STYLING the ABSTRACT

Post 622 –by Gautam Shah

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Expression is main intention in fields like literature, art, architecture, fashion, and other branches of design. The expression has content that is implicit, subtle or explicit. Besides the content the expression emerges from a mix of medium and technique. The content as inspiration or realization depends on the intensity of personal relevance and comes in from many different fields. The medium and technique derive from many different geographies and eras.

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View of Gopuram (Gate Tower) Sri Mariamman Temple  Singapore > Wikipedia image by AngMoKio

The expression is sometimes made devoid of any content. But, one is never satisfied with the abstraction, and to achieve a better result it is tried over and over again. It results into an ‘abstract style’. The abstract style in absence of the content is strongly rooted with the medium and technique. Somewhere the ‘abstract’ begins to acquire a metaphoric meaning.

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‘Style is a characteristic or group of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or tenacious.’ + ‘Artistic style is the sum of constant, recurring or coherent traits identified with a certain individual or group.’ -Living With Art, Rita Gilbert

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Capriccio Palasttreppe > ART By Bernardo Bellotto 1721-1780

Such metaphoric content is matured by someone, but is invigorated by others in different time and space. And if the content, medium and techniques are different from the origins of inspiration, then ‘what is that‘ –Style or the Manner are reassessed. If style is holistic concept consisting of several characteristics, accepted and practised coherently by several persons across different fields of expressions, than Manner is a set of selected components that substantively codifies the ‘stylized expression’. Styles are creations that are distanced in locations and occasions, but with some re-collective connection. A stylized expression may not have cogency to the original. It is the mental image or glory that becomes the manner.

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Dragon gate at Guell Pavilions by Gaudi

Manners or ‘stylistic elements often reflect a period, a socio-political-economic environment. The scrutiny of the expressed forms into lines or shapes, frontal or angular views, foreground or background, the tempo, sensorial aberrations, colour or tonal gradations, etc. is imprecise. So manner criticism relies more on discreet terms to connote restrained, evasive reasonableness. A ‘manner’ is full of cramped codes, with silly and arbitrary rules.

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Atlantis supporting the balcony Tyszkiewicz-Potocki palace Warsaw > Wikipedia image by Bartosz MORAG

‘Mannerism, derived from the Italian maniera (manner) is a specific phase of the general Renaissance style, but manner is used very widely.’ Manner derives from Anglo-French manere, > Old French maniere > from Vulgar Latin *manaria (Spanish-manera, Portuguese-maneira, Italian-maniera, Dutch-manier, German-manier, Swedish-maner), > from fem. of Latin manuarius (belonging to the hand), from manus ‘hand’.

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Wassily Chair (Model 3B) designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925-26 at Bauhaus > Wikipedia image by Lorkan (Flickr)

Style and Manner both need, time and process to spread and sink into the society. The process of spread was accelerated manifold during the industrial age, due to faster means of travel and communications. The styles and manners, however, were recognized, and equally rapidly forgotten. These though incarnated themselves in other fields.

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Wall mural on singers of seventies > Wikipedia image by Alain Bertrand

Cubism remained with painting, sculpture and architecture and has not found expression elsewhere. Deconstructivism of literature by Derrida did not come to architecture till means of realization like CAD tools were available. Sensualism, psychedelic arts and make-believe in the cinema and graphics, are expressions still tied to the passage of time. Perhaps some different techniques of expression and realization are due. The concept of minimalism and sustainability may converge, and manifest as architecture of thinness and gravity defying stances. Compared with this literature is protuberant, still relying on elaboration and on metaphor.

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Luxor temple Egypt > Cartouches for Ramesses II > Wikipedia image by Asta

In fields like art, sculpture, architecture, fashion and other branches of design, which rely on expression through use of material and technology, changes in physical sciences are going to be the driving forces. In other fields of expressions like literature, performing arts, communications, the changes in behavioural and biological sciences will re-define the perception mechanism of the content.

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Story telling > ART by Albrecht Anker 1884

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MEANING of CRAFT – 2

Post 529 –by Gautam Shah

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profession of thatching is learned through apprenticeship in Germany Wikipedia image by Author Joachim Müllerchen

Craft has been considered an activity involving skills of making things by hand. The use of hand and the output product have been collectively called the handiwork. Where the products reflect the creative crafting, it is called a handicraft.  have existed from very ancient The process of doing things by hand has THREE essential facets, One: converting the raw material, and Two: processing (crafting) it into a product. Three:  Redefining tools for the material, product to be designed and experience through the process. Such distinctive identifications, perhaps in terms of persons handling it,times, One person’s product was another inspiration to intervene and innovate. The material producer and the object manufacturer, both used their hand-skills and experience for making things. With experience not only the materials but resultant products continued to evolve. The handicraft has been synonymous with an effort where the material and forming processes offer a seamless sense of creativity. This perception, over the years has grown stronger. And the Craft has been considered an activity involving skills of making things by hand. Purists have felt that craft cannot be but by hand.

