Community - August 10, 2011

Portola Valley: Steel deer sculpture under repair

by Dave Boyce

Portola Valley's rust-brown deer of steel will be returning soon to the lawn at Triangle Park at the corner of Alpine and Portola roads.

Sculptor Kristine Taylor of Corte Madera Road has the sculpture in her driveway, a few feet from where her father, Wallace "Wally" Davis, took up a gas welding torch in 1974 to build it. Ms. Taylor is repairing it, adding some 40 feet of half-inch steel rod to replace pieces that had fallen off over the years.

Mr. Davis (who is deceased) used the steel rod and some artistically placed triangular steel plates to fashion the torso of a large buck, with antlers made of one-inch steel reinforcing bar. The sculpture stands about 12 feet high and weighs in at around 250 pounds, said Glenn Taylor, Ms. Taylor's husband.

To transport the sculpture to the Taylors for repair, three men from Town Hall used a flatbed truck, Ms. Taylor said. The town had it in storage in the corporation yard at Town Center after removing it from the park in the fall of 2010. It would have gotten in the way while upgrading the park for access to people with disabilities.

The deer also had kids climbing on it, Assistant Town Manager Janet McDougall said in a phone interview. "It's old and some of the welds were coming apart. We were a little bit concerned about putting it back without fixing it."

Ms. Taylor, the daughter of the original sculptor and a longtime welder, offered her services. Indeed, welding is what brought her and her husband together. Mr. Taylor ran a Peninsula wind surfing shop and needed someone to build wind-surfing simulators for sale all over the world, he said.

She had been working for a scale-modeling company. "One day, she asked me if I had a job for her," Mr. Taylor recalled. "I said I needed a welder. She said 'I can learn any tool.'" She practiced for half a week and he hired her, he said. He had made the first 300 simulators; she made the next 900, he said.

"My dad taught me to use all kinds of tools," Ms. Taylor told the Almanac.

For seven years, she and her husband have welcomed the robotics team from Woodside High School into their garage and well-equipped machine shop. She helps them with the tricky business of welding aluminum and he offers help and advice on using a metal lathe.

When the deer goes back, Ms. McDougall said, it will be located so as to discourage climbing and encourage recognition of what it is:


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