Cabela’s, a national retailer of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, designs its stores with elaborate dioramas of outdoor scenes teeming with life. Besides taxidermists, artists and landscapers, the chain has come to rely on the talents of decorative concrete professionals to help bring these displays to life.
Among these pros is Jamie Hunt of Big Bamboo Studios, the project manager and lead artist at a Cabela’s in Buffalo, New York. He worked alongside Sergio Cruz, Jeff Folkes, Chris Karlik and Josh Huntoon on their first creation for Cabela’s. And if the men have their way, it won’t be the last.
Working from a set of plans drawn by Cabela’s architects and designers, Big Bamboo Studios created a 3-D model at 3/4-inch scale and submitted that for review. “Cabela’s primarily looks for horizontal space to put in a lot of taxidermy so we work hard to accommodate that,” says Hunt. “We also spent a lot of time on the vertical faces and pride ourselves on our rock looking real.”
One challenge Cabela’s encountered in the past was with water features. This display features water flowing from 10 feet back on the second tier, falling 8 feet into a catch basin and then running off into an aquarium. “That’s the focal point,” says Hunt. “We made sure we made that correctly. It was a big concern of Cabela’s because they had tried doing waterfalls like this in the past and they would get too much splash. We were able to hit that spot on the first time.”
About 4,000 square feet of rockwork went into this job. They started the job near the end of March 2014 and finished in mid-May. “We definitely had fun building this mountain and look forward to working with Tenji Inc., the aquarium life-support specialists, and Cabela’s design team to build many more,” says Hunt. Big Bamboo Studios uses SpiderLath, a fiberglass lath system, shotcrete and Smith Paints on all of its rockwork.