The Swetsville Zoo in Timnath, CO is actually a sculpture garden showcasing the wild imagination of Bill Swets. Filled with creatures made from metal scraps including parts from cars, tractors, and motorcycles, this “zoo” includes dinosaurs, birds, insects, reptiles, dragons, even people and flowers. The two things all Swets’ creations have in common: they are all made from recycled materials and they all make you smile.
The first thing I saw when we arrived should have told me what was in store. I’m not sure if you have to keep your dinosaurs under 5 mph or you drive under 5 mph because of the dinosaurs. Either way, I was in.
There were LOTS of dinosaurs. This was one of my favorites (complete with a bird’s nest in its mouth):
There were quite a few dragons as well.
While I liked his ants and other smaller insects, his giant praying mantis was my favorite.
I found his birds charming, too.
Last but not least, here’s something that reminded me of the goblins from the movie Labyrinth (note the little driver in the mechanized monster’s open mouth):
All the articles I found online talk about the looming demise of this unusual garden. Big box stores have been built right next door and there are plans for more development in the near future. But the Swetsville Zoo is still open (no entry fee! Donations welcome) for your enjoyment and I am hoping it will last. Get there while you can.
For a long time now, I’ve been thinking about knitting myself a dragon. While I love the body shape of the knit Nessie I made a few years ago, I have yet to figure out how to adapt it to make a dragon. So I looked online for patterns to see if someone else has already come up with a design I would like. I found more cutesy dragons than realistic ones, but perhaps that’s not so surprising when you consider they are all made from friendly, fluffy yarn.
“Crikey, I’d like a dragon.” — Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Just as there are lots of different kinds of dragons in the world, there are many different sorts of dragon lovers out there. But there is one thing most of us have in common. We are all Hagrid. We all want to own a dragon. Whether we dream of riding a dragon of Pern or flying with Toothless, we agree that dragons make awesome friends. However, they’re hard to find and challenging to feed, so we have to make do with substitutes. Here are some ways to get a dragon in your house without having to knock out a wall or buy a herd of cattle.
When I was at the bead show in Tuscon in February, I got to see Cindy Hulsey’s wonderful beaded dragon in person. The dragon is part jewelry, part puppet, and lays along your forearm. I was reminded of Anne McCaffrey’s cat-sized fire lizards, tiny dragons perfect for apartment dwellers. You can get the pattern and all the beads needed to make it from Hulsey’s Etsy site CCBeadwork2.
Another Etsy artist takes a more whimsical approach. Olga Shirobana’s soft-sculpture dragons remind me of Toothless, from the movie How To Train Your Dragon. Big-eyed and sleek, her made-to-order dragons would make great companions.