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Subject: Pavement mosaics

Pavement mosaics

From: N. J. Bud Goldstone <as768>
Date: Wednesday, February 3, 1999
Karen Fix <kfix [at] getty__edu> writes

>We are working on a project involving pavement mosaics (limestone)
>where the surface has roughened over time and resulted in a loss of
>color brilliance. The maintenance crew currently tosses a bucket of
>water over the surface to enhance the colors; this, of course, is
>adding to the normal deterioration mechanisms of the mosaic.  As an
>alternative solution, we are considering applying a coating with an
>appropriate refractive index, which would then conceivably smooth
>the surface enough to reduce the reflectance and allow the colors to
>appear darker.

Some 30,000 mosaic pieces were embedded in the cement mortar of the
Watts Towers by Simon Rodia between 1921 and 1955. The work has been
exposed to the elements in South Central Los Angeles. Neither the
California Department of Recreation and Parks nor the Cultural
Affairs Department has applied coatings to the various mosaic
inserts made of glass, sea shells, glazed and unglazed tiles,
pottery. plates, rocks, etc. The decorative inserts have been
cleaned only once, primarily using water and elbow grease

It is difficult to tell the difference when comparing  photographs
from the late 1920s with those we took last week. The only coatings
we tried (unsuccessfully) were on sea shells. The effectiveness
against moisture of those coatings wore off in a few years and that
would have proved to be much too expensive.

Bud Goldstone
N. J. Bud Goldstone, Project Engineer
Watts Towers, Las Pozas & Bottle Village
co-author The Los Angeles Watts Towers Getty Publication

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:64
                Distributed: Thursday, February 4, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-64-008
Received on Wednesday, 3 February, 1999

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