stone interiors

Olive Oil and Marble in Ancient Rome

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Olive oil, undoubtedly the most versatile commodity traded during the prosperous age of the Roman Empire. Besides the usual cooking applications, olive oil was used for anything from tanning leather to fueling lamps, and even bathing. It was considered so precious that during the first Olympic Games olive oil was awarded to the winning athletes!

Olive oil is, among other things, immiscable, penetrating, and absorbing. All of which, to an ancient Roman, indicates its holiness. By the same token, it was also associated with protection from evil. As a very reverent society, the Roman empire had its fair share of tributes and memorials to the ancient gods. Statues of various gods were very often anoited with olive oil in order to preserve their sacredness.

In one particular instance, the Greek traveler and geographer Pausanias visited the statue of Zeus at Olympia. This statue was a chryselephantine sculpture, that is, a sculpture made from wood and veneered with gold and ivory. Pausanias notes in his account:

“All the floor in front of the image is paved, not with white, but with black tiles. In a circle round the black stone runs a raised rim of Parian marble, to keep in the olive oil that is poured out. For olive oil is beneficial to the image at Olympia, and it is olive oil that keeps the ivory from being harmed by the marshiness of the Altis.”
Pausanias' Account of Olympia

What's particularly interesting about Pausanias' comment is how the oil was used not only to anoint, but to protect the sculpture from the elements. Many of the qualities of olive oil correspond with the characteristics of a modern day countertop sealer. Dwellings throughout the empire, both luxurious and basic, were equipped with marble and granite. Given this account, it's probable that olive oil, on top of its other uses, was used as a sealer in ancient Rome!

History · 11 July 2013

Removing Stains From Stone Countertops - Part III

flickr Anthony Jones

Now that you know which precautions to take when cleaning up spills, what a poultice is, and how to use it, you ought to know some more particularities about using a poultice on your stone countertops.

Different chemical solvents work better for different types of stains. The MIA has recommendations for removing stains from stone countertops. We’ve summarized their information below in a table that categorizes common household stains and provides surface treatment instructions and the chemical solvent to be used with diatomaceous earth.

A poultice should only be used if the surface treatment fails to remove the stain. In that case, ensure the surface is clean of any chemicals used for the surface treatment. Likewise, a surface treatment should only be used if the spill cleaning process described in the first post of this series doesn’t work.

Stain Type Stain Appearance Surface Treatment Chemical Solvent
(grease, tar, cooking oil, oil paints, milk, cosmetics)
Oil stains will darken the color of the stone Apply a degreaser to the surface and let it sit for 5-10 minutes Mineral Spirits
(coffee, tea, fruit, tobacco, urine, leaves, bird droppings)
Pink or Brown blobs Pool 35% Hydrogen Peroxide on stain, add 3 drops of Ammonia, wait until bubbling stops 12% Hydrogen Peroxide
(iron, rust, copper, bronze)
Orange or Brown blobs (iron) Green blobs (copper) Gently wash area with soap and water Rust Remover (iron) Ammonia (copper)
(algae, mildew, lichens, moss, fungi)
Green to Dark Green patches Wash area with diluted bleach Diluted Bleach
(½ cup bleach per gallon of water)
(magic marker, pen, ink)
Dark matte patches of streaks Carefully wipe with a clean rag and acetone Toulene
Fire and Smoke Dark splatters Apply a degreaser to the surface and let sit for 5-10 minutes Degreaser

And there you have it, a poultice recipe for virtually every kind of stain in existence! As you’ve likely noticed, some of the listed chemicals are rather heavy duty. That being the case, if you do find yourself making use of them, be sure to take the proper precautions when dealing with chemicals. If you’d rather just contact a professional in order to remove a stain, you can use this tool to locate an MIA member nearest to you.

Owning Stone · 9 July 2013

Veteran's Memorial in Stone

Now standing in a serene clearing at Fairhope's Knoll Park is a permanent reminder of freedoms afforded to us by the sacrifices of our Armed Forces. It is a fountain that overlooks the Municipal Pier, where an American flag constantly waves. On top of this fountain is an arrangement of stone forms, shaped to represent the joy and sorrow of a warring nation's people.

