Sunday, March 3, 2013

Raising the Holy Grail...I mean Rail

Greetings friends! It's been a really long time since I have taken the time to write anything here. Partially because I have been so incredibly busy.

One of my recently completed favorite projects is managing the stone and mosaic installation of the masterful altar pieces, by master artisan and craftsman Sirio Tonelli, at Church of the Holy Cross Church in Belmont CA. Maestro (teacher or master in Italian) Tonelli used two young Italian master craftsmen and myself of course, to help him implement this dream project and major undertaking.
Sirio Tonelli & Thomas Sperow

I'm the master craftsman handling the fabrication and installation of the stone wall surrounds and an altar niche in Rojo Alicante marble and Botticino marble and the marble wainscoting and baseboards all along the wall around the altar. The stairs, with their flowing curves leading up to the altar were also done in Botticino marble with tile risers. It looks gorgeous. I also managed the installation project of the massive mosaic screen called the "Iconostasis".

Marble wall cover, altar piece foundation and mosaic installation

Here are several parts of the large scale mosaic Iconostases as they were unearthed from the shipping crates direct from Italy where they were assembled.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Lone Stonemason on a Mission to Restore the Horse in Golden Gate Park

In case you haven't already seen this on KTVU evening news, here is Tom FINALLY getting some press for this phenomenal undertaking and he's getting some well-deserved, positive praise for his charitable restoration project for Vet Anderson's horse in Golden Gate Park. Tom is indeed a lone man on a lonely mission to keep this beautiful horse bas-relief sculpture from crumbling away. It's not just the elements threatening the demise of this 1937 WPA era sculpture, it's the vandals.

Their hands are literally picking away at the gutted sculpture and as previously blogged, nasty green spray paint has added more unnecessary damage.
Tom Sperow is a true artist and a craftsman of another time. Let's make sure that his efforts and his work get recognized by helping him get to the restoration's end before the horse disappears altogether at the hands of vandals!  --photos and post by Ingrid Sperow

Monday, November 22, 2010

Restoring the Horse 2010

It was a glorious day in San Francisco; one of those memorable, typically autumn, sixty-something degrees, with no wind blowing, days in Golden Gate Park.
Thomas Sperow has finally had the opportunity, after a busy year and despite economy slow-down and remodel pull-backs, to return to his beloved, charitable project of restoring Vet Anderson’s WPA horse bas-relief sculpture (c . 1937) in Golden Gate Park’s Horseshoe Courts. In July 2010, the scaffolding was erected in front of the horse bas-relief in order to commence restoration work on it. I’ve included photos of several views of the horse dated both Sept 2009, and Nov 2010; you can make your own comparisons of how much more damage has occurred.
Unfortunately, it looks like vandals decided to use the erected scaffolding for their own defacing motives. The horse has been neglected for too long and it just seems to get worse with that one-step forward, two-steps back feeling looming about. The friable horse sculpture has once again been effaced. The muzzle, the ear and the eyes have been spray-painted an electric green. The horse’s face actually looks very sad now as a result of the inept deface artist’s feeble attempt of artistic expression.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Restoration Project

Friday, August 28, 2009
Today I met with Peter Zepponi & various San Francisco Rec & Park representatives at the Golden Gate Park Horseshoe Courts regarding the restoration of the Vet Anderson bas-relief sculptures. All I can say is that horse is huge and there’s a whole lot of restoring required. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of restoring these two very unique bas-relief sculptures especially because San Francisco Rec & Park and the City of SF may be backing up my donated efforts with some grant funding, materials and man power.
I took away several broken pieces of crumbling cement coming off the Pitching Man. I wanted to make sure that vandals didn’t run off with these very essential pieces to the rest of the leg restoration where more severe crumbling is taking place. It’s all very friable as this sculpture made of cement, was buried under earth and brush, and has now been recently exposed to the elements. Under the cement bas-relief sculpture is just San Francisco sandstone which needs to be stabilized as well. Furthermore, homeless people have returned to this space, now cleared of debris and continue to build fires, tag graffiti and throw rocks and other things at the sculptures creating more damage.
I took the pieces to my workshop and started cleaning them by washing them with plain water. I set them out to dry. Today was a perfect day for that as it was about 100 F. The next step will be to start on-site cleaning by removing dirt from the inside of the leg of Pitching Man and to start stabilizing the leg and reattaching the pieces that I cleaned today.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The pieces cleaned up well and I used a 2-part epoxy to glue the 3 fragments of Pitching Man’s leg together. The epoxy requires a 48-hour drying process to properly cure; the fragments are clamped and positioned so as not to apply incorrect pressure, but just enough pressure to repair the fractures with the help of the epoxy. In two days I can continue the crack repair and restoration of the fragments of the leg piece of Pitching Man.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Now that the leg fragments have been curing and settling for 48-hours, the next step of the restoration process will be to transport the now repaired leg to Pitching Man at the Horseshoe Courts in Golden Gate Park. Once there, I will continue to attach the leg piece that I’ve glued to the rest of the body of Pitching Man. I’ll fill in the cracks and repair fissures where needed as well as stabilize any areas that need it. I’ll work to match the existing colors and textures of the weathered Pitching Man bas-relief sculpture to make him look like he’s been there since 1937 and admired by the on-lookers rather than damaged and ravaged by man and Mother Nature…yes, in that order.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Still working on the Pitching Man and talking to a lot of great people as they walk by. Everyone who walks by is really appreciative of all the work that has taken place to restore the Horseshoe Courts and in particular, the Vet Anderson bas-relief sculptures. The biggest challenge of repairing the Pitching Man was coordinating my available time with the weather so that it was warm enough for the cement and epoxies to dry thoroughly and set. And that’s nothing compared to the challenge that will ensue with the restoration and repair of the Horse sculpture.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Professional Sealing of your Natural Stone Counters

