• Architectural Artifact of the month (September 2019)

    I have 8 salvaged bricks with paw prints embedded into them recently purchased that came from various demolitions in St Louis Mo!

    Each one of these has a story but we’ll not know what it is.

    One brick has a fawn deer hoof print and one has what appears to be a kitten’s prints, all were pressed into the moist clay before the clay dried and firmed up.

     

    A 9th brick has 3 prints in it;

     

     

    A 10th one that happened to come from St Louis too but in 2014;

     

     

    This one is the best, deepest impression, I found this one myself in 1977 at 127 Pitt St NYC when it was being demolished, it was laying in the pile of bricks dropped down inside the building from the 7th floor that had been taken down, something about this brick caught my eye in the pile because it was different, I picked it up and was amazed!

    I was sure I’d never find another like it, that maybe the brick yard workers deliberately impressed a little dogs’ paw in the clay as a “time capsule” or joke! It was some 37 years later that I found 3 other different bricks with paw prints for sale. Then just recently I found someone who had over 100 that demolition crews had brought into her store over time as they found them when cleaning bricks to resell, they could get more for the paw print bricks. It is still very rare and unlikely any one building would ever have more than a couple or three of them- a lot had to be right for this to happen!

    The clay bricks had to be pliable and laid out in an easy access location where animals could even gain access to them at all, that means no fences or high storage, and the clay would only have been pliable a few hours at most once formed. They likely were formed and laid on the ground maybe in trays or on screens in the sun to dry.

     


    127 and 129 Pitt st NYC, winter 1977

    Built ca 1905

    Photo from: The Gargoyler of Greenwich Village

  • New acquisition: terracotta cornice lion, Boatman’s bank 1915 annex, St Louis MO

    I purchased one of these cornice lions last week, it came from the 1915 annex of the Boatmans’ bank building, St Louis.

    27″H 11″W 17″D, 130#

    The building was originally 7 stories high, but in 1920 they added 4 more floors on after removing the roof and cornice, and then either replacing the original cornice or re-installing it all. There were 69 lions that were scaled for a 7 story building, and when it was 11 stories they looked someone “small” scaled.

     


    Boatman’s bank annex ca 1915
    Architect: Eames and Young (active 1885-1910s)

     

    The terracotta and the lions were made by the Winkle terracotta Company, St Louis

    Photo from 1883

     

  • Architectural Artifact of the month (August 2019)

    I thought I would start a new feature here, each month I will feature and detail one artifact from my collection.

    Artifact: Corinthian Capital
    Material: Cast iron
    Identification marks: J.L. Jackson New York (foundry)
    Dim’s h/w/d:
    11” x 18-1/2”
    Weight:
    40#

    The 1850 U. S. Census recorded James L. Jackson, Iron Foundry as having invested $32,000 in capital, and owning materials consisting of 1200 tons of pig iron and 500 tons of coal valued at a combined total of $24,600. The foundry employed an average of 95 workman and paid average monthly wages of $3700. The annual product consisted of 500 tons of “grate castings” worth $50,000 and 500 tons of other castings valued at $40,000 for a combined total of $90,000.

    Thirty years later James L. Jackson, iron foundry, was enumerated again in the 1880 U. S. Census for industries. At that time capital invested had increased to $250,000. The greatest number of workmen employed was 230, and the total amount paid in wages during the year was $78,552. The value of materials owned was $106,258, and the value of the past year’s product was $210,598.

    In the early 1850s J. L. Jackson opened a second location at 55-65 Goerck St. Then in 1857 his directory listing announced that the business would “remove in September to Twenty Eighth street, a few doors east of Second Av.” The business prospered and expanded on E. 28th St., and remained there until selling out in 1882.

    James had a brother who was part of the foundry for a period from 1853 to 1874 when he moved to California, ironwork cast during his time of involvement and ads had his brother included per; “J.L. Jackson & Bro” My artifact either dates to before or immediately after the brother’s involvement, dating it to ca 1853 or ca 1874.
    Jackson’s foundry was the oldest in the city, and provided iron to some notable buildings, including- the one I lived in on Broadway!
    but also the Metropolitan Life tower, Carnegie Hall, the Puck Building and others. They incorporated in 1885 so I have to assume they changed all references to the name to & Co, Company, or similar then, so that dates my artifact to before then.