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Indus Priest/King Statue 175mm carved from steatite or soapstone from Mohenjo-daro Now in National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan Wikipedia image / Source world66.com by Author Mamoon Mengal

Since ancient times the crafts person could not afford to spend time and resources to scout materials and further process it. This created a situation of mutual dependencies as well as a sense of value. Metal ores and other minerals need to be searched, collected, refined and sintered or smelted. Similarly stones require mining, dressing and transportation before could be used for construction. Fibers like cotton, hemp or linen, all need several different grades of processing, spinning before could be used for fabric-crafts. Material procuring and processing allowed production of raw materials that are used for different crafts. There were several layers of material processes, and each handled by different set of people in different regions. There was a time the material producer and the user or the craft’s people were directly linked, but soon the traders became the agents.

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Leopold Reichling prehistoric collection Wikipedia image by Author PlayMistyForMe

The raw material processing is production, and was not qualified as craft work. Historically material processing was ‘hand-work’, but the output products though innovative as a range, was not necessarily creative at individual level. Craft has had many different interpretations over the ages and in instances across societies and cultures. A crafted item ends with the user or the connoisseur. This link remained very strong for several centuries, but somewhere the craftsmen began to rely on traders to market the craft-products. There were yet many ‘living-crafts’ that were useful as part of living, but not a deliverable product. These were life-style things that were important as the process of creation, such as the craft of building dwellings, public structures, farming cooking, building, painting, etc. Here the hand-skills of the creator, improvisations and deliverance were important.

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Crafts gained a sharper meaning with emergence of Guilds in medieval period. The guilds were formed to protect the tradition where the craftsmen designed, executed and traded the work. Guilds were able to do this by suppressing internal competition, but more by focus sing on their regional exclusivity. The regional exclusivity of a guild gave rise to folk-craft of the place. A folk-craft had TWO strong characteristics, exclusive access to processed raw materials, and restricted training of skills within the family or clan through ‘close-door’ apprenticeship. Raw materials were supplied by traders across regions, but the secondary processing was local, in terms of the tools, techniques and materials used. This was ardently supported by local crafts-people, through their clan or guild.

Saint Eligius in his Gold-smithy workshop Wikipedia image by Master of Balaam (fl. circa 1440–1550)

During medieval period the consumers or the connoisseurs also knew the value of exclusivity of the crafted product. The monetary value and pride for the local but exclusive items were immense. Crafts became branded with regions, cities or towns of origin, as much as with the identity of the crafts person and craft centre. The connoisseurs also established their production units. The production was designed for single commission for a specific user, or sometimes in batches with minor variations. The creations were ‘craft-products’ because it involved use of individual skills, had scope of improvisation and it did not use many “automated” processes.

Craftsman selling Cases by a teak wood building Ahmedabad Wikipedia image Painting by Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903)

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In modern times we have access to many automated tools and equipment to do things far more efficiently and creatively. These facilities are used in two distinct ways. In pre-industrial age the use was in batch processing. Each batch and tasks within it, were amenable to innovations. During industrial age and thereafter, continuous or on-line production set-ups emerged. These arrangements required jigs, dies and other fixed facilities with specific tooling. The continuous productions allow very minor changes or improvisations in production style. These were than not considered craft items. Such dialogues were occurring mainly due to the Arts and Crafts movement of the times. It was perceived that an industrial product or use of machines to format it, dilutes the essence of craft.

Chocolatier preparing Easter eggs and rabbits Wikipedia image by Author Oriel

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UNDERSTANDING LACQUERS

Post 498 –by Gautam Shah

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Cosmetic Box

In early 1920 Lacquers were considered industrial coatings, mainly used by White-goods and Automotive industry. Earlier to this period a Lac or Shellac coatings were wood craft finishing techniques and material. Industrial age lacquers were favoured due to their fast drying and non-yellowing properties. Clear Lacquers were increasingly replacing tin as MS sheet coating for food packing but were found suitable for aluminium sheets packing such as collapsible tubes and canisters. Lacquers were also used for the nail polishes and as hair fixing sprays. These lacquers as the name suggests were not made of natural Lac or shellac but from Nitro Cellulose. The lacquers needed thinners of various types for different application technologies and seasons.

