Building on a theme from a few weeks ago, we will continue ruminating on how looking at ancient marble restoration techniques reflects how much has improved and also stayed the same in our industry.
Last time we talked about stain removal on marble, granite, terrazzo, limestone, or similar porous stone, using a poultice. What about honing and polishing natural stone? There hasn’t always been electric motors and 21st Century technology available to those who care for natural stone. It turns out grinding and polishing stone, like poultice, is also based on seemingly simple processes. Looking back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians offers a clue to how it is done today.
The ancient builders and sculptors found that rubbing sand, grit, or other stones on marble would grind and smooth it. A fascinating article about how this method was used in the construction of the Parthenon can be found here. It talks about the builders using large sheets of heavy metal on top of a layer of sand, which would be rubbed on top of a marble block until it was ground to fit perfectly (within a millimeter) on top of another building block. Also, ancient sculptors had to be knowledgeable of stone hardness (not unlike the modern Mohs scale), because they eventually found harder stones could be used to chip away marble, while softer stones could be used to give sculptures a polished patina. A nice article is found here.
While things have changed, they haven’t changed too much. Our clients (homeowners, condo associations, federal buildings, construction companies, etc.) calling us about dull floors can expect a similar process: the floors are ground with a harder material than the stone itself, and then polished. The harder material in this case however, is industrially-manufactured diamond grit (which is one of the hardest materials out there). And we have electric motors and machines that help us evenly and efficiently apply force to the surface, and also use water sparingly to suspend the stone dust so it doesn’t cloud up your office or homes, or worse, get in anyone’s lungs. That’s just a little glimpse of how today’s methods are also vastly better for the environment; we at Sungloss Marble Restoration continue to strive to use the most earth-friendly methods for natural stone sealing, polishing, honing, and cleaning available today. While we look back to the ancient world for inspiration, we truly look further into the future to find the best way to integrate our industry’s technology with the need to preserve our local waterways and air. We’ve come a long way since ancient times, indeed!