• Winged dragon after Hecla iron works, about to cast.

    With the mold now ready to use, I ordered the black resin, 4 gallons worth, if I’m lucky I might get 2 complete casts out of that, or I could be a quart or two short, either way it will be close.

    I don’t expect the resin to get here this week, most likely next Monday/Tuesday.

    More photos etc then, I will also have a better idea what time and materials it will take for each and I can calculate prices on these as well as get photos of a finished cast.

     

  • Winged griffin, after Hecla Iron Works progress

    I have all 3 molds for this design completed, the largest one- for the griffins’ body is still drying it’s plaster support shell. Soon I will order the black resin needed and can make a couple of test casts. I calculated it will take 7 quarts to fill the body mold and 1-2 quarts for the wings, the resin is not inexpensive!

  • Winged griffin, after Hecla Iron Works progress

    I have all 3 molds for this design completed now, the last one is drying out, soon I’ll order the black resin to pour a couple of test castings. I calculated it will take 7 quarts to fill the griffin’s body mold and 1-2 quarts for the wings.

  • Winged griffin, after Hecla Iron Works progress

    The 2nd wing mold is now finished, and ready to start the mold for the body of the griffin himself.

    With the plaster model inside the box built for this, it will have to be embedded halfway with clay and the first half of the rubber portion brushed on with multiple applications, and a plaster shell poured over that. Once the plaster hardens, the box and the clay gets removed and the second half of the rubber mold brushed on, the sides of the box get strapped together to surround the sides, and the 2nd half of the plaster mold made.

    The box is about 28″ long, 9″ deep, 14″ wide.

  • Winged griffin, after Hecla Iron Works

    The first half of the first mold is done, to-morrow the 2nd half will be done and the work makes some more progress.

    The Hecla Iron Works of Brooklyn NY was named after Mount Hecla, an active volcano in Iceland. A fitting name for a design studio and foundry established by two Scandinavians: Danish-born Niels Poulson and his Norwegian partner, Charles Eger.

    The two men came to the United States at different times in the 1860s, and founded their business in a small office in Williamsburg in 1876, a boom time for building in Brooklyn and New York City. Both men had backgrounds as mason-journeymen, and Poulson had been an architectural draftsman in Washington DC, and architect/engineer for the Architectural Ironworks of New York.

     

  • Winged griffin

    I decided to finally make the 3 molds needed to make this griffin newel post. I had 3 of them in my collection, cast-iron from the 1870s they were used as newel posts on the stoops of buildings in NYC.
    Many of them had their wings broken off, many probably deliberately by building supers to remove the fairly sharp pointed wings to avoid injuries or tearing of ladies dresses.

    They were made by Heckla Iron works in Brooklyn.

    The originals were cast-iron, a material that would cost hundreds of dollars just for the castings, so casting them in metal is not likely, casting them in any kind of plaster, cast stone or ceramic/terracotta would be too fragile, so the only practical material these can be made of in a two part resin, even so this is expensive and would take about $150 worth to cast the 3 pieces.

    I am at present working on the molds required, the wings will take two two piece molds and the body will take one two piece mold and a supporting shell, my plaster cast needs some repairs, refinement and chasing some missing details back in, sometime later this summer I should have the work done.

    After I have a couple in my hands I can price them better then, I anticipate they will be around $350 each, the resin comes in deep black, so if they are primed and painted with a gloss black paint they would be like the original painted cast-iron pieces which were usually gloss black too like the 2nd photo shows.

    The resin can be drilled to install on a base or something, I would not recommend using the resin casts AS newel posts, but in the garden or just as decorative newel posts not supporting an active handrail they’d be stunning.

     

     

    48 Perry st, Greenwich Village, the pair do not appear to be original to this location, maybe even this building, an architectural iron firm

    had a hand in restoring them but it is unknown what exactly they did, at the very least they likely replaced missing wings. All of the ones Ive seen had provisions in the tops of the heads for a handrail, these two don’t so  they may have been altered, in fact the whole ground floor was extensively changed and this ugly concrete going up he stairs that the griffins sit on certainly is not original. Further- the building dates closer to around 1895 while these griffins date to ca 1870s.

