Tollis focuses on the restoration of buildings / monuments and sculptures, whether they involve works in stone, metal or bronze. For stone sculptures it is frequently necessary initially to make a mould of the original that will be used as a basis for the restoration. Guillaume Montagné, who followed a project on Nevers Cathedral points out: “for instance, on this cathedral we recently had to carry out a restoration operation of statues encircling the top of the steeple. The original sculptures were removed and taken to our workshop. On the copies we made, following the moulding operation, we carried out a restoration operation that consisted of restoring significant elements that were missing, like a finger, a hand, a beard, a sceptre, etc. Based on the copies, our sculptors were able to carve new stone sculptures that were then put in place around the steeple. The original sculptures are now conserved and are on display to the public in a gallery devoted to such works.”
A Verlinde top running crane at the service of sculpture
Guillaume Montagné: “Tollis has been based at Chevilly Larue in the Paris region for the last almost fifty years and our 900 m² workshop with a floor to ceiling height of 25 m can handle the most impressive sculptures and statues. The first crane was installed in 1968 for a stone cutting enterprise in the group working in these premises and it has proved its utility with assiduity until very recently. The time had come to look again at the installation for reasons of compliance, safety, reliability and ease of operation. Top running crane travel now benefits from new, more economical motorisations and a Verlinde hoist with the capacity of lifting 10 tonne loads has been installed on the double girder crane that travels on the existing metal structure. The new hoist has meant, for instance, that oil leaks and a lack of travel precision are now a thing of the past.
The VERLINDE wire rope hoist installed was selected from the EUROBLOC VT range. It actuates the lifting hook block by means of a 4-fall rope lead-off enabling totally centred vertical lifting. The hoist motors for vertical travel and the travel / long travel motors for horizontal movement provide variable speed offering the operator several advantages like jolt-free travel, no oscillation, great flexibility of movement and significant precision for offloading loads. As the sculpture workshop environment is very dusty, all components have an IP66 dust protection rating. The system incorporates various safety features: a highly efficient lifting brake, protection against overloads and travel limit switches for the hoist and crane. As each lifted load has its particularities, general control of the crane is provided by a button radio-control system enabling the operator handling any sculpture to place himself in the best possible position to carry out the manoeuvre.
A decision based on excellence
Guillaume Montagné: “When we took the decision to renovate our crane, we published an invitation for tenders and we received several bids. In terms of overall cost, the Verlinde bid submitted by their partner MANULEC was not the lowest but a detailed technical study coupled with the proposed after sales service convinced our manager, Mr Luc-Pelletier, to select the VERLINDE solution. This type of very long-term investment must be based on the decisive criteria of trust, equipment reliability and the sustainability of the supplier.
Guillaume Montagné: “Tollis, a company with a workforce of 27 (4 of whom work for the engineering department) is supported by ECMH, the Lefèvre group’s design and engineering department. For sculpture and renovation projects in the workshop and on site our teams include 7 sculptors, 12 restorers, 2 decorative staff work masons and 4 guilders. It is true that there are several institutions offering training for the last three crafts, e.g. école de Condé, école du Louvre, école d’Avignon, but for the craft of sculpting no formal training course exists. Apprentices are trained in the field under the guidance of master sculptors.
Backed by the excellence of its workforce, the Tollis enterprise is an example of cultural initiative by keeping know-how alive and by re-adopting traditional techniques when necessary as for instance with lime rendering. Our works on the ornamental Latone basin at the Château de Versailles or on the Alexander III bridge lanterns implement complementary techniques using stone, marble, metal and masonry.