By Gilbert McCann: Metal Sculptor

The 'Ted's Dragon' sculpture, by Gilbert McCann

Ted's Dragon was a commissioned piece for a traditional, Japanese Tranquility Garden. As the story goes, these gardens are guarded by a ferocious dragon whose task it is to draw out all the dark feelings and emotions. This allows the visitors to then enter the garden and bask in the serenity of their surroundings.

The only direction was to make this dragon frightening. I was given a shovel used in the creation of this garden. I was asked to use it somewhere within the sculpture. I began by using the head of the shovel as the top of the dragon's head. (See the first thumbprint picture below.) If you look down the sculpture's throat today it is possible to still see the neck of the shovel head.

Eight months, some seven hundred fifty hours, one thousand three hundred forty-five scales, and seventy-eight handmade teeth later, Ted's Dragon was born. During this process, I was bitten twice, bled on it from cuts from its scales and branded once with an upper-case G (my first initial) on my finger. (See the picture below.) I found this to be most perplexing, surprising, and unusual. All of these mishaps made me feel that Ted's Dragon was more than just a steel sculpture. It had taken on lifelike characteristics. By the way, we are not sure what its gender is. Ted asked it and then reported back that it refused to tell him. So he decided, that since it wasn't talking to him, it must be a "she."

Ted's Dragon was placed in her permanent home at the gateway to the garden in July 2013, just in time for the Southeastern Michigan LaCasa Annual Garden Tour. She quickly became a hit of all visitors to the garden, taking on the task for which she was created.


Length: 8 feet
Width: 4 feet 6 inches
Height: 3 feet


Sheet metal, steel rod and tubing, shovel head.


Commissioned by and sold to Ted Zahrfeld

Click on any image below to see a larger overlay view of this sculpture.