Model of Taliesin 1

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JimM
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Model of Taliesin 1

Post by JimM »

Be nice; this was very difficult and way above my model making pay grade, of which only my photographic ability is lower. It started out as a "simple" basswood model, originally intending to differentiate plaster, wood, and masonry by using different woods or stains. I'm sure that would have been fine (and certainly easier) but as I went along I began to feel it important to convey the actual materials and terrain of Taliesin. Again, certainly not a very sophisticated or professional level model (so best not to look too close!). It is what it is and I enjoyed the challenge.

Tried different scales, but it would quickly become a large model which in turn demands more detailing (and of course, more ability!). I settled on 1/8" scale (1:100, HO is 1:87), it was still difficult, but quite practical to work with. For reference the entire model with base is 28"x34", and the model envelope itself is 16" E/W x 28" N/S (big enough that it looks ok from a distance). The terrain is scored and curved foam board. Doors and windows were laid out in CAD and simply printed on copy paper. Masonry was printed from a photograph of a stone sample online. Acrylics were used for: exterior plaster, a tan-gray; Wright described in "An Autobiography" the interior plaster being mixed with raw sienna "drying out a tawny gold". But the exterior plaster was "the same but grayed with cement" (the tawny gold now seen at Taliesin on the exterior is not original). The roof, a fawn color as both a contrast and to indicate fresh cut shingles (Wright left them "to weather silver-gray like the tree branches spreading below them"). All exterior wood and trim, a violet-gray since Wright described them "the color of gray tree trunks in violet light" (the darker stains and Cherokee red variations also came later). The terrain material and vegetation are HO model train stuff, but the tree trunks themselves are twigs I picked up walking my dog.... the drive and court surfaces are #300 sandpaper! The signed tile is from a gift I received years ago... it was fixed to a cherry box which Wright ties came in (do they still?).

Sorry to prattle on, just thought I'd offer a few comments, probably as an excuse to temper any criticism! Anyone have a model train of the Spring Green area? :D

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8zy1xabdp9qp ... F9XAa?dl=0
Last edited by JimM on Sat Dec 07, 2019 2:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Well, I think that's marvelous. I had no idea you were working on a physical model, as a foil to the excellent digital one you've created ?

The landscaping might be the real triumph, here; it is complete enough, and convincing enough, to explain the whole affair, as "a house springing from the ground it occupies" (to paraphrase Mr Wright) ?

Is it hollow ? Is it too late to put yellow paper behind the windows, and light it for evening, photographed perhaps in a blue-lighted room ? Or would it be easier to give your digital model some evening lighting ?

I miss the meaning of your last sentence: "Anyone have a model train of the Spring Green area?"

S

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

Boy oh boy! what a great thing you've done.
I've looked at lots of T1 floor plans & old photos & other graphic representations, but that suite of photos of your model really conveys what it must've been like.
Well done.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Isn't it a treat ? One notices in particular the way the building meets the ground; the stone base capped with that huge cyma molding and then the cement
plaster. The views from the south-west up the original drive show a series of downslope prows, the successive corners of the private façade of the residence
as it works in and out. I imagine Wright regretting the need for the triplets of windows in the "basement" (was it here he remembered thinking of the Oak Park
days and the momentary impetus to eliminate holes of any kind, in his heroic forms ?)---but then, they do remind one of the Potala . . .

The other thing this new model gives us is an overall look at the design, from many new vantages. There is literally an infinite number of views that can be had,
for the first time, of a colored rendering, in 3D, of Wright's opus. Many of Jim's photos make this point quite well.

S

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

The landscape really is convincing in the model. Look at this foreground!
(I've taken the liberty of inserting some sky. (I hope you don't mind))
Consider the vantage point of this view where we see the studio wing of the house emerge from behind the hilltop. You can't help but want to go farther to explore what lies ahead.
As a composition, this view has two focal points: First your eye is drawn to the left toward the tower with its dramatic verticality. Then, more subtly, your eye returns to the colorful planter right in front of you which leads you into the middle distance where it comes to rest at the chimney slab of masonry. From there it pinwheels left as you wonder what lies over there ...
There's so much to like about this.