Kneeling at one end is a soldier handing a symbol of freedom, the American flag, to a child. The expression on the soldier's face is one of solitude and happiness. The child reaches out to receive the flag as his body is braced by the soldier's arm.

At the other end is a sullen woman, cradling a folded flag in her arms. Both the sorrow and reverence for her loved one is evident by her bowed head. With her feet staggered, positioned to take a forward step, it's clear that through the tragedy of this ultimate sacrifice she will endure.

These figures were sculpted by Stephen C. Spears, NSS. Mr. Spears is a resident of Baldwin county and a Signature Member of the National Sculpture Society. His career as a sculptor includes several military memorials located all over the world.

Additionally, we at Stone Interiors are proud to have contributed to this memorial. We provided the material, fabricated, and installed both granite pedastals on which the sculptures are set. The opportunity to contribute to such a dignified project is truly an honor. We hope that you visit the memorial when in the area, as it is, just like the surrounding landscape, beautiful.

Community · 4 July 2013

Removing Stains From Stone Countertops - Part II

Previously, we shared a few tips on how to approach cleaning spills on your stone countertops. Sometimes, unfortunately, it can’t be helped and surfaces get stained. There’s still something that can be done to remove the stain, even after it’s settled, and that is by utilizing a poultice.

A poultice is a paste made out of an absorbent medium, and a chemical solvent. There are two mechanisms at work inside the poultice mixture. First, the chemical solvent breaks down whatever contaminant has penetrated the surface being treated. Second, the absorbent medium, a solid substance, begins to dry and as a result, lifts the solvent and dissolved contaminant out of the surface. It’s these properties that make a poultice useful for anything from cleaning stains on stone to drawing out the venom from a snake bite!

For treating stone countertops, a poultice mixture of hydrogen peroxide and diatomaceous earth will work for most stains that penetrate the surface. 1-5 applications of this poultice will eliminate the stain. Follow this procedure when making and applying a poultice:

  1. Create a mixture of the absorbent medium and chemical solvent so that it has a peanut-butter-like consistency
  2. Spread a patch of the poultice ¼”-½” thick over the stain
  3. Loosely cover the patch with plastic wrap and use painter’s tape to adhere it to the surface of the stone
  4. Poke a few holes into the plastic cover
  5. Allow the poultice to sit for 24 hours
  6. When the poultice is dry (reduced to a powder) carefully remove it with a putty knife
  7. If the poultice didn’t succeed in completely removing the stain, repeat steps 1-7
  8. Thoroughly polish and reseal the surface

Hydrogen peroxide is good for dealing with stains that originate from organic sources. That includes things you might commonly find in your kitchen: fruits and vegetables, coffee and tea, and so on. Stains of other origins require different chemical solvents in order to be effective. Next time, we’ll guide you to choosing the right solvent to remove stains from your stone countertops.

Owning Stone · 2 July 2013

A Remarkably Modern Southern Kitchen

Material Caesarstone Oyster
Area 36 ft²
Cost $2400

Tucked into a quiet subdivision, this home resembles any other home on its street. Just like its peers, the house is wrapped in brick and topped with laminate shingles. Inside, however, you’ll find a kitchen design that bound to surprise and delight!

Favoring clean lines and cool colors, this Southern kitchen is quite modern. The quartz countertops, Oyster by Caesarstone, have specks of blue and yellow in their mosaic composition. This little detail is echoed in the tile backsplash, which is white save for the occasional blue or yellow tile.

One of the elements of this design which really appropriates the label of “modern kitchen” is the cabinetry, custom built by Soltis Custom Furniture. With broad, stainless steel handles and no decorative moldings in sight, these cabinets are primarily functional. The refrigerator and freezer were both enclosed by the cabinets, unifying the entire wall into a single style.

The designer of this kitchen, Charis Rogers, aimed for creating a care-free kitchen, in response to the owner’s request. The stainless steel Bosch appliances, recommended by Mobile Appliance, definitely contribute to this aspect.

Thanks for reading!

Showcase · 28 June 2013

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