Lioness roundel

Think I figured out who made the lioness roundel, very likely American Terra Cotta co in Chicago, whose territory certainly would have included St Louis Mo.
I found in my book on the co history, a page from their old newsletter which is about 1914 showing a sampling of roundels for a livestock judging pavillion built for the University of illinois.
These have similar borders, and the quality of modelling with detail is strikingly similar, not that other TC co’s couldn’t do this, but the location and history make this co a likely one.
If so, then it’s also likely a well known Kristian Schneider was the modeller.

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Below is a photo of a concrete cast of lion 3886, unstained. This is 1 of 7 for a client who required embedded bolts on these to attach them to the wall on the exterior of his house over the windows.
This is just an example of some of the custom applications I am called upon to provide solutions for on retro- installations. As the client has access to the inside walls, his contractor will be able to drill 2 holes through the wood wall, spread on some thinset mortar or equiv., insert the rods through the wall and tighten the nuts up.
Outside he plans to stucco around the keystones and the wall.

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Board of Education seal model No. 27

This model is finished today, I hollowed out the backside and it’s firming up nicely.

Finished image

I don’t plan to make a mold of this immediately, but can do so at any time.

I have 2 other model ideas in mind to accomplish before summer closes, that lioness roundel detailed further below this post, and a small version of the Commodore Hotel sun-god copper cornice mask.

Also, after some consideration, I decided to eliminate the “-R” extension in my model numbering system. When I began my sculpting career I decided to add that “-R” to each model number I sculpted, so as to put a designated barrier between my own models, and casts made directly from the antique pieces.
It made perfect sense for a while, but over time and with the addition of many of my own models to my line, phasing out some of the old ones, and rarely now making molds of the antique pieces, it no longer makes sense to have almost every model followed by a “-R.”
Over time that -R extension will go away on all of the store pages etc., so don’t let that confuse you, just ignore the -R when inquiring about a cast by number.

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Art Deco 8B in resin

I finished casting the last of 12 panels in resin for a client who wants them for her bathroom.

Attached a photo of 8 of them stacked against the wall awaiting cleaning up and finishing, several together offer some interesting design ideas.

These will be solvent cleaned and then they get primed with automotive primer and painted dirty nickel. These will go around the bathroom walls as a frieze near the ceiling.

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Lioness roundel

I saw a photo of a very charming, very interesting sculpture on what was originally the offices of US Steel Co., 311 South Sarah st, St Louis.
In fact, on this small one story building there are 7 of them!

I really like this!

It was once a US Steel office but is now occupied by the US Metals & Supply Co, probably a subsidiary of theirs.
I’ve so far found absolutely nothing on this building which is surprising.

The roundel appears to be about 24″ in diameter, and is overlaid on an oblong rectangular panel. I’m definitely considering making a model.

By the way, as I discovered on a Canadian Architecture site, a little tidbit of roundel history;

Medallions (or roundels) were a very fashionable form of ornament during the Renaissance; the most famous medallion maker was Luca Della Robbia in Florence. These are plaques, usually round, bearing figures or family symbols in relief. Sometimes they have stories or anecdotes. In the Art Deco period, these were left plain.

A roundel is a small circular decorative plate used extensively in Renaissance courtyards and arcades often a niche containing a bust.

So what we see of this shape in the US on facades would be a throwback or tribute to the Renaissance style’s use of these, even if the facade is not fancy Renaissance style, they used a key element from the style.

Here’s a link to the site to learn all about the names of various elements found on building facades, you will discover what we have in the US on facades in the older cities all has it’s basis in form taken from Europe, which is logical since it was the imigrants in the 1870’s 1880’s and 1890’s coming through Ellis island in NYC for processing, who brought the styles and stone carving skills with them.
Thumbnail image courtesy of Wampa-One
Larger image here;

Larger photo

Canadian architectural terms site;

Art Deco

While waiting for the new model to firm up a bit more as the moisture evaporates from the clay slowly to finish detailing, refining and cleaning up the design, a client contacted me about my Art Deco panel 8B and the possibility of casting 12 of them thin to be used as tiles in her bathroom remodelling project.
After exchanging several emails about her project and discussing options, costs, advantages, disadvantages, I decided this project would work best with these cast being made in resin which is strong, lightweight, can be cast thin, and will accept the paints I use for most of my finishes.
As the client wanted the Old Dirty Nickel finish that will work just fine. The main drawback for resin is it’s cost, even casting these panels only 1/2″ thick it will take 4-1/2 gallons of resin, which for that amount runs a little over $275. That cost is about $9 more per panel which must be added onto my normal price for the cast-stone i normally use, but one advantage will be the fact that the shipping will cost her less, and the panels can ship in 1-2 boxes instead of 6-12, so the additional cost is partly if not completely offset by savings in shipping costs.
Resin is too expensive and more labor intensive to use for large, deep sculptures, it just takes too much of it, it begins setting rapidly, has to be brushed or troweled into the mold, and other techincal issues.
It also does not accept stains as I use for one of my finishes.

Resins tend to work best for sculptures like my 8B, or other relatively flat or small pieces.

Panel 8B Art Deco

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Education symbol model progress

8-7-10 photo;

Earlier photos;

I am thinking about adding something in the 2 bottom corners, so those are left unfinished for now!

