Medallions

So hey, remember our plaster ceiling medallions?

I was at a building in Oakland recently and one of the tenants there does plaster, and I mentioned the medallions to him, asking him if he knew anybody who could do restoration work on them. Well, I did him a big favour -- donated some architectural services that would have cost him a lot of money to his organization -- and he offered to help me out with the medallions. Great! He said he would come by this morning, so it was time to haul the medallions out from the hole we shoved them into in the basement.

This was challenging to get out

Mostly they came out OK, except the big one from the front parlour which was literally wider than the opening to the crawlspace where it was stashed.

Fortunately this has a happy ending: our neighbor was over and we conscripted her to help us turn the thing on its side to get it through the opening, then Noel lifted it (it's not that delicate so it worked just fine) and carried it upstairs.

Medallions in pieces

The others moved more easily. We have five plaster medallions in various states of repair, including the one that was destroyed by the electrician's apprentice. The guy looked them over, we discussed some things that might come up in restoration (they were originally cast in place on the ceiling so they have ceiling thickness built into them, for example), declared that he could definitely work with them, and he's going to come back on Monday and pick them up.

He's going to see about the right paint stripping material to use, and I offered to pay for that if he needed to buy anything (it can get pretty pricey as I well know from our own adventures with paint strippers). I may dig around in the garage at the Admiralty and see what we have left in our Peel-Away stash.

This is pretty exciting and a reminder that the skill set involved in restoring a Victorian is not the same as the skill set involved in renovating other homes without preserving details. While the contractor who did the work on our house did an amazing job, and the carpentry work especially is very well executed, arranging this kind of thing is not exactly his wheelhouse. Even if you have the best contractor, if they don't specialize in restoring Victorians (and just about nobody does) then there are going to be aspects of the work that need owner management.

posted by ayse on 07/29/17

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