    The following obituary appeared in the New York Times, 7 Oct. 1888,

    “James L. Jackson died at his home in Yonkers Friday. He was born in this city Aug. 29, 1818, and established himself in the iron manufacturing business here in 1840. For many years he was very prominent in his line of business, and when he sold out in 1882 to what is now known as the Jackson Architectural Iron Works he was one of the oldest men engaged in it. He erected the iron portion of many prominent structures of this city, among them the Harpers’ building, the Potter Building, Cooper Institute, the Grand Opera House, and the Mills & Gibb building. He was an inventor, and obtained about 100 patents. During the war he made shells for the Government.”

     

    Goerck Street where the J.L. Jackson foundry was located no longer exists. It ran From Grand Street north to East Third Street. Named by surveyor Joseph Mangin to honor his partner, Casimir Goerck. Goerck died in 1798 before the survey could be finished.

     The Corlears Hook Houses, now the ILGWU Cooperative Village (south of Delancey) and the Baruch Houses (north of Delancey) were built over the street and what was there.

     

  • My book: The Gargoyler of Greenwich Village (update)

    I am pleased to say I now have printing for the book arranged again and the quality of the printing is excellent as before. I tried an alternate printer that was a little less cost and as soon as I got the two samples I ordered I immediately regretted it, the photos were muddy and dark, the colors washed out and even the actual photos as printed were not as clear and were somewhat “hazy” as you can see in the photo below, the upper photo in each set is the alternate printer, the bottom was printed by Amazon/KDP, mind you the original Kodak print dates back to the 1970s and has damage to it that isn’t going to go away like magic at the printer, but you can clearly see how poor the alternate printer’s work was- darker, not clear, foggy or hazy, detail is lost, the colors are dull. In contrast the Amazon/KDP is warmer, clearer/sharper, no “haze” and more vibrant colors.

    These are just quick snaps with an iPhone of the two books laid on the kitchen counter;

     

     

    The gloss cover on both printed books however looked the same and excellent;

     

    You can order a signed, numbered copy directly from me for $35 total, ppd,  or you spend more and get it from Amazon for $39.95 plus tax and shipping but they won’t be signed or numbered as they won’t pass through my hands, link to order the book;

    My BOOK The Gargoyler of Greenwich Village

     

  • Sullivanesque panel Nr 3600 Morton School, Hammond, Indiana

    A client purchased a number of sculptures for his home, one was the Morton school Sullivanesque frieze. We decided to do this interior cast stone version for him in the aged buff yellow finish and I think anyone can agree it looks very “old world” an just like a weathered antique fresh off the demolition site!

    The Oliver P. Morton High School, built in 1936 was located at  7040 Marshall Avenue, Hammond, Indiana and was demolished in the late 1980s. Once in a while an oddball piece or two of original salvaged terracotta artifacts come up for sale at pretty high prices. Many have chips and other damage to them as well as inappropriate removal by powersaws of their back sections; supposedly to reduce the weight, but which instead severely weakens the artifact and destroys it’s integrity.

    The amount of  “excess” weight removed is miniscule, on what might be 85 pounds it’s removing at best 5 to 10 pounds.

    Nominal 13-1/2″ high by 15-1/2″ wide, 3″ deep WEIGHT: 22#.

    Read more at: https://www.urbansculptures.com/sculptures/3600.php
    Copyright © 2014 Randall’s Urban Sculptures

     

  • My book

    After a whole lot of trouble and trying to come up with printer solutions I think I may have it finally under control so I can get my book printed again at a reasonable cost as before with Amazon’s CreateSpace (CS).

    CS did some kind of merger/change and I couldn’t access my CS acct or my book files to print more copies, then they told me they no longer just print books, so I wound up shopping for a new printer and found Lulu.com after finding every other printer wanted anywhere from $48 to $67 per book plus shipping to print them!

