Look up East Cloverly Road while on South Broad Street.
Then rubberneck to steal a glance at a long-necked structure.
This life-size giraffe is not hard to spot.
Well, maybe it was, according to Fremont artist Brian Weber.
Douglas Gubbels of Ames built it from steel, welding the joints.
He asked Weber to paint the three-dimensional animal.
“I was overwhelmed by the art piece itself,” Weber said.
The sculpture presented some challenges.
“It was basically painting the giraffe four times,” Weber said.
“Anywhere you look you can see the spots,” Gubbels said.
“I used an airbrush — and a lot of math skills,” Weber noted.
“It was a very unique challenge — to make something better that was already great,” Weber added.
Gubbels flashed a smile at the results. It’s one of hundreds of projects created by Gubbels.
“I have a million ideas I haven’t gotten to,” Gubbels noted.
Even customers suggest things.
Barb Newill of Fremont had an idea for a surprise Christmas gift for a relative.
“You show it to him — and he can do it,” Newill said.
“If it can be made out of steel, I’ll attempt it,” he said.
He displays other pieces at his Snowy River Ironworks business.
There are penguins, hippos and rhinos ....
Recycled steel underwent a metamorphosis and became a butterfly bench.
Demand is also growing for lighted metal palm trees up to 13 feet tall.
He was raised on a farm in Randolph. As a teen, he helped his father and uncle build or repair equipment.
That sparked an interest.
“We couldn’t afford to buy it — we had to make it,” Gubbels said. “I fell in love with welding.”
He built tanks for open pit gold mines in South Dakota and worked 21 years in the sign business. Then six years welding at All Metals Market in Fremont.
After years of designing art and steel structures freehand, these days he can also work at a computerized plasma cutting table.
The most challenging projects?
“Big rock signs — because of the weight,” Gubbels said.
Kevin Yount of Fremont, owner of All Metals Market, displays an Eiffel Tower and a Golden Gate Bridge at his business.
Beyond the aesthetic value, it is an educational opportunity for visiting students, Yount explained.
“He is the best artist I’ve seen when it comes to metals,” Yount added.
“Doug is a master in metals,” Weber said.