The Managing Director of cosmetic repair specialist, Plastic Surgeon, Rob Mouser reveals some of his firm’s secrets for keeping high class marble in pristine condition.
The study of the Earth’s geology has allowed us to understand many processes including the build up of sedimentary rocks such as shale or limestone, and the latter’s conversion into marble through a combination of intense heat and pressure.
This process, known as metamorphosis, causes what is a relatively hard and homogenous rock type to be transformed into one of the most marvellous materials ever employed for construction work or art. It can be found displayed in some of the world’s great palaces for staircases, floors, pillars and of course, sculpture; while in the more lavish modern homes it often finds applications for bathroom features or kitchen worktops.
Yet despite its hardness and generally highly polished surface, it remains vulnerable to physical damage from many sources: which is why Plastic Surgeon is regularly called upon to perform its own brand of metamorphosis.
What sets marble aside from the great majority other rocks is the variety of colours and patterns that most types exhibit: reflecting variations in mineral content and the precise conditions under which they were formed.
The type of repair that Plastic Surgeon’s highly trained Finishers will execute depends on the nature of the situation they are presented with. In other words, what the marble has been used to build, the level of wear it is going to be exposed to, and the extent of the damage.
At the lower end of the scale of scarring which can occur are minor scratches which it may be possible to polish out in the same manner that Plastic Surgeon deals with some blemishes on glass or glazing. This will involve the Finisher employing a graduation of abrasives; first with a power sander and finally by hand, in order to restore the lustre of the surface while also maintaining its contours.
If a piece of marble has suffered a larger gouge or chip, and is not subject to heavy wear or close scrutiny, the Finisher will probably utilize the two pack/three pack fillers that feature in many of Plastic Surgeon’s interventions. The work area is built back up to slightly above the original level, to allow for the surface to be carefully sanded back, before a coat of lacquer is applied to protect it.
In some instances, however, such as at Bullford Army Camp in Wiltshire, Plastic Surgeon has been tasked with restoring the shape of marble steps or other items susceptible to further damage. And in these cases the Finisher is forced to implement our ‘gold standard’ repair.
This involves applying a series of resin based bonding coats that not only offer extremely rugged wear resistance, but also display a distinctive level of translucency/transparency. This enables the Finisher to build up the repair back towards the original profile; introducing the detail and colour as they near the surface. When a final one or two gel coats have had time to dry, the repair is completed by polishing the area to restore the shine and reflectance, which helps in concealing the work so that only an expert eye will be able to detect it.
As with almost all of Plastic Surgeon’s work, the success of the repair depends to a great deal on the skills of the Finishers, who are all taught the art of colour matching from the very beginning of their training. This allows them to mix pigments to exactly replicate the rich swirling patterns which distinguish the marbles of Italy, Greece, Asia and even the UK.
Plastic Surgeon has been asked to make good virtually every type of marble over the years, including the pure white carrara marble from which the Venus de Milo was carved; and to date we have been equal to the challenges clients have set us. So far the Louvre in Paris has not been in touch, but the company’s research and development team would always be willing to look at ways of creating two new arms for the iconic statue.
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