  • Artifact of the month (February 2020)

    Artifact: Two brass gothic door lock assemblies

    Material: Brass

    Identification marks: Toulon 2850, 10th floor, and 17th floor, Patent dates include 1904 and 1905

    Dim’s h/w/d: 12-3/4” x 3-1/2”

    Weight: 4# approx

    Origin: From a NYC commercial building ca 1910, possibly from 90 West Street.

    The back of the plate reads “Toulon 2850” and “L H Patented Apr 19 1904, Aug 20 1904, May 16, 1905 and others.”

     

    The style and age as well as one coming from the 17th floor strongly lean towards their having come from 90 West Street in Manhattan, it was erected and in the style at the same time frame as these locks having been made, and the building is 23 floors high, suffered considerable interior fire and water damage after 9/11/01 and was renovated into condos. These heavy commercial door locks would have become obsolete, and it’s possible over the years some were removed from doors that had been removed or replaced, and the locks stored in the basement. There’s no other gothic styled building I can think of in Manhattan that would seem to fit everything as well as having at least 17 floors, other than the Woolworth building but all of the doorknobs in that building have logos on them that clearly indicate the Woolworth building.

    ny gothic styled building with less floors can be ruled out for obvious reasons, as can residential apartment buildings since these door locks are heavy duty commercial locks and plates installed on large 2″ thick doors, that also used a master key system.

     

  • Artifact of the month (January 2020)

     

     

    Circa 1903 roundel with a deep relief female portrait bust wearing long hair, a necklace and lace garment, laurel and oak leaves flank the figure, each element has a symbolic meaning and purpose. The laurel leaves symbolize victory while the oak leaves symbolize strength.

    So this female figure was associated with victory and strength.

    Terracotta 25″ across, purchased from an antique store on Bleecker Street in 2009 for $1350. The roundel, which was salvaged in the 1950s from the Lower East Side  was probably from a tenement  East of Avenue D when the city built the “Projects,” originally she likely  had a separate border made of six sections.

    The Brooklyn museum has one of these roundels with five of the six borders in their sculpture garden. The author has found photos of at least three extant buildings in Manhattan which have these same roundels on them, they are located at 431-441 East 80th Street, and 219 Grand Street.

    The East 80th street buildings’ roundels have no borders while those on the Grand St facade do have them.

    It is unknown who the portrait represents, but as should be obvious- the uncommon round shaped terracotta, and the prominent locations these were placed and on multiple buildings suggests that the figure represents either a historical  person of the day, or even someone important to the architect or building owner. It is dated to 1903 but after researching possibilities, about the only seemingly likely figure might be Jenny Lind, a much beloved popular female singer of the era but she died in 1887,

    how about Emily Warren Roebling- the female engineer who completed the Brooklyn bridge died in 1903? or perhaps Julia Boggs Grant  who was the First Lady of the United States and wife of Ulysses S. Grant, she died in 1902? so many possibilities and no effective way to  pinpoint the “who” for sure.

     

  • Sculpture of the week (January 7th, 2020)

    Grotesque Keystone Nr 285
    Kiln Fired Terracotta

     

    The keystone that provided the original to make the mold from came from 705 -707 East 5th Street, Manhattan, pictured below in 1975;
    The original ca 1905 keystone was made from white terracotta and  just the grotesque mask upper half was used;
    Like the original, my red terracotta is hand-pressed and kiln fired, these can be used outdoors in the garden or built into a brick or stone wall.
    The entire block of buildings on East 5th Street was demolished in the 1980s.
    To purchase one of my kiln fired keystones;

    Grotesque Keystone Nr 285 Kiln Fired Terracotta

    Copyright © 2020 Randall’s Urban Sculptures

  • Sculpture of the week (December 31st, 2019)

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D8 “Activity”

    To purchase an interior cast of this;

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D8 “Activity”

     

     

    HISTORY of the building
    The 56 story tall Chanin Building is a brick and terra-cotta skyscraper located at 122 East 42nd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan. Built by Irwin S. Chanin in 1929 It was designed by Sloan & Robertson in the Art Deco style, with the assistance of Chanin’s own architect Jacques Delamarre, and it incorporates architectural sculpture by noted sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan.

