Sam Vigil started building plaster and concrete casts of animals and statues, birdbaths and fountains eight years ago, and he says business has never been better and looks as if it will boom this year.
The owner and manager of Garden Decor, 4480 S. Third West, Vigil says he can make nearly 1,000 different items from plaster and concrete for yards and home interiors and has even started building decorator objects from fiberglass."Outside statues, birdbaths and fountains have been big in California for years and are just starting to catch on big in Utah, especially in the Salt Lake area," Vigil said.
"I went through a lot of lean years with this business and it's all beginning to pay off now. A growing number of people in this area - especially rich people - really like to decorate their yards with deer, squirrels, rabbits, birds and other animals.
"Fountains are big sellers, too, and Greek and Roman statues. We build our own molds here, pour everything ourselves and we paint what we sell. Some people like to buy our art objects and paint them themselves and that's fine, too."
The life-size 400-pound stag standing in a display yard next to Vigil's office looks real enough to turn heads and the birds and small animals Vigil and his employees have painted look like they just came out of the woods.
He works six and often seven days a week at the Murray store and at a molding plant he has established in Sandy and makes house calls to design yards and home interiors.
Some of his fountains and statues are more than 15 feet tall, but he makes thousands of small busts - from Mozart to Napoleon - that are only a foot or two high.
"Inside, plaster of Paris is fine, but outside you want concrete or fiberglass to withstand the weather."
Why would somebody want to put a 100 pound statue of a wood nymph or a 300-pound birdbath in their yard?
"They look great, really," says Vigil. "Birds come and sit on the fountains and baths. Everybody, from the grandparents to the kids, loves to look at the animals. It's a lot of fun."