When is it a good time to re-seal your natural stone counters? Maybe you need a weekend away?

Granite, limestone and marble counters require yearly professional re-sealings to maintain their natural beauty and luster. Any stain removal and chip repair would also take place at this point too if required. While you’re having your counters sealed, you may as well have the grout replaced too; this procedure removes the water stain build up and mildew accumulation in the grout. (Stonemason Tip: count on having this procedure take about 72 hours to completely dry…in other words, go away for the weekend right after this is done!)

Soapstone has a different approach to sealing than marble, granite or limestone. Because soapstone requires the user to seal the counters on a weekly basis with food grade mineral oil for the first few months and then monthly thereafter, it is a slightly more maintenance intensive countertop—but well worth the effort.

Are there any counters that do not require sealing and repetitive maintenance?

Yes there are. Caesarstone©,Zodiac© and Silestone © are man-made quartzite materials used for counters, floors, walls, etc. These materials are an excellent option for those who don’t want to think about maintenance or sealing ever. They all come in amazing colors ranging from choices that look like natural stone to flamboyant colors like orange, glittery red, outer space blue or green apple.

GG Park Sculptures - Vet Anderson - San Francisco Horseshoe Pitching

GG Park Sculptures - Vet Anderson - San Francisco Horseshoe Pitching

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Daily Cleaning & Maintenance of your Granite or Marble Counter

Everyone has a product out there that they’re trying to convince you to buy to clean and maintain your natural stone counters. Why invest more money on daily maintenance products? You’ve already spent a small fortune on your gorgeous stone counters- now, just enjoy them for many years to come! In reality, the greenest and most economical cleaning agent to maintain the beauty and life of your natural stone counters is already within reach: warm water and a dry terry cloth. Oh…you don’t have any terry cloth? Well then use an old towel or an old wash cloth.

The best and easiest way to keep your counters clean is to wipe them down to remove debris with a warm, wet sponge and then use a dry terry cloth to dry off the stone at the end of each day.

Do not use harsh cleaners on your natural stone counters because they will dull the finish, leave a film or residue and possibly etch the surface. Repolishing or removing etches or scratches from your natural stone counters could cost hundreds of dollars. Harsh cleaners would include any kitchen counter cleaners that contain ammonia, bleach or pine derivatives; vinegar based and citrus based cleaners are also too harsh for natural stone. If you feel that warm water and a terry cloth is not enough for your “sense of clean”, then please use any number of specific granite/marble cleaners available at the grocery store or the hardware store. These specific cleaners will help to preserve the natural beauty of the stone’s finish while cleaning.

Why should you perform this daily maintenance of wiping and drying? Because moisture build up is detrimental to your natural stone counters and because moisture and water discolor stone and because mold grows around moisture. Moisture causes the caulking around the sink and seams to go moldy and to fail and then the water leaks cause further damage to cabinets and walls. If you’ve discovered that the caulking around the sinks and seams has already failed, please call your stone contractor to reapply new, specific to your counters, color-matched caulking before any further damage occurs. This project requires a 48-hour non-usage rule-of-thumb after reapplying new caulking in order for the caulking to have the maximum possibility to cure. For example, try to have this project done the day before you leave for a weekend getaway.