Art Deco rat

On the 1927 Greybar building near Grand Central Station on 42nd Street there’s a large canopy over the entrance, one interesting and odd decoration are the Art Deco styled rats climbing up the supports for the canopy;


Besides the rats, if you notice at about the one o’clock position above the rat there’s a rosette where the adjacent support enters the wall, but if you look closely you can see this rosette isn’t a typical rosette flower at all, it’s actually a rosette made up of eight rat heads arranged in a uniform geometric circle! A pretty clever and interesting little design, the rats and the cones are representative of the mooring lines used on sailing ships way back then and the 19th century when rats climbing up mooring ropes gained access to the ships and any food contents thereon. Someone invented the metal cones for the ropes. Similar to the Elizabethan collar dogs are made to wear after surgery to prevent licking and biting at the surgery site, the rats were unable to climb around the cones to gain access.

I’ll have to come up with a model of this because it’s pretty cool, but I will have to figure out a configuration for such a model as “converting” this very 3D metal sculpture into something to hang on the wall probably does not work well, I’m not sure if even having it horizontally on a table works either since it really kind of needs that upward angle. It will be something to think about for sure.

Now that I have the current model done I’ve been thinking about the next one, I have at least half a dozen in mind, here’s 3 of them that I’d like to make models of but all 3 have issues that have to be resolved first so I’ve sort of “back burnered” them.

The horse head keystone would be cool, but all of the examples I’ve found pictures of have broken ears, even this one which is sitting in the fenced area of the Brooklyn Museum has been repaired long ago, those thin projecting ears are very fragile and there’s not a real simple way to deal with them and yet retain the charm of the original design. Casting this in concrete would be a real poor material and very heavy, it could be made in pressed clay though, but as can be seen with this terracotta piece the ears still broke probably from ice falling on them.
This is a design that would have been more practical made in cast iron.

I thought of possibly adding a typical projecting cornice on top which would connect with the backs of the ears and eliminate that fragility, though adding that on would increase the weight considerably as the trade-off, but it’s about the only good solution for this inherently weak and fragile issue with the ears.

The Art Deco rat has issues with the full body, cone and angle, but this might work out as a half depth plaque/panel which would solve the issue of how to display it.

Then there’s the nurse roundel on this old nursing student residence hall entrance, by coincidence it seems to measure just about 20″ across it’s diameter and that is exactly the same size my wolf head and my tigress head roundels are, and I still have the templates to make the roundel’s shape, including that concavity, the only difference is the nurse has that egg & dart molding and my two models don’t. If I made these in pressed clay which is likely, I would have to expand the templates to allow for one additional shrinkage, or accept that the end pieces will be smaller.

I think the nurse roundel needs that molding Or something like it as “filler” for what would otherwise be empty space. That molding area could just be a couple of opposing convex/concave beads even instead of that difficult to get even egg & dart molding.
I don’t know how they laid out those moldings in the old days, I did one foot of it in clay once, it was a real chore, but I’ve seen it done in stone too- hundreds of feet worth of it, and it’s always extremely even and consistant. Maybe with clay a plaster mold made from a one egg, one dart model could be used to press the design in a repeated pattern around the clay model, but it all would still take a lot of hours of tedious cleaning up and fixing to get it right, not quite sure I’m up to that!