Deep in the bowels of a nondescript building at 3610 South Morgan Street in Bridgeport, there’s a room off-limits to visitors.
It’s where Decorators Supply Corporation keeps every hand-sculpted oak and walnut carving its ever created. There are 13,000 different designs, dating back to the early 1900’s. They’re used to create new production moulds and from those, composition ornaments. The carving room is a living history of design. It’s also protected from the rest of the shop in a fireproof storage area.
That’s a good thing if you’re an interior designer who wants to recreate, say, an Italian Renaissance Corinthian column cap; you’re in luck. The same is true for obscure crown moldings, ceiling designs or fireplace mantel decorations.
Just browse through Decorators Supply’s historic catalogs online and you’ll get a sense of both the history and craftsmanship that went into these ornate carvings. The company’s works were even showcased during the 1893 Columbian Exposition. Today they’re often seen festooning the sets of big-budget Hollywood movies.
The Decorators Supply composition, wood and plaster shops were featured during the 2013 Open House Chicago event run by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
Hand-carved ornamentation is somewhat of a lost art. There are few companies that specialize in the field, and Decorators Supply Corp. is one of the largest. They primarily use the same technique to product plaster moulds that was used a century ago: gypsum, water and hemp.
Decorators Supply does some custom work, but with thousands of design options available, most of its work is recreations from its vast catalogs.