Update; I experimented with a raised area in each corner but decided I didn’t like how it looked afer all, so the corners are just mitered.

A bit of historical trivia, from the July, 12th, 1898 NY Times;

The new seal of the Board of Education was used for the first time yesterday.The design is an open book, resting against the torch of wisdom, and surrounded by a wreath of ivy. Around the wreath are the words: Board of Education, City of New York.”

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Education symbol model started

After getting the shipment of 1000# of clay today, I started this new model of a collegiate gothic styled education symbol panel after one on Public School 27 which was demolished in 1976. PS 27 was built in 1906 and was located next door, West of the Daily News building on East 42nd st, NYC. CBJ Snyder was the architect.

The school was originally slated to be demolished in 1929, when it was only 23 years old! but the stock market crash forced plans for the site to vanish into thin air.

The model features a heavy bold frame reminiscent of the heavy frames used on large old oil paintings. Designed in collegiate gothic style, it frames the familiar education symbol’s open book, laurel leaf wreath and torch used by Universities, schools, libraries and other institutions of learning.

The symbol is used by the Board of Education, City of New York, and
this particular design is inspired by one used on PS 27, and other public schools in New York City.

FInished size of the panel should be about 23″ x 26″ and will be available in interior cast stone and concrete.
Inquiries are invited.

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Art Deco panels

Here’s a series of 6 Art Deco panels made for a restored Art Deco theater in Dell Rapids, S.D. The panels will be installed in the lobby with 3 new poster display cases.

I needed to cut 4 of the panels down to fit the allotted space, an inch off the left and right sides as trimmed off.
As the theater is newly restored and cleaned, we decided a slightly toned down nickel/silver rather than my dirty nickel finish would be appropriate, “new” looking to blend with the rest, but having a toned down look with an ever so slight age.
I think they should blend in quite nicely.

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Interior sculpture outdoors?

When I say “interior cast stone” v/s concrete versions, sometimes this might be confusing, so I thought I would illustrait what I mean and define it.

By “interior” this can include a covered porch or entry as well as your livingroom, with this version of my work I use a variety of interior paints, stains and other media to get an aged look. These are just fine under a covered porch, sun and freezing cold doesn’t bother them at all.

However, placing an interior cast stone out in the garden, keep in mind that rain will be soaking it, snow, ice and if laid on the ground they absorb moisture. The first thing that would happen is the interior paints would come off after some time, then when the finish is gone the rain and snow goes to work on the matrix of the sculpture itself.

Below is a photo of an experiment I did placing 2 interior pieces right out on the ground in the rain and weather about 5 years ago.
The one on the left is my Public School gargoyle head No 168, as you can see the rain and wind has created an interesting aged “sandblasted” look like the rocks in the desert of Nevada or Utah;

The one on the right is a section of Art Deco panel 8B, it is in better shape, and this all took about 5 years in Midwest harsh weather to accomplish.

Exterior concrete will not do this, that is why I use concrete for exterior casts, and it gets a special acid stain FOR concrete which does not fade, or peel in the weather.

So I let clients choose, if you wish to place an interior piece outdoors for some reason, order the Old Limestone Grey finish, and maybe apply some Thompson’s water seal to it once a year, and it should do just fine for at least several years at least, more so if placed so heavy rain doesn’t pound down on it as happened to the 168 head.

But for long life, choose concrete for the garden.

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Other model ideas

I will be ordering another half ton of clay very soon after I finish some major kitchen renovations.
I will be looking again at some ideas I put aside for new models, besides a book-torch symbol panel, I may make a small version of this massive cornice from the 1918 Commodore Hotel;

The face I believe is a representation of a sun-god, it also has some familiar elements with the mouth shape that reminds me strongly of the comedy/tragedy theater mask designs. The Commodore Hotel stood on 42nd street next to Grand Central Station but was stripped to it’s steel frame and Donald Trump’s glass monstrosity of a facade replaced it in 1980.
The interior was totally gutted as well.
The cornice mask appears in a picture book on architectural ornaments. There were about 180 copper masks made, a number of them were salvaged, an unknown number were destroyed.
A residence sized reduced scale version of this would be very interesting and dramatic looking on the wall. The cost would be quite affordable, and I would use my old green patina finish for this which I used many years ago, maybe with a minor updating to it ,I think it would look stunning.

Commodore hotel page

These were made in sections and riveted and soldered together.
Each mask was made in multiple pieces stamped out on a large pressing machine. The pieces were made by creating steel plates, a positive and a negative plate for the design, which meshed together but leaving a slight space between them in the design area. When the copper sheets were placed on the press between the plates, many tons of pressure were applied and the soft copper was forced into the shape and design.
Removed from the bed plate and trimmed to size and shape, each piece was hand assembled into the mask and the masks riveted and soldered to the backing sections.
Although it could technically be done, it would be all but impossible to produce these today due to the extremely prohibitive costs involved in producing the multiple pairs of steel plates required!

Some idea of how it’s done can be seen here;

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Client feedback

A couple of recent ones say it all;

One of the most unique and professional sellers I have met A+++++
(jim, Tennessee)

Incredibly gifted artist who knows how to work w you. Excellent shipper too! A+
(Connie, Miami beach, Fla)

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