and painted petals.
“So much creative thought went into it (the headboard),” he said. “Friends who knew me for years were stunned and asked, ‘How did you make this?'”
Voutselas regards the 650-pound dragon, complete with wings and scales, as his epitome piece.
“I just love dragons and I thought to myself, ‘How cool would it be to make one?'” he said.
Once he figured out what materials he was going to use, he estimated the dragon would be about five- to six-feet high and take approximately six weeks to make.
“In order to create the body, I used 550 feet of chain, which I hand-welded link by link,” he said. “As for the spikes and the claws, it took me four straight days of hammering them with a five-pound hammer.”
“When people eventually saw it, they were amazed,” he said.
Voutselas didn’t make the dragon with the intention of selling it and he is now struggling to find a home for it.
He said he tried donating it to various places, including corporate buildings, banks and places where cultural events are held, but in the end, nobody took him up on his offer.
“This piece (the dragon) was very difficult to make,” he said. “It needs to be seen. I’d rather put it on display where hundreds of people could see and appreciate it.”
For now, he will use the dragon as a Halloween decoration. He’s even bought a fog machine to make it look scarier. But once the trick-or-treating comes to an end, this dragon will need a permanent home.
“It would kill me if it (the dragon) just ends up sitting in my yard,” he said. “I would just like to see it appreciated while I’m still alive.”
To see more of Voutselas’ work, click here.