24 February 2008
Well executed artisanry.
I'm always impressed by well executed artisanry. This is a picture of the wall next to the passenger elevator in my lobby. This is not the building's original elevator, so at some point, an old one was taken out and a new one put in. Because the elevator is wider than the door, they had to take out a chunk of the wall, and the marble (I think it's marble...maybe Tuckahoe?) was cut away and probably destroyed.
For a long time, the panel was just blank. Recently, though, I came home, and there was this guy there with his materials spread out, faux-graining the blank panel!
Faux-graining is a very old decorative technique that has been used for centuries. It reached its apex in the united States between the Federal and lat romantic architectural movements when it was used to simulate wood or stone finishes in homes (picturesque, gothic revival, italianate, "victorian"--clear through the end of the 19th century), and hasn't been widely practiced in years...but some people still know how to do it, and do it well.
So the Columbia University Housing folks saw fit to spend the money to hire this guy to come and fill in the missing tooth in this mouth by faux-graining it, and I think it's a bang up damned job.
First, see, it would be really hard and expensive to match this stone, so getting an in-kind replacement would be tough. Although faux-graining would never have been used in a building like this, it's a beatiful and creative way to fix the problem. I'm particularly fond of the fact that there's a clear joint between the original stone and the new work--it's not so perfect that you're fooled, but it's good enough to make you look twice. Perfectly executed.
Columbia University subcontracted faux-grain painter, I salute you.