    In the lobbies, eight bronze reliefs designed by Rene Paul Chambellan are inset in the walls above ornate bronze radiator grilles. The bronze ornamentation continues in the waves on the floor, mailboxes, and elevator doors extending the general Art Deco style from the outside in. Initially a dominant landmark in the midtown skyline, the building had an open air observatory on the 54th floor.

    Having been surpassed in height by a number of buildings, most notably the Chrysler Building located across the street, the observatory has been long closed. The self-supporting tower atop the building is the original transmission site for WQXR-FM from 1941 to the 1960s. Irwin S. Chanin, was a self-made man – from poor immigrant to successful architect & developer. He wanted the building that bore his name to represent everything America and New York City meant for him, and could also be for all those that chose to seek it.

    He had Rene Chambellan work with Jacques Delamarre to develop a set of eight relief sculptures to represent this. There were two lobbies in the building, each have four plaques, all of which were to represent a theme of “New York, the City of Opportunity.” four of the plaques represent the Mental Life and four of them represent the Physical Life of the individual.

    Each plaque had a title:

    Mental Life: “Enlightenment,” “Vision,” “Courage,” “Achievement” Physical Life: “Endurance,” “Activity,” “Effort,” “Success”

    HISTORY of the sculptor whose artwork appears on the building;

    Rene Paul Chambellan (September 15, 1893 – November 29, 1955) was an American sculptor, born in West Hoboken, New Jersey. Chambellan studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris and with Solon Borglum in New York City. Chambellan specialized in architectural sculpture. He was also one of the foremost practitioners of what was then called the “French Modern Style” and has subsequently been called Art Deco. He also frequently designed in the Greco Deco style. Rene had many historic and significant buildings under his belt as a sculptor, including the NY Daily News Buildings, Buffalo City Hall, NY Life insurance building. Rene also designed medals, bronze doors, and the historic city seals and other artwork adorning the old Miller Highway (West Side Highway) that ran along Manhattan’s West side along the North (Hudson) River until a collapse in 1973 resulted in it’s eventual removal.

    I always found these hyper-masculine figures in this era to be interesting, more so with the abstractness of this in Art Deco. Chambellain’s grandson Bob was working on a book several years ago, and a looks at the web site http://www.louisvilleartdeco.com will bring forth a treasure trove of studio photos and more information on Mr Chambellain and his many works; Rene Paul Chambellan – One of Art Deco’s Greatest Sculptors. by Jim Patterson, with Bob Perrone. Artists played a critical part in architecture during the late ’20s, through the ’30s, and up to WWII. Art Deco buildings wouldn’t have their edgy character without the ornamentation supplied by these artists. A number of talented artists contributed to making each building into its own art gallery of sorts. Metalworkers, muralists, sculptors, designers…. They all played a key part. This feature article is about one of my favorite artists – sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan (pronounced with the “sh” soft sound: “Sham -bell – an”).

    Copyright © 2019 Randall’s Urban Sculptures

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D8 “Activity”

  • Sculpture of the week (December 24th, 2019)

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D9 “Endurance”

     

    To purchase an interior cast of this sculpture;

     

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D9 “Endurance”

     

    HISTORY of the building
    The 56 story tall Chanin Building is a brick and terra-cotta skyscraper located at 122 East 42nd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan. Built by Irwin S. Chanin in 1929 It was designed by Sloan & Robertson in the Art Deco style, with the assistance of Chanin’s own architect Jacques Delamarre, and it incorporates architectural sculpture by noted sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan.

