Sunday, 18 May 2008
Whilst working on the mammoth task of removing the cement based mortar that is slowly destroying the ashlar blocks of the Victorian gothic I am currently working on I often look at the pictured piece of stonework. This particular corbel actually serves no function other than pure decoration (and why should it?) and for some reason it is as pristine as the day it was cut 160 years ago. How it escaped the staining from the pollution of Britain's golden (smudged) age of industry is totally beyond me...but it glows with the freshness of newly liberated stone making me more aware than I need to be of my own inadequate attempts at stone repair. The stone from which the house is built is no longer available and I have to make repairs from the limited amount of stone I have managed to salvage.Besides being used on the victorian villas on this side of the water it was also used surprisingly, much later on to clad some of the Empire State building. It is quite surprising how much damage in a short period can be done to old stonework by the unthinking application of cement mortar,destroying in one generation the work of long gone masons. I for my sins need to continue carefully removing the offending cement,replacing with the much more sympathetic ,if more awkward to apply lime mortar, a seemingly never ending task.Until I finish,this unmoving corbel will keep a unblinking and hopefully approving watch on my hamfisted if well meaning efforts.