• D5 Art Deco “conversion” continued.

    Today I am working on the plaster piece mold for this panel, the photo shows the previously pictured rubber positive now set up into a wood form for pouring the plaster piece mold. With this first photo two of the five sections required have been poured after putting in temporary clay blocking walls in the other two side sections I don’t want filled with plaster just yet.

    These two sections have to set first, and then they get completely soaped in situ and the soap allowed to dry before the next two sections are poured- in this case what is the top and bottom sides.

    And then the progressive sequence with the remaining two sides:

    The last section poured, which is the largest piece and which forms the base/bottom of the mold the four sides fit onto:

    The completed plaster piece mold assembled after cleaning up sharp edges is now set aside to dry out before being used. The design can be seen is in reverse (negative), with the inscribed lines on the casts seen here as raised lines. Just like a film negative has the colors reversed and the image reversed, the mold does as well.

    When the plaster mold is dry, then the fun begins with the labor of hand-pressing, ramming and compacting the red clay firmly into every milimeter of the inside of the mold, and building it up to about a 5/8″ thickness in the surface and sides. Also for additional strength and stability- additional walls or webs are formed by hand  inside to divide up the large opening into about six small compartments just like the original architectural pieces have. The backs of these closely resembles the two compartments that concrete blocks have.

    The webbing adds structural strength as well as helps prevent warpage, on buidling facades it also allows keying-in of bricks and mortar so it’s all locked firmly into the wall.




  • Seated winged dog

    This model was completed in 2007, the design is after an extant terracotta sculpture on the  gothic inspired landmark  by famed architect Cass Gilbert at 90 West Street, NYC. The building sits across from the WTC site and when the twin towers collapsed in 2001 some of the falling steel and debris caused considerable damage to the North facade of 90 West Street.The building was actually under renovation when the 9/11 collapse happened.

    This  damage was in addition to the raging fires that went on for days in 90 West, but the building was not destroyed because when it was built in 1907-  over 100 years ago- the standard practice of the day in tall buildings especially was using hollow terracotta blocks for all walls and partition walls, as well as making up part of the floors. Today, such walls are typically either made from cheap mass-produced concrete block, or plasterboard. Concrete block is very soft, heat destroys concrete, plasterboard has little to no fire resistance at all. Terracotta blocks were made in a kiln originally, and were brought up to around 2,000 degrees F or more, thus, an ordinary wood, paper type structure fire is of little consequence to this material, that is the main reason the building survived.

    The then present owners were unable to handle the costs of repairing the new damage and sold it to the current owners for $12 million. The new owners embarked on a $145 million restoration to restore the building as it was, and convert it to residential units.

    The facade had to be completely removed, damaged terracotta units replaced with new ones, and the damaged stone replaced, and the whole North loor of this 25 story building, installed in  little niche-like  canopied cutaways,  and their backs engaged into the terracotta block wall behind them.

    The buildings’ top  8 or 10 floors are a veritable wedding cake of ornament featuring griffins and winged lions seated on pedistals, owls, gnome-like creatures, floral and vine ornaments, finials, crockets and capitals all capped with a copper mansard roof which itself was capped by finials.

    90 West Street, 1907

    90westmodMy original clay model from 2007

    A client expressed interest in this design for a renovation  project in Nashville, so now this is in process for making the mold next week, that will make this design available now almost exactly  7 years after it was finished in Nov 2007.

    If I were to do an updated version of this model sometime,  there’s only a few minor changes I would do, mostly on the head/muzzle, for now he is what he is.

    With the amount of work to cast these in concrete, and the weight, handling and all the rest I have priced these at $325 for the interior and $395 for concrete, plus shipping in a wood crate. It is unknown at the moment if this can be shipped Fedex ground or not, if it exceeds about 110# it will have to ship by truck as the added weight of the crate and packing will add about 45# and their weight limit is 150#.

  • New 1/12 scale room box

    I did a small amount of work on the plywood for the facade of my furniture store model today, it is 1/2″ thick veneer-core apple ply. I have cut out for the two display windows and the door/transom openings. There is a row of 6 square windows across which on the real building are semi-opaque textured glass that I think I will use clear glass for on this instead so the interior is more visible. The door opening will be set back inside a couple of inches. I have not decided how deep I will make the box yet, I intend to finish the facade completely and decide.

    This will be the second 1/12 scale model roombox I’ve done so far, the bricks I will be using are scale model bricks made from colored plaster, some of them will need to be run through a hold down form I made to run a router across to shape one corner of each. The router idea works ok and there is an acceptable percentage of loss from that process that might reduce a little as I develop a better technique.
    The fancier bricks run up both columns and across to form a raised decorative border frame, there is a similar rectangular frame up top which on the real building would have been a place for a large sign.