    In the lobbies, eight bronze reliefs designed by Rene Paul Chambellan are inset in the walls above ornate bronze radiator grilles. The bronze ornamentation continues in the waves on the floor, mailboxes, and elevator doors extending the general Art Deco style from the outside in. Initially a dominant landmark in the midtown skyline, the building had an open air observatory on the 54th floor.

    Having been surpassed in height by a number of buildings, most notably the Chrysler Building located across the street, the observatory has been long closed. The self-supporting tower atop the building is the original transmission site for WQXR-FM from 1941 to the 1960s. Irwin S. Chanin, was a self-made man – from poor immigrant to successful architect & developer. He wanted the building that bore his name to represent everything America and New York City meant for him, and could also be for all those that chose to seek it.

    He had Rene Chambellan work with Jacques Delamarre to develop a set of eight relief sculptures to represent this. There were two lobbies in the building, each have four plaques, all of which were to represent a theme of “New York, the City of Opportunity.” four of the plaques represent the Mental Life and four of them represent the Physical Life of the individual.

    Each plaque had a title:

    Mental Life: “Enlightenment,” “Vision,” “Courage,” “Achievement” Physical Life: “Endurance,” “Activity,” “Effort,” “Success”

    HISTORY of the sculptor whose artwork appears on the building;

    Rene Paul Chambellan (September 15, 1893 – November 29, 1955) was an American sculptor, born in West Hoboken, New Jersey. Chambellan studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris and with Solon Borglum in New York City. Chambellan specialized in architectural sculpture. He was also one of the foremost practitioners of what was then called the “French Modern Style” and has subsequently been called Art Deco. He also frequently designed in the Greco Deco style. Rene had many historic and significant buildings under his belt as a sculptor, including the NY Daily News Buildings, Buffalo City Hall, NY Life insurance building. Rene also designed medals, bronze doors, and the historic city seals and other artwork adorning the old Miller Highway (West Side Highway) that ran along Manhattan’s West side along the North (Hudson) River until a collapse in 1973 resulted in it’s eventual removal.

    I always found these hyper-masculine figures in this era to be interesting, more so with the abstractness of this in Art Deco. Chambellain’s grandson Bob was working on a book several years ago, and a looks at the web site http://www.louisvilleartdeco.com will bring forth a treasure trove of studio photos and more information on Mr Chambellain and his many works; Rene Paul Chambellan – One of Art Deco’s Greatest Sculptors. by Jim Patterson, with Bob Perrone. Artists played a critical part in architecture during the late ’20s, through the ’30s, and up to WWII. Art Deco buildings wouldn’t have their edgy character without the ornamentation supplied by these artists. A number of talented artists contributed to making each building into its own art gallery of sorts. Metalworkers, muralists, sculptors, designers…. They all played a key part. This feature article is about one of my favorite artists – sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan (pronounced with the “sh” soft sound: “Sham -bell – an”).

    Copyright © 2019 Randall’s Urban Sculptures

  • Sculpture of the week (December 17th, 2019)

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D10 “Enlightenment”

     

    To purchase a cast of this sculpture;

     

    Art Deco Chanin Building Panel D10 “Enlightenment”

    HISTORY of the building
    The 56 story tall Chanin Building is a brick and terra-cotta skyscraper located at 122 East 42nd Street, at the corner of Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan. Built by Irwin S. Chanin in 1929 It was designed by Sloan & Robertson in the Art Deco style, with the assistance of Chanin’s own architect Jacques Delamarre, and it incorporates architectural sculpture by noted sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan.

    In the lobbies, eight bronze reliefs designed by Rene Paul Chambellan  are inset in the walls above ornate bronze radiator grilles. The bronze ornamentation continues in the waves on the floor, mailboxes, and elevator doors extending the general Art Deco style from the outside in. Initially a dominant landmark in the midtown skyline, the building had an open air observatory on the 54th floor.

