It looked a lot like Christmas earlier this month at the Cement Masons Local 633 apprenticeship training center in New Brighton, where the local’s 20 first- and second-year apprentices constructed an enormous seasonal landscape out of concrete.
The display, unveiled to members at the local’s holiday party last week, spreads across the floor of the facility’s warehouse-like training area. It features 13 yards of concrete shaped into festive signs of the season, from Christmas trees to gift-wrapped boxes.
Instructors Moke Eaglefeathers and Dave Schutta designed the landscape with the help of a handful of apprentices. The display reflects the different skills apprentices learn as part of the trade, from mapping and form work to various finishing styles.
“It’s a good way to break the apprentices in,” Eaglefeathers said. “What better way than to get them on a project right away that lets them use their imaginations, lets them be kids again?”
The project teaches another important skill: patience. It took three weeks of work to complete.
The holiday display has been a part of Local 633’s curriculum for the last five years or so, Eaglefeathers said, but the instructors have never seen a display as impressive as this year’s.
“We try to one-up ourselves every year,” he said. “We don’t know how we’re going to one-up ourselves after this.”