Thursday, January 06, 2000

'Big Pig Gig' porkers on the way

Glass Hand will turn out 250 fiberglass swine

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Eric Kilb of Glass Hand displays walking pigs to be decorated. There also will be dancing pigs and sitting pigs.
(Saed Hindash photo)
| ZOOM |
        Pigs come in droves, and there's a drove of them at the Glass Hand in Cleves, where Eric Kilb is cloning porkers for the Big Pig Gig.

        “Right now we've got 10 walking pigs, one sitting pig and the dancing pig is in the mold,” said Mr. Kilb, the chief pig fabricator. “By the time we're in full production, we should be able to do one pig in each design every day.”

        The goal is to have 250 fiberglass pigs for artists to decorate for the Big Pig Gig, starting May 14 at the Flying Pig Marathon.

Where pigs once roamed
        The Big Pig Gig is an effort to put more pigs in downtown Cincinnati, Newport and Covington than there were in the 1830s when the city was dubed Porkopolis for its roaming pork population. The purpose is to promote the downtowns, raise money for the arts and have fun.

        It started with cows in Zurich, Switzerland, which produced 800 painted bovines. It was picked up by Chicago, which chipped in with 360 cows (commemorating the cow that supposedly kicked a lamp and started the Great Chicago fire in 1871).

        As many as 40 other cities are getting into the act. New York is doing cows; New Orleans is doing 5-by-7-foot redfish. Supporters of ArtWorks, a summer youth arts program, picked pigs for Cincinnati,

        “I wish each city would do it in a different year, so I could make them all,” says Mr. Kilb, who has landed the contract to produce a herd of fiberglass horses for Lexington, and is talking to Louisville about a horse project.

40-pound porkers
        The three big pigs are full size, about 5 feet long and 3 feet high. Whether they get wings is the artist's call.

        The fiberglass pigs are cast from original clay models. Don Holbrook of River City Scenic Inc. sculpted the walking pig. Jay Lemmel is the creator of the other two. They weigh about 40 pounds each, and they're designed to be bolted to 500-pound concrete bases to keep them from walking away.

        Pigs are no problem for Mr. Kilb. His Glass Hand studios does fiberglass fabrication for theme parks and corporations. Right now, they're working on parts for the new Son of the Beast roller coaster at Kings Island, and some dinosaur heads for the Field Museum in Chicago. They also do all the large Big Boys that stand in front of Frisch's restaurants.

        “I consider myself a technician and not an artist, but I am designing one pig, for Frisch's,” Mr. Kilb says. “It will be a Pig Boy, of course.”

        This month, artists will start to pick up their pigs and take them off to their studios.

        “We expect to be working with some artists who have special needs,” Mr. Kilb says. Painter Tom Bacher, for instance, is internationally known for his paintings that glow in the dark. “We're going to experiment to see if his special pigments can be impregnated right into the fiberglass,” Mr. Kilb says.

        Later this month, Mr. Kilb will be having workshops at the Glass Hand to teach artists how to paint and work with fiberglass.

        “It's not too difficult. You have to scuff the surface all over so the primer coat will hold. Then you can paint it just about any way you want.”

Folks having pun with pigs they buy

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