• Louis Sullivan, Elmsley, Schneider James W Scoville building Chicago, model finished 12/7/2018

    I’m finished with this Sullivanesque model now and plan to start making the mold to-morrow morning. it’s moist clay, somewhat firmer than it was as it started losing moisture, but it’s still delicate and a paint brush can leave marks on the surface so I have to almost flow the first coat of rubber on rather than firmly brushing it on.
    I wanted to get the mold made before it dries since as it dries and becomes completely dry the clay shrinks about 15%, and then when pressed clay copies are made those would also shrink almost that much, so the double shrinkage of about 25% would seriously reduce the final size which I want to avoid by doing hte mold while it’s still moist and nearly the same size it was when I set it up.

        Sullivanesque model finished
  • Antique Louis Sullivan “Sullivanesque” panel arrived

    My purchased piece of Sullivanesque came today, from the 1936 Thomas A. Edison school, Hammond Indiana. The design is such that it could be situated either way shown in the first 2 photos, but hard to tell which way it was originally meant to be installed and was, it looks good either way it’s rotated, and the impressed numbers on one surface which I remember from the pieces in NYC were always on the TOP side. So which way did this go… it’s easier than it might seem to figure it out even without aphoto of the school to tell- the last photo up close tells the whole story, that black from coal soot in rain over decades would have stained the top surfaces not the bottoms, so the 2nd photo with the two small squares at the top divided into 4 smaller squares is the correct orientation.

    The back was full of mortar and brick fragments, I removed most of it but since there is an old crack a few inches long I decided to leave that one compartment as is to continue to reinforce it.

    Nice thing is, this terracotta block has it’s original depth, unfortunately it was cut out from a double panel that comprised two of these squares. Maybe the other half was damaged, maybe some misguided fool decided to try to cut the longer panel in half to make two smaller ones, who knows… but the damage is permanent on this 80+ year old artifact.

    While I’m on this topic, there is unfortunately one misguided fool in Chicago who lately seems to be offering original so called “museum quality” pieces like this that he arbitrarily decides to CUT OFF the so called “dead weight” in the back with a power saw or similar in order to reduce the WEIGHT and make it “easier” to hang on the wall!

    Good grief! he permanently destroys hand-made 80+ year old valuable artifacts like this just to remove all of MAYBE five pounds of weight off a piece like this that weighs about 40 pounds, and in the process he destroys the strength and structural integrity of the piece by cutting the back and leaving only about an inch thick left of just the front, stupid! stupid! stupid!

    Another issue is these hand-pressed terracotta artifacts all have incized or impressed numbers and letters on them- the very part the fool cuts off with power tools! those letters and numbers are part of the original setting/contract/mold numbering system used to install the pieces in the wall in the proper order on the blueprints, it positively connects the artifact to a specific unique building and maker, think of it like a serial number.

    Removing a lousy five or ten pounds off a sculpture that weighs 40 or 50 pounds is useless and makes absolutely no difference for hanging it or displaying it, in fact this piece is self standing BECAUSE it has it’s full depth, once that is cut away it no longer can do that and all it takes then is tipping or falling over once and it will break into multiple pieces and be destroyed.

    If you want something to hang on the wall, do it RIGHT with the proper anchor or bracket,  or buy a reproduction to do that with it, don’t destroy or support someone who destroys these artifacts like this just to hang it on a wall or shave five pounds off it!

    So what numbers am I speaking of on these pieces?

    Here’s an example on a keystone I own

    Another example on another keystone I own;

    And lastly;

    When the so called “dead weight” of  sawing 2 or 3 inches off the back of one of these artifacts is done, these historic, identifying numbers are lost forever. No museum I ever know of has ever altered artifacts in any destructive way like that, and calling any such wrecked artifacts “museum quality” is blatantly false advertising and destroying historic antiques on a whim, don’t be part of that destruction!

  • My Sullivanesque model,

    I had to dig out some old unfired very fragile clay models of mine from the corner in the utility room since I had to replace the sump pump hose. This model of a Louis Sullivan design I did in 2008, I’m likely going to convert it to do it in terracotta, so I left the unfired clay model out to look over and plan for that.

    This was not simply molded off an existing piece, it was modelled by me in 2008 for a Chicago client’s townhouse when he couldn’t find the exact design and quantity etc he wanted, so his contractor got hold of me and the end result was the client received three concrete casts of this, in an acid stained rusty red/orange finish.

    Measurements: Approx 19-1/2″ high, 19-1/2″ wide.

    Sullivanesque model
    Sullivanesque model
  • Adler & Sullivan, Elmsley, Schneider James W Scoville building Chicago, progress

    I am excited to get started creating a model of this interesting 1884 design after those that were connected to  Adler & Sullivan, George Elmslie, Kristian Schneider once on the James W Scoville building Chicago, and tonight I started laying in some of the rough design work to get started on this

    Adler & Sullivan, Elmsley, Schneider James W Scoville building Chicago, new model started
  • Adler & Sullivan, Elmsley, Schneider James W Scoville building Chicago, new design

    I am excited to get started creating a model of this interesting  Sullivanesque1884 design after those that were connected to  Adler & Sullivan, George Elmslie, Kristian Schneider once on the James W Scoville building Chicago. I will be working on the clay model of this and upon completion of the various processes I’ll be producing them in hand-pressed kiln fired red terracotta just  like the originals.

    I have pretty much everything ready to start on my model this weekend of this charming and interesting 1884 design by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler.

    Image; Original 1884 artifact courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art


    The printed-out greyscale drawing below, is what  I will use to point up the full sized landmarks on the surface of the clay for the design.

    The master model will be 13.3″ wide, 22″ high and 4″ deep- the size of the box form shown.

    Those involved in creating the original 1884 Chicago design are said to have included;

    Dankmar Adler
    Louis Sullivan
    George Grant Elmslie
    Kristian Schneider

    Kristian Schneider, a Norwegian sculptor, immigrated to Chicago in 1884, and had modeled all of Louis Sullivan’s ornamental work since 1889. He worked for NorthWestern Terracotta until 1906 when he and another worker opened their own shop to do contract work. Schneider was a clay modeller, said by one source to have worked at Northwestern Terracotta Co., another source said he worked at Midland Terracotta Co., and a third source said American TerraCotta Co., maybe over the years he worked at all three of them, but one thing for sure is he appears in photos in “Common Clay” standing by models produced for American TerraCotta for Chicago buildings, from which this design had originated.

    George Grant Elmslie worked closely with Louis Sullivan as his chief draftsman, he left Sullivan’s employ in 1909

    Dankmar Adler (July 3, 1844 – April 16, 1900) was a German-born American architect and civil engineer. He is best known for his ten-year partnership with Louis Sullivan.

    Some or all of these persons had a hand at designing the 1894 building and the ornament here, each has a unique story and history that could fill a book on it’s own, I won’t attempt to do that here beyond this brief summary of who they were and how they connect to this interesting design.

    The building was the James W Scoville building, once located at 619-631 West Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois and is depicted here pre-1973 when it was demolished;

    James W Scoville building

    Significance: This factory building, designed by Adler & Sullivan contains three different designs belonging to the transitional period (1880 and 1890) of Sullivan’s ornament. This structure was the best and most ornamental of all the few remaining factory buildings by Adler & Sullivan.

    -Historic American Building Survey number: HABS IL-1114
    -Demolished 1973
    – Building/structure dates: 1884-1885

    Call Number/Physical Location at the Library of Congress;
    HABS ILL,16-CHIG,91-

    Source Collection; Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)
    Repository; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington,
    Rights Advisory; No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government.