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Artists, Engineers And Scientists Collaborate To Build Colorful Sculpture of The Utah Raptor

Picture: Orbital ATK

LOGAN — When art student, Justin Tolman, pitched his idea to Utah State University’s Geology department he had envisioned a sculpture 1/6th the size of the actual dinosaur.



“With those dimensions I could cut it in half and cook it at home with the oven in my department,” Tolman said.

But the Geology department told Tolman- we want it bigger.

“Eventually we moved up to a 1/3 scale. Two foot one inch in height, at the crown of the head, and six foot two inches from the tip of the tail to the tip of the nose,” Tolman said. ”

Pictures: Orbital ATK

That was too big for his kiln and it turned out too complicated to use any of the University’s ovens. So Tolman turned to the nearby Orbital ATK. He said his dad works at the aerospace company and new they had several giant ovens.

“They build rockets. They were willing to let us use one of their smaller ovens,” Toman said. “It was the size of a semi-trailer.”

Kenneth Kehoe, USU Geology Department, Justin Tolman, USU student artist, and Rachel
Tolman, Justin’s wife and assistant.
Picture: Orbital ATK

The company also lent them a team of engineers to help keep the oven at the perfect temperature.

“Engineers were oohing and ahhing as it came off the trailer into the oven. They all wanted to get selfies with it,” Tolman laughed.

Picture: Orbital ATK

He is now working on painting the sculpture. Scientists don’t know exactly what it looked like, so Tolman has based the color scheme after one of Utah’s most colorful raptor birds- the kestral.

“This is far and away the largest sculpture I’ve done,” Tolman said. “It has been an adventure.”

Picture: Orbital ATK

The USU Geology department plans to install the sculpture in their museum later this month. Tolman said it might be moved, but at last word the unveiling was planned for April 18th.