    When I was selling the book for $35 with postage included, now having to pay $48 to $67 just for printing, plus sales tax and postage to get it to me,  makes it completely unviable! Lulu’s price was comparable to CS’s price, but the problem was I tried at least six times to get my pdf files into their system and every time they went to process and print them they said there was “something” wrong somewhere around page 32… Well I looked and looked, resaved the files and on and on again and every time they uploaded and I paid for a proof copy and waited, a few days later when I was wondering WHERE the book was, I’d log in and see “ERROR” in red next to the files.

    So I went back to what was CS but is now Kindle Direct Publishing, opened a new acct since I can’t access the old CS any more, re-uploaded my files and now waiting on a proof copy to check.

    Hopefully all will look correct, and then I plan to order a bunch to have on hand so I’m not left with none and go to order a couple as needed and find the printer is no longer available or something!

    In order to get printing now, I had to put it on Amazon for sale, and because of their cost it’s $39.95 now plus shipping and tax thru them, I will be offering them still as author direct for less anyway. So THIS is the place to get my book not Amazon!

  • Morton school Hammond Indiana George Elmslie, Louis Sullivan Sullivanesque

    I’ve had this design in my lineup for  quite a while, but this week a client purchased a cast along with several others and I started thinking that since I need to order in some materials, maybe now would be a good time to order what I need to “convert” this design so it can also be offered in my hand-pressed kiln fired red terracotta.

    With an original selling for around $750 at salvage outfits I know there’s a lot of people who don’t want to pay $750 plus shipping for one of the originals, and only being able to obtain one, and it having chips and damage on top of that, but they would be interested in the design in a fired terracotta from me that can be purchased in the quantity they want or need at a quarter of that price,  and they don’t have to settle for damaged goods either!

    I’m going to have to make a new rubber mold to replace the old one I have for this as it is tearing due to the purple Quantum Silicones rubber I used years ago that turned out to be total garbage, once I do that I can  pour a rubber positive in the new mold and then make the plaster piece mold off that to use for pressing the clay version.

    The design is from the demolished Morton High School  (1936, Hammond Indiana) This was George Elmslie’s final project before his death. Elmslie was the chief ornamental designer for Louis Sullivan. This piece is cataloged as an M-5 Main building cornice from the book Architectural Ornament by Krutty and Schmitt.

    Louis Sullivan frieze Nr 3600

     

     

  • My book dilemma

    I was going to look at ordering a few copies of my book on createspace the other day, and I discovered I couldn’t log in, furthermore, the “forgot password” never sent me a confirmation/reset email
     
    I tried the email address in my autofill and 3 others I have used and never got the emails.
    So I emailed customer support on what is now known as KDP print and someone with an “Indian” sounding last name obviously had no clue, told me she couldn’t find an account with my email address on it, that if someone else published the book for me to have them use their email address, LOL!!!!
     
    After going back and forth over 3 days I decided screw it- and created an account on KDP, then I uploaded my manuscript PDF and it asked for my ISBN, I put the one in FOR my title that Ive used on it all along which I bought from Bowker directly in 2012, the freaking system tells me the number is already assigned to another title!
     
    NO KIDDING!!!! it’s assigned to the very title I’m UPLOADING go figure!!!
     
    Tried several different ways, no go, so I email them again about that and another “Indian” name wrote back telling me that the ISBN is in use for a title already… and that I could use their “free” ISBN or buy one from Bowker, oh GAWD these people are helpless!!!!
     
    So I email them back with some screen shots showing my title and ISBN in my Bowker account and told them to CALL me.
     
    6 hours later, and not 5 minutes after I bought ANOTHER $99 Bowker ISBN just to be done with the damn thing- someone from KDP Print calls me, during the course of the call I said yes, like my email said- I don’t want Amazon selling/marketing and yada yada I only want PRINTING like Ive had done by createspace since 2012, I sell my book myself retail direct, well it turns out they don’t do JUST printing any more, you have to sign up for the whole package with Amazon/Kindle marketing/listing and bla bla bla, so I said “FINE!! forget it, I have no further use for your service” and hung up on her.
     
    Good grief, if I knew createspace was going away I would have bought a bunch more books, now I had to scrounge around and try to find another printer like Createspace where I dont have to order 50 books at a time, that has 7×10 size paperback, and doesnt cost like $75 each like 48hourbooks or some others quoted!
     
