• 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!

  • James W Scoville building terracotta

    This James W Scoville building Elmslie “Sullivanesque” sculpture is now out of the kiln, it is still about 200 degrees and had to be handled with gloves, it turned out perfect!


    One can see the color change in photos from the previous dry/unfired state and now that it’s been fired to a little over 2,079 degrees, actually cone 2 tipped because I added a 15 minute “hold” at the set temperature, but because of the “heat work” it went a little higher, but the result is better and the color is nice and even top to bottom, whereas in the past the very bottom of large pieces like this would turn out slightly lighter due to slightly lower temperatures near the floor of the kiln.

    https://www.urbansculptures.com/cart/product/sullivanesque-panel-after-james-w-scoville-chicago-nr-ls-2/

     

    A Virginia museum  has an original, that one still has the old grey paint slathered all over it but the red clay underneath can be seen.

    Someone has one they have been trying to sell for quite a while for $5,000 !!

    https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/6027262-7945338/

    Exterior Ornament from the James W. Scoville Building, Chicago (Primary Title)
    Dankmar Adler, 1844-1900 (Artist)
    Louis Sullivan, American, 1856 – 1924 (Artist)
    Northwestern Terra Cotta Co. (Artist)
    probably modeled by, Kristian Schneider (Modeler)
    Date:
    1884-1885

  • The Jamws W Scoville Elmslie Sullivanesque panel kiln firing

    After 4 weeks of drying I placed the pressed clay Chicago James Scoville building “Sullivanesque” panel in the kiln and turned ‘er on.


    I changed the program on the controller slightly for this piece by bumping the temperature up and adding 10 minutes soak time to when the kiln reaches that temperature.
    About 37 hours from now the kiln will shut off and take half a day to cool down before I see what I get.

    Meanwhile, here it is sitting in the kiln when I turned it on. The light yellow colored deals touching the back of the panel are shelf posts and I placed them on both front and back so that should the panel want to tip- it can’t.
    The two red pyramid haped deals resting on top of the posts are called “cones” and they will partially melt and bend over at specified temperatures each uniquely is formulated to do that at, so they tell me if the kiln got hot enough- what it was set to, or too hot- hotter than I set it for.
    In this case there’s a cone 1 which bends over at 2,079 degrees F and a cone 2 which bends over at 2,088 degrees F, and yes they are THAT accurate that 9 degrees in a furnace that is over 2,000 degrees can be measured accurately.

    The temperature and soak time much like baking a cake or making toast in a toaster- also affects the final color and “doneness” of the terracotta. This clay I use is a brick red that as the temperature goes above that cone 1 starts to turn brown- it can take cone 5 (2,167 degrees) at which point it turns a dark chococate brown! I’ve never gone higher than cone 1 but it would be interesting to experiment with a smaller piece.

    So far I’ve shown the modelling process, the hand-pressing process and now the kiln firing process will wrap it all up in a sort of educational “How the architectural terracotta was made” in Sullivan’s day and before.

     

     

  • Added two red terracotta artifacts to my collection

    I bought 2 of these red terracotta blocks that came from a building in Newark NJ, these would date back to the 1880s. No identification marking, numbers or anything on them as is typical of these pieces in that decade.
    The design has no undercuts at all, is very smooth, and sharp crisp edges and corners which indicates to me that the original pattern was probably carved wood and the mold taken directly from it. The same leaf design sans the specific angled border around the perimeter of these 7-1/2″ square designs may have been incorporated in cast iron elements too as a foundry pattern since wood carvings were typically made for sand casting.


    The coal soot blackening pattern on both blocks proves these were embedded in the brick wall in the position they are in the photo- alternated left and right. These would have likely been part of a row of them as a frieze band across the facade.

    The backs were slightly scooped out by hand leaving a vertical center intact for structural strength since there would be brick wall above these.

  • James W Scoville, George Elmsley/Sullivanesque design first pressed clay

    The first hand-pressed clay sculpture is finished and drying now before it can be kiln fired.

    Once this is fired in the kiln I will have an exact size and weight and a firm price for these signed, numbered and dated works reproducing this historic George Grant Elmslie/Louis Sullivan 1884 Chicago design featuring a  styled webbed lotus.

    The design is an early work by these men and  it dates to the  foundation of what has become known as the “Sullivanesque” style of architectural ornament.

     

    The James W Scoville building was demolished in the 1970s, many of the original artifacts were salvaged, most are in private collections while a few are in museums such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where it appears in photos on their web site still sporting it’s old battleship grey paint that was slathered on the original facade over the rich red brick and terracotta.

    Now instead of hoping one of these might come up at an auction, and only finding ONE when you might really need a pair for a project, and instead of paying upwards of $5,000 for one of those, these authentic hand-pressed kiln fired  sculptures can be had new, in any quantity, made exactly the same way the originals were made in the 1880s- one can purchase these from me at $349 delivered (48 states only)

    As can be seen in the bottom photo, these really ARE made exactly like the originals- including the typical webbed compartments in the back- the portion that was embedded into the wall.

    The webbing gives considerable structural strength and stability, and when kiln fired to almost 2,100 degrees F it becomes vitrified and has less porosity than even modern hard brick. As a result these can be built into a brick or stone wall or displayed in the garden too.

    These will probably be around 50 pounds in weight as this one took 60 pounds of clay.