At this Saskatoon shop, come for the metal recycling, stay for the crazy art installations

The Transformers arrived first. The T. Rex, named Rusty, "showed up about three months later," says Mark Riffel, the owner of BN Steel and Metals.

Transformers, a T. Rex and a rusty globe greet customers at BN Steel and Metals

BN Steel and Metals owner Mark Riffel calls the metal recycled dinosaur in front of his shop Rusty. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

The Transformers — Bumblebee and Optimus Prime — arrived first.

The T. Rex, named Rusty, "showed up about three months later," says Mark Riffel.

A Universal Studios theme park in Saskatoon? Nope.

That's just a rundown of some of the recycled-material monuments greeting customers at the entrance of BN Steel and Metals in Saskatoon's North Industrial area.

The Transformers, also made from recycled materials, came from an artist in Thailand. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

"We wanted to put up something that's going to draw attention as well as show the public what can be done with recycled metals," said Riffel, the owner of the decades-operating salvage yard currently located by the corner of Quebec Avenue and 41 Street E.

"There is a reuse side to things that [don't] just have to be melted down and made into the same old piece of steel or plate or pipe. There's a creative side."

Superman-inspired globe

The Transformers were created and shipped in 2014 by an artist in Thailand, while the dinosaur was specially commissioned from the same artist by Riffel.

But a nearby large metal globe was made by Riffel himself, with the help of a friend, over three winter months before it made its debut at the yard on Earth Day in 2017.

Riffel made the globe, inspired by Superman's Daily Planet, himself. It turned until Riffel feared that might invite people to ride on it. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

Riffel was inspired by the Daily Planet globe from the Superman comic books and films.

"It's obviously done with scrap from the yard in Saskatoon," which includes everything from soup cans to airplane parts, said Riffel.

No riding it

He had to scale things down exhibition-wise, however.

"I intended originally to have it on an old telephone pole that was out front. It would be a little too heavy for that," he said.

The globe even turned, he added.

"We thought that would be dangerous. People spinning it and things like that, or riding around in circles. So we ended up just fixing it in one position."

This is Africa, as depicted on Riffel's globe. His yard takes everything from soup cans to airplane parts. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

So when can we expect his next creation? Riffel says he'll probably release another one on Earth Day 2019.

"I have some ideas," he said.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

All-platform journalist for CBC Saskatoon

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