    I tried to find an alt to CS 2-3 years ago and every one them cost at least twice what CS charged. my 298 page book that has a LOT of color plates in it ran me about $21 on CS, I think 48hour books quoted me something like $65 each a couple of years ago, that’s why I never switched to another printer.
     
    So I spent some time getting instant quotes and went to Lulu.com again, punched in the criteria and got a quote, some others wanted- $67 each, $56 each, well Lulu had some choices, so I tried variations and discovered the price diff between 60# paper and 80# premium paper was only $3, what was surprising is the “standard color” showed the cost would be $14.77 per book but changing that to “premium color” shot the price up to a  whopping $48 each.
     
    I ran into an issue with my cover, it said it was not sized right for the 7×10 book! it was sized fine on Createspace… so I edited the file, had to fix everything due to the change in size, created a new PDF of it and uploaded that and it went through ok then.
    So I decided to order ONE copy in the cheaper “standard color” to make sure the interior and color are all correct.
    They have a hard cover option that adds about $8 more, hardcover was not an advertised option on Createspace but I heard it had a $100 setup charge.
     
    Still, $48 is more than double what I have been paying, there’s no way I could sell a book for that kind of price, thay have been $35 with postage only because they COST me $21 plus UPS shipping TO me, so I made my cost and a very few bucks for my time.
     
    I’ll have to see how well or badly the “standard color” looks compared to what Createspace did. I upgraded the paper to coated 80# which will help.
     

     
     
  • 129 Charles St NYC Thalman Stables horse head model

    I finally decided to get the mold made of this model which I finished in Dec 2013! There hasn’t been any inquiries on it so it has sat around in the way ever since, you can say I got tired of walking around it and that pushed me a bit more to get the mold done so the model can be discarded and be out of my way! The unfired clay model was coated with shellac in the photo and ready for the mold making process that started to-day.

    The Thalman Stables was built in 1897 as a horse stable and a residence upstairs, before 1939 the rooftop cornice was removed (or fell down) and later some really horrid modernizations were done to the ground floor, this has all been restored now!

    Here’s a before and after photo, what an amazing transformation!

    The original horse head keystone is still on the building and formed the basis of my model after it.

  • Washington Irving school Sullivanesque Pier Capital

    Hope to finally finish this Sullivanesque pier capital to-morrow, the clay is getting pretty firm despite being covered with plastic and spritzed with water, so it needs to be finished now.
    It’s amazing how much time this design takes, probably twice what other models I’ve done have taken, there’s a lot of detail packed in on the surface!
    I still have 5 of the 8 “squares” along the sides- the 4 on the right and the bottom left one to finish refining and cleaning up and then it’s done.

     

    Now that the model is done it is drying out.

    There is an 11 minute long timelapse video showing the whole modelling process on this start to finish over 3 months;

     

  • Hand-pressed red terracotta architectural leaf block

    Now I have the first hand-pressed red terracotta architectural leaf blocks done and ready to start drying, this will shrink somewhat and I have not priced these yet, but pretty soon I will know the exact size it will wind up, and a price determined.

    These would be very nice for accents or even in a row as a frieze band, they will be kiln fired, so they can be embedded into a brick or stone wall, or otherwise used outdoors.

     

     

     

    A timelapse video showing how these are made;

  • Leaf block mold for hand-pressed red terracotta

    I decided to make a mold of one of these ca 1880 leaf blocks that came from a frieze band on a mansion in Newark NJ that was demolished. It’s a nice little design and it will be quick and easy to make these in red terracotta like the original.

    Now it will have to dry out for a couple of weeks before I can use it.
    This is exactly what they used in ca 1880 to make the originals, though it was about 5-10% larger.

     

    The design could be a styled boxelder tree leaf, there’s not a lot of trees that have leaves like the terracotta block has, but there are a few, of which the boxelder appears to be most similar;

     

  • Washington Irving Louis Sullivan Sullivanesque pier capital model progress

    Working now on final cleaning up, detailing and refining, I haven’t had time to work on it the last couple of weeks as other projects and things needed my attention.

    I expect it will take quite a few more hours to finally get this done, the clay is getting firmer despite misting it with water and keeping it covered with plastic, so it needs to be finished as soon as I can get it done!