Inspired by a terra cotta frieze
on the historic..
Nortown Theater...
Chicago, Illinois,
~ I present ~
Art Deco Nortown Spandrel Panel Nr D5
Modelled by Randall

Randall is an art scholarship recipient of Iowa Central Community College.

Hand-pressed kiln fired, red terracotta


NEW- Kiln fired red terracotta

I have begun producing my D5 panel in the manner of the 1890s-1930s era originals my work is based on, that is to say- genuine hand pressed, kiln fired terracotta made exactly the same way they were in the 1890s-1930s.

This is an exciting development of expanding into this new line of top quality durable kiln fired terracotta. Each hand pressed cast must be carefully dried over about two-three weeks, and hand detailed just as they did in the 1890s-1930s, of course production is much slower, and the hand labor is considerably more than the interior cast stone is, this will be reflected in the terracotta line's price.

Each of theses terracotta sculptures are personally signed, numbered and dated works of art.

Please note that hand pressed is NOT the same as the much cheaper, paper-thin ceramic "slip castings" used to produce teapots, china plates, bowls and ceramic pieces! The two processes are similar only in that both use a complicated plaster mold, the difference between slip casting ceramics and hand-pressing clay is- the slip is simply poured into the mold like a plaster cast, let set a while, drained and removed just like a plaster cast.

Slip casting is a condensation process, with the clay particles condensing by gravity, slip castings are usually very weak, very thin, and easy to break, this process is used for mass production.

Hand-pressed clay sculpture involves real work, physically taking the moist clay and both pressing and ramming small amounts of it into the plaster mold, pressing and working it in to remove air and squeeze the clay into all of the fine details. As the sculpture is built up to the top surface of the mold it is then levelled off on the back and hollowed out by hand, leaving the clay walls about 5/8"- 3/4" thick.


Once the pressed-clay has remained in the plaster mold used to form it for a few hours, it is carefully removed and laid on a wire rack to begin drying.

Here is another difference- the pressed-clay sculptures are completely gone over by hand with sculpture tools to add back any fine details, accent others, and generally clean up the whole surfaces, this is exactly the same processes used to create all of the architectural terracotta found on old buildings my work is based upon.

These sculptures are fired in the kiln @ 2,050 degrees for about 36 hours.


Tests that were done on this clay using the standard two hour water boil test revealed that the absorption rate of this clay is only 3% which is excellent, hard commercial bricks aim for a 5% - 6% water absorption to be used for building facades and garden walls exposed to the weather and rain, 3% puts my sculpture above grade in that regard for resistance to weather and rain, thus, this panel can be used in the garden, outside, or built into a brick wall.

Someone recently mentioned they "hate" terracotta because they had some in the garden that "fell apart," please do not confuse THAT type of mass produced Chinese -JUNK sold for $9.95 at Walmart with fine hand-made sculpture!

The reason their "terracotta" in the garden fell apart was that it was poorly made, poorly fired at the lowest possible temperature to save time and money, and the item was sold in garden stores cheap. This stuff is NOT real terracotta, I even suspect some of it is just red tinted plaster.

Due to clays' shrinkage, the terracotta version of my design is slightly smaller than the interior cast-stone version.

NOTE: on the production time, I will try to keep a few of these on hand to ship quickly, however, if I happen to run out it WILL TAKE 3 weeks to make and dry one before it can be fired, 2 weeks of that is for the slow drying out process which can't be rushed.

Below are some studio photos of my orginal master clay model during it's various creation and finishing stages. These clay models are NOT molded copies taken off antiques, but were hand sculpted by Randall in the same style and configurations as 19th century and Art Deco architectural sculptures.
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Rough laying in of the clay shape


SIZE: Nominal 12-1/8" high by 19-3/4" wide, 2" deep.

WEIGHT: 29#.

While the Nortown theater is gone, you will be able to enjoy the lovely design in your home.

Fans of Art Deco may have seen the Nortown theater in Chicago, the theater featured many interior plaster decorations as well as exterior terra cotta elements.

Some of the limited number of ornaments were salvaged and were for sale, most of these exterior pieces were quite large at over 30" wide and 20" high, 4-6" deep, my version of this is in a more apartment/home friendly size/weight.

As a sculptor who specializes in these works I create pieces that will complement your home, garden, or business.

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