Image

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

SDR's comment about those lower level "holes" strikes a chord. I've always sort of wanted them not to be there. Always thought less would be more.
With Jim's wonderful model we can explore the "what if?"


Image

SDR
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Post by SDR »

The horizontal placement of those windows is a bit surprising, isn't it ?


I'm still looking for what I could swear was found, somewhere in the earlier parts of the Autobiography: Wright recalling a fleeting or at least an
unrealized fantasy, that he could perfect the building forms that were coming to him if only he could eliminate their doors and windows altogether !

I know, I know---doesn't sound like something a real architect would be caught dead saying. But it's too surreal to have been made up . . . isn't it ?

S

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

JimM, what I don't see in this is any reason you should feel the need to apologize. This is wonderful! I would like to see every FLW design built and lost represented this way.

Some practical considerations: How long did it take to build? If you had been compensated appropriately, what would this have cost? Where are you going to store it?!

JJM2
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:28 pm

Post by JJM2 »

What a wonderful thing! Your work here and on your digital model have really added to my understanding of T1. Photos and plans can do a ton and are probably the most important for documentation, but there is something about a model that helps with the overall grasp of such a complex, rambling work. Also, I am in awe of all those small details in this model. I know it takes a ton of research and time to work those details out in plan and elevation before you ever get to the actual model. Well done!

Paul Ringstrom
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Post by Paul Ringstrom »

Excellent effort! It sure shows your dedication. Much better than just floor plans.
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

JimM
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Post by JimM »

Geeez... I can't tell you how much I appreciate the kind remarks and will definitely respond to questions when I have a little more time they deserve. I will say, Roderick, that I guess some insecurity of it not being "perfect" made me apprehensive about sharing it. You don't have to look too close to see walls not completely plumb and a general "sloppiness" one would not find in a professional product...thanks so much again to all!

JChoate
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Post by JChoate »

It's a grand slam home run.
Here's another suggestion -- if you have a portable light fixture you could position it to simulate the direction of light at various times of the day. Study the effects of solar orientation on the forms. In your photos, the light is neutral -- generally diffused and non-directional. With T1's complex shapes there are probably lots of interesting shadows when the light is sharper, particularly given the overhangs. I'd love to see the sharp diagonal angles of shadows raking across those vertical walls cast by perpendicular rooflines.

I think I made a comment months ago regarding JJM's very nice computer generated 3D model (the one suitable for 3D printing) that we saw on this forum October of 2018: wouldn't it be fascinating to see side-by-side models of T1, T2, and T3 ? Same idea applies to your creation.

But, I'm guessing you're probably not ready to bite off the rest of that task at the moment .... better rest up a bit before starting T2.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

The "holes punched in walls" situation regarding the fenestration of the lower level was addressed above. This caused me to think of the roof of Charnley. It is a mess, from the standpoint of design. There are skylights and chimneys sticking out, and a party wall interrupting the broad overhang of the roof. But that's not what FLW designed (setting aside the Frank or Louis controversy for the moment). What FLW created was captured in the perspective by Newton J. Tharp, Adler & Sullivan employee, in 1891, published in the book "The Charnley House" by Richard Longstreth, page 195. All the necessary fuss on top of the building was simply left out. An 1892 photo on page 128 was taken at an angle that avoided the confusion, while another photo of the same year, page 177, from a different vantage point hints at the complexity.

Similar details in the plan that dealt with the functioning of the house were subordinated, like the kitchen, laundry, servants' stairs, bedrooms and baths (page 106). It was simply necessary to have these bits and pieces to make the house work, to get light into it and smoke out of it, to move servants about with minimal fuss.

Similarly, the windows in the Taliesin basement merely admit light into rooms that were so subordinate (and shielded from view by landscaping) that there was no need to spend a lot of effort on them. Once servants were eliminated, and furnaces replaced fireplaces, all of that changed.

