LaRock moved to Florida at age 18 "just to see what it was like," then spent a year in New Hampshire before returning to Vermont. Over the years, he's worked for at least half of the auto body shops in the Burlington area, he said, ticking off their names in rapid succession.
In his twenties, LaRock began making metal flowers out of old rotary saw blades. He estimated that he's sold or given away about 100 of those. Then he began crafting other objects: bumblebees, birds, caterpillars, dinosaurs. Once, he said, he made a robot modeled after the Bender character in the Fox cartoon "Futurama." LaRock claimed the piece sold 10 minutes after he finished it.
"Everything I use is recycled metal," he explained, describing the flea markets and scrapyards where he buys his supplies. "A lot of people, if you tell them it's for art, they ... drop the price. They're like, 'Oh, instead of $10, I want $2 for that bucket of horseshoes.'"
LaRock's move to his current location in June has been great for both sides of his business, he said. For years, he ran his auto body shop out of his house in Hinesburg at the end of a dirt road; few customers passed by.
Even there, though, the occasional automotive client would notice his creative wares and make a purchase. LaRock built several characters from The Wizard of Oz that proved popular, including flying monkeys and a waving Tin Man holding an ax.
About three years ago, LaRock walked into the S.P.A.C.E. Gallery on Burlington's Pine Street and asked owner Christy Mitchell if he could show some of his work there.
"He brought in a few pieces, and I knew immediately there'd be a market for them," recalled Mitchell, whose venue is all about cultivating new talent. LaRock's work was unique, she said, and his price point was right.