The image below is a before and after view
from the floor, looking at one of the coffered panels in the octagonal
conference room. In this elaborately designed ceiling each of the coffers
are approximately four foot by six foot. The photo on the right shows the finished decoration done by Cisi Jary and her daughter, Pam Rosser. There is a link near the bottom of this page to their website, Restoration Associates.
I was told by Lawrence
Walker that the ceiling is copied from the Chicago Tribune Bldg. As I attempted
to refine the model for moldmaking I wanted to smooth out some of the drip
marks in the paint work. There were quite a few (although not very noticeable).
I then discovered that the "drips" were not in the painting done at the
ExNews Bldg in San Antonio, but they were actually cast into the plaster.
So, I assume, these "drips" were from the paint work done in Chicago, where
the molds were taken for this ceiling.
In the photo above, on the left, you can
see two of the holes that were punched through for the wires used to hang
the 1960s acoustical ceiling. Since the gold, bronze, and silver powdered
decoration on the original ceiling is a bit dark, I assume the 60s ceiling
was installed below the original to lighten up the conference room. It
is a shame that they hacked through the original castwork, but on the other
hand this does allow me to occasionally practice the trade passed down
to me by my father Tom. Installing the dropped ceilings was a common and
accepted practice during the 1950s and on. Now (Jan. 1999) these dropped
ceiling are standard in almost every building (sheetrock ceilings would
be the alternate choice). This would be the result of economics, lack of
desire for the placement of art in your space, and the unavailability of
mechanics to create the embellished environments. Click below to read a related opinion.
Battersby Ornmntl made
the molds in place, from more than a dozen locations on the ceiling, in
areas that were intact, in order to repair the damage. In the photo above
you see the two holes and two other areas that are seriously fractured.
The fractures also needed to be repaired. There were many of these in the
room aside from the four dozen or so "punched holes". These fractured areas
were cut out by me and replaced with reproductions cast in the molds from
the intact areas. Access from above was almost nonexistant (through the
larger hole in the picture above you can see the concrete floor pan of
the eighth floor which was only a few inches above the embellished coffers
I was restoring). This meant I had to devise an executable method for adhering
my new castings. My new pieces were cut to fit in closely, like pieces
from a jigsaw puzzle. So I solved this by first fitting the new cast piece
precisely, then mixing some plaster (the adhesive), then putting the wet
plaster in a tall styrofoam cup, then working quickly (the plaster immediately
starts losing it's plasticity and sets in a few minutes) insert the cup
through the hole setting it above the ceiling in a strategic location,
a string has been attached to the top of the cup and it is run out through
another of the "punched holes", then the new piece is held up in it's place
at the ceiling, then the string on the tumpcup is pulled allowing the plaster
to flow on top of the new and the existing pieces, and finally holding
the new piece in place carefully for a few minutes. That's it, except for
detailing the perimeter of the new piece, to make the patchwork invisible.
This was repeated many times on this job.
I will be publishing more
photos here soon, so check back and click reload or refresh.