JimM
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Post by JimM »

Okay... first, thanks again to everyone. Promised responses:

SDR... It is hollow, although I never intended the roof to be removable or to detail the interior. Originally I was going to use clear plastic for windows, but it just didn't work out. I read that pro modelers never use clear material, but use opaque or frosted. My issue with the windows was the "Taliesin muntin design" and there was a lot of it. It didn't work out to my satisfaction drawing it on plastic at that scale or applying the design using transparent adhesive print paper. This phase consumed the most time. To finish at some point I ended up rebuilding all the walls solid, then glued on the printed designs, which all in all, I guess works okay.... the Spring Green thing was only about it being almost HO scale, and I had a laugh envisioning a train chugging around the base of Taliesin.

I have no doubt Potala was on Wright's mind, one of the few structures he envied.

As far as the digital, to my dismay I doubt I'll ever have the time to master "photo-real" improvements... which I would love to...but since redoing the masonry I will go back some time and address the exterior wood trim; I still have it too dark.

James... Thanks! Your sky enhancement is marvelous! And what a difference it makes! Your comments reflect why I thought that view was almost "mandatory". :) Again, it's unfortunate I can't do the same for the digital version... not sure I could get too involved with lighting experiments, but certainly both "real" and digital models are both suited for that. If you were suggesting additional models of T2...T3... yikes! I won't live long enough, and believe it or not, I'd probably do a basswood only model of T1 first!

The punched "hole" thing is interesting, isn't it? That may not have been an issue for Wright since he simply wanted ventilation down there, so I agree with Roderick's comment. To expand somewhat, should also point out perhaps only Fallingwater shares a viewing dilemma with Taliesin, as far as how Wright chose to convey them. Almost anywhere from the roads you would be lucky to see the roofs above the treetops, so perhaps as appealing as that view is, Wright deceptively never intended a "main" view. The drive approach to the courts is all what most visitors would see of Taliesin. In fact, the nature of all the different views on record has always been why I've wanted to see it as a "whole" to begin with.

SDR, come to think of it, James' additional "enhancement" does recall a similar project we discussed a long time ago, only identified as "a wood and plaster house" dated 1904. I've only seen it in Drexler's "The Drawings of Frank Lloyd Wright" from the 1962 MOMA exhibit. I'll send a photo to SDR, but he'll probably beat me to it! Antecedent?...Potala... Gilmore... :wink:

Roderick... My understanding is that decent residential models using wood and foam board, stepped terrains, etc. can be made quickly by talented interns at a cost up to maybe $2000-James should know more about this. I'm sure the models at the Guggenheim exhibit and others like the one at the Martin complex are thousands more. I couldn't begin to tell you how many hours I've spent over the last few years playing around with it, and wouldn't be surprised if even a pro found it a challenge! This is actually the third model, of two different scales, but the only one that ended up with terrain. Luckily, Taliesin is essentially one level. I started the model as a platform at the court level; the the outer walls of the house which face the views extend to the base of the model.The terrain below was brought up to these walls. The most tedious thing was measuring the building perimeter and transferring it to be cut to fit on the foam board, then bending that into a hill slope. There was no other way to do it with the materials I used. The upper hill garden was a separate, but easier terrain (the tower and hayloft were floating in mid air for quite a while).

JJM2... I appreciate that, and no doubt you have a good understanding of the challenge! I've never looked into how 3D models are printed. I assume you still have to do a layout of some sort and "input" dimensions, etc? Also, where did you find the information for the North elevation (back of hayloft/tower/garage? This is the only area of I've never seen photographed this early, and didn't want to speculate too much. There's only one view from a long distance in the Taylor Woolley collection. Of course, we know at the time Wright was already making changes here as well as to the house and studio. If there is reference material, though, I'd love to see it...

Tom
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Post by Tom »

How did you make the stone?
Looks pretty good.
Never mind - I just read your first entry .
"taste is less important than non-conformity"
FLLW

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