Lacquer Paint Pic from Wikipedia by Author Victorgrigas

Oil paints based on Alkyd resins or GP Enamels need thinner of single solvent material such as Genuine turpentine, Mineral turpentine and in few instance Naphtha or superior grades of kerosene would work. These solvents singly can work for all application needs and for cleaning-washing post-painting work. With alkyd-based paints, a resin is the film-forming component. It is reduced in viscosity during the manufacturing and later during application. The requirements of solvent-s differ according to ‘length of the resin’ (which designates the proportion of oil versus other modifying-polymerizing agents, such as typically a phthalic anhydride). Short-oil length resins may require stronger solvents. A solvent that dilutes the viscosity alone may not achieve application level of viscosity. Some type carrier or diluent solvents are required which acting as a ‘carrier’ material help achieves application level (such as spraying) viscosity. The carrier solvents evaporate fast before the chain linking (and so film forming-drying) process starts at ambient temperature, raised or baking temperature or through a catalyst enabled reaction.

Wood Brushing Lacquer Pic from Wikipedia Pic by Author Mk2010

The word Lacquer has become a misnomer. A Lacquer in nominal usage means a coating system that is fast drying, tougher and non-yellowing. All lacquers, however, are not NC (nitro-cellulose) lacquers. Other Lacquer coating systems formulations are based on Acrylic resins, Amino resins, Urethane and epoxy systems. NC lacquer dries with evaporation of solvents, at ambient temperature or often in warm chambers. Other formulations require baking-stoving environments or have two-pack system (a catalyst and paint mixed just before application). A NC lacquer film can be wetted-dissolved after drying (such as Nail-polishes of pre 1965 era) by a thinner, and are called ‘non-convertible systems’ (product that does not get chemically converted into something else). But newer generation-lacquers cannot be dissolved or removed easily after drying, and are called ‘convertible systems’ (product that gets chemically converted into something different).

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Lacquer Nail Polish Pic through Wikipedia -Source http://www.flickr.com/photos/zitona/4733601645/ by Author » Zitona «

All types of Lacquers, convertible or non-convertible products require very specific type of thinner. A company that formulates the paint system, for reasons of Patent knowledge, may not reveal the exact formulation. So it is very necessary to use the thinner specified by the manufacturer. A thinner is a combination of different solvents. There are two important considerations, action of dissolving and diluting (acting as a carrier), and evaporation rates of the solvents. A Lacquer system may need as much as 75% or more thinners for spray like application. But after the deposition on the surface, it does not require such low viscosity. So some solvents (usually diluent or carrier) begin to evaporate very quickly. Some other slower evaporating solvents, allow time for film to level out.

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Lacquer coated Brass

A lacquer-thinner is a combination of solvents of basic Five groups. First group consists of latent solvents like Toluene, xylene and naphtha. The other three groups are of active solvents such as, ketones, esters, glycol ethers. Alcohol, though a latent solvent, in combination with other solvents plays an active role.

Lacquer thinners are affected by the weather and process of application. A normal thinner works for average temperature-moisture conditions. For very wet, windy weather and for brushing or manual polishing with a cloth bundle, reduced the rate of evaporation achieved by adding or using a ‘retarder thinner’. For spray like application, an accelerated rate of drying is possible and for this accelerator or fast lacquer thinners are used. Spray applications require more and faster drying thinner compared to wood lacquers that require less and slow drying thinner.

Channapatna-toys

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Shellac finishes were the first true clear coatings. Shellac is an insect exudate known as stick lac. Stick-Lac is refined to remove impurities and lighten its colour. Button-Lac is a manually purified is of darker colour, while machine purified shellac is often dewaxed and de-colourized. Shellac is soluble in methylated spirit or alcohols. Sankheda furniture and Chinese lacquer items are examples of shellac coatings. Shellac is a very effective coating material even in very thin viscosity, as a result its penetration and filling capacity is excellent. It is eminently recoatable so a very level and glossy surface is possible.

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COPPER -1

Post 477 –by Gautam Shah

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Pure copper nodule 40 mm across

Copper resources of the world are estimated at nearly 5.8 trillion pounds. Of these only about 0.7 trillion pounds have been mined to date. The recycling and recovery rates of copper are so high that of nearly all of the copper mined throughout history, is still in circulation today. This means nearly 80 % of all copper ever mined is still in use today.

Malachite, Zaire> Uploaded by JJ Harrison

Copper was discovered by prehistoric man, in search of shiny stones that when beaten did not break down but