    Having been surpassed in height by a number of buildings, most notably the Chrysler Building located across the street, the observatory has been long closed. The self-supporting tower atop the building is the original transmission site for WQXR-FM from 1941 to the 1960s. Irwin S. Chanin, was a self-made man – from poor immigrant to successful architect & developer. He wanted the building that bore his name to represent everything America and New York City meant for him, and could also be for all those that chose to seek it.

    He had Rene Chambellan work with Jacques Delamarre to develop a set of eight relief sculptures to represent this. There were two lobbies in the building, each have four plaques, all of which were to represent a theme of “New York, the City of Opportunity.” four of the plaques represent the Mental Life and four of them represent the Physical Life of the individual.

    Each plaque had a title:

    Mental Life: “Enlightenment,” “Vision,” “Courage,” “Achievement” Physical Life: “Endurance,” “Activity,” “Effort,” “Success”

    HISTORY of the sculptor whose artwork appears on the building;

    Rene Paul Chambellan (September 15, 1893 – November 29, 1955) was an American sculptor, born in West Hoboken, New Jersey. Chambellan studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris and with Solon Borglum in New York City. Chambellan specialized in architectural sculpture. He was also one of the foremost practitioners of what was then called the “French Modern Style” and has subsequently been called Art Deco. He also frequently designed in the Greco Deco style. Rene had many historic and significant buildings under his belt as a sculptor, including the NY Daily News Buildings, Buffalo City Hall, NY Life insurance building. Rene also designed medals, bronze doors, and the historic city seals and other artwork adorning the old Miller Highway (West Side Highway) that ran along Manhattan’s West side along the North (Hudson) River until a collapse in 1973 resulted in it’s eventual removal.

    I always found these hyper-masculine figures in this era to be interesting, more so with the abstractness of this in Art Deco. Chambellain’s grandson Bob was working on a book several years ago, and a looks at the web site http://www.louisvilleartdeco.com will bring forth a treasure trove of studio photos and more information on Mr Chambellain and his many works; Rene Paul Chambellan – One of Art Deco’s Greatest Sculptors. by Jim Patterson, with Bob Perrone. Artists played a critical part in architecture during the late ’20s, through the ’30s, and up to WWII. Art Deco buildings wouldn’t have their edgy character without the ornamentation supplied by these artists. A number of talented artists contributed to making each building into its own art gallery of sorts. Metalworkers, muralists, sculptors, designers…. They all played a key part. This feature article is about one of my favorite artists – sculptor Rene Paul Chambellan (pronounced with the “sh” soft sound: “Sham -bell – an”).

    Copyright © 2020 Randall’s Urban Sculptures

  • Sculpture of the week (December 10th, 2019)

     

    I found documents showing the building “St Vincent’s Hospital, Leon Lowenstein Clinic” which inspired my model was built in 1930 by James W. O’connor, an architect who had quite a portfolio of work on Long Island estates and other buildings. There’s documents and photos in the Historic American Building Survey on the Library of Congress site from 1980. The clinic is in the photo below, demolished in 1980. I was able to purchase the orginal stone carving circled in the photo, but unfortunately after it was taken down and laid on an industrial warehouse  platform cart I brought to transport it- it was so large and heavy I could not even roll the cart! The stone was about 8″ thick, 4 feet by 7 or so feet long, it weighed somewhere around 2,000 pounds, I had to have the demolition crew jackhammer just the part with the sitting figure out of it for me.

    St Vincent’s hospital itself was demolished later.
    Working from photos of it I replicated the entire design in a much smaller scale.

     

     

    To purchase a cast of the sculpture;

    https://www.urbansculptures.com/cart/product/large-sun-worshipper-panel-nr-715/

  • Sculpture of the week (December 3rd, 2019)

    This attractive repeating Art Deco design originally was made in individual nickel plated bronze pieces. The pieces when bolted together formed a repeating motiff lintel across the top of the interior entrance doorway of the Women’s House of Detention.
    The Jail was located at 6th Ave behind the present day Jefferson Market Public Library which was originally a courthouse.
    The New York Women’s House of Detention is believed to have been the world’s only art deco prison. It was designed by Sloan and Robertson in 1931 and opened to the public with a luncheon on March 29, 1932.
    The courthouse, and jail, the latter which was subsequently opened in 1934 (demolished 1973) was the scene of the notorious Harry K Thaw murder trial of renowned architect Stanford White in 1906.
    I rescued several of the individual bronze pieces, the rest were scrapped during demolition, the original lintel was about 8 feet long. I have made a mold of one of the sections and have several configurations available.
    I have a book I saw in a list of references in an article on this building, I was hoping for some photos and didn’t know what to expect of the actual contents. Anyway it’s titled Hellhole; the shocking story of the inmates and life in the New York City House of Detention for Women. By Sara Harris, Dutton 1967. It starts out detailing the jail building and the horrid conditions, rats, roaches, overcrowding, the lousy staff/correction officers/doctors and system that was a total failure in every possible way.
    The city was paying correction officers and doctors on call about $90 a month flat fee, so needless to say the morale to do work wasn’t there, nor were the quality of the medical services. The women only jail saw mostly drug addicts and prostitutes, most all of whom were repeatedly put in there- which clearly shows how the entire criminal justice and court system was a total failure. The book goes on to take general leave of the conditions of the jail and staff treatment of prisoners, and starts diving right into much more detailed case histories and interviews with a number of former and present inmates. Harris’ interviews took her to the worst slums in Harlem. Her subjects recounted their time in this jail and coping with a constant barage of rats, dirty bedding with mice nests inside, toilets that leaked on the floor, the homosexual attacks on new inmates and the gang/protection racket amongst the various factions within the prisoners. They further recounted the lack of medical services and a number of instances where inmates with serious mental or physical problems were not given treatment or given the standard pills they handed to everyone who had a medical complaint of any kind- drug withdrawl pills. Harris’ interviews showed graphically how the entire cycle began, and why the women wound up being incarcerated over and over again- one woman arrested 28 times- for the same crimes.
    The mystery of why someone in the system didn’t start thinking there had to be a better way, treatment for drug addictions and a help up out of the poverty and lack of skills that resulted in prostitution and stealing. The lack of skilled staff and quality medical care, the city’s dire budgetary shortfalls, and the poorly designed “system” all came together in the most disasterous fashion, and the results were a revolving-door of the same pathetic addicted inmates, and ineffectively dealing with the root causes of the problems that brought them there in the first place. It appears as though the “blame” was largely and inappropriately placed upon The “Women’s House of Detention” building when in reality, the jail was a visible and dark symptom of the much larger, totally ineffective and broken- criminal justice, legal, and social welfare system.
    The problem was not so much “the building” as it was the city, poor budget and the quality of staff that $90 a month salary could obtain. I’m not so certain that the ubiquitous rats, roaches, filth, overflowing toilets and poorly trained abusive staff were not symptomatic of all such detention facilities given the budget shortfalls, poorly paid staff and overburdoned court system. In the end, as a “solution” to neighborhood complaints it was the building that was demolished, the system apparently was not fixed nor were the budget problems addressed. Indeed, now, as then, the faces appearing in the facilities and courts are young black poverty stricken, addicted and hopeless people caught up in the system and it’s revolving door cycle of arrest, release back on the street with no job, or money with which to buy food or pay rent, and untreated drug addictions for which the person needs exorbitant amounts of money to support. One can’t help but wonder if these issues are the same today, with only the inmate faces and the addiction of choice being the bulk of any change since the 1960’s Harris’ book has no photos or images, but the details of the stories leaves the readers with more than enough of a series of mental images as clear as any photos she could have included.
    The sculpture is now available in two sizes, large and original;