• Lee Plaza Hotel lion

    I decided on my size for the lion, which will be close to the size of the originals, I decided to go with 16-1/2 x 22 on the clay model, after shrinkage it will be around 15-1/2 by 21-1/2 or thereabouts.

    I scaled from photos and it appears the original lions were about 17 x 24, hard to get it much closer since the only photos I’ve found were taken at an angle, but one that helped a lot was the photo of the 24 stolen lions in the police storeroom, I could see a concrete block wall the lions were leaned up against, and since the blocks are a known size- nominally 8″ high, I was able to scale using that measurement and come close.

    I am about ready to attach the box form to the backer board to begin work today, here’s the form I am starting with.

    lee-lion-started

  • Shattered

    Here’s what the shattered panel I posted about that had damage in the kiln looks like, there’s so many tiny fragments that I determined in about 10 minutes of trying to see if it can be repaired to some extent that it’s beyond that LOL. If it was just a few large fragments it wouldn’t be hard to piece back together, but there’s a gallon pail full of dime sized chips and fragments too that are not shown.

    That’s ok though since I have a mold of it, still, it would have been nice to put back together, but with the amount of fragmentation, and then that wide crack- the fragments would never seat and lock back in the way they were- the “background” for them has obviously expanded and changed, which is what opened that crack.

    shattered

  • Art Deco era lion, Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit

    I suppose I’ve been somewhat fascinated by these lions after reading an interesting story a decade ago about the theft of 50 of these from a fifteen story 1928 Art Deco building in Detroit that had been abandoned. Now I’m toying with the idea of making a model of one.

    lee

    The building, known as The Lee Plaza is on the historic register.

     	By Andrew Jameson
    Photo By Andrew Jameson

    The building closed in the late 1990s and the ground floor openings were bricked up with concrete blocks to keep vandals out, but the concrete blocks didn’t last long and soon the vandals and the scrappers made their way in and destroyed the interior, ripped out the wiring and plumbing, fixtures, and smashed everything else.

    The huge roof which was sheeted with copper was completely stripped down and hauled away. All of the aluminum framed windows were smashed out and the aluminum stolen for the scrap, and folks, that’s a lot of windows in that photo above yet the police never stopped or arrested anyone!

    Then comes the terracotta lions, about 50 of them below windows on the upper floor were all yanked out of the facade leaving huge gaping holes and loose bricks, which if any fell on the sidewalk 15 floors below would kill any unsuspecting pedestrian instantly.

    The police became involved when it was discovered promotional material about a row of new townhouses in Chicago boasted of soon to be sporting salvaged lions from the Lee Plaza in Detroit, the problem was the owner of the Lee never authorized their removal and the building was standing, the lions were stolen.

    Once it was determined they had crossed state lines the FBI became involved. They discovered the six lions slated to be installed on the new townhouses cam from an Architectural Salvage dealer in Chicago who claimed they got them from another deal they couldn’t name (something fishy about that story!) The prosecutor wanted to prosecute them and under legal pressure the salvage dealer made it so 24 of the lions and 4 gargoyles were recovered and taken to the police store room for storage pending an outcome of possible renovations of the Lee (which hasn’t happened yet a decade later)

    With recovery of the 24 lions, the whereabouts of the 6 lions which had been installed on the new row houses in Chicago which the builders had paid $1000 each for, that still leaves about 20 lions missing and unaccounted for still floating around out there.

    A little googling and I discovered who the original sculptor of the lion design was Corrado Parducci whose resume in Detroit architectural jobs numbers over 600 buildings!

  • Kiln stuff

    Oops, guess that panel didn’t work well, it was completely destroyed, turned out it was the raku clay and all the other models that had been fired were a different clay. The raku clay should have been better that the other clay since it’s designed for rapid heating and cooling.

    Oh well, no real loss since I have a mold of it, but it was a surprise it had started cracking and breaking before the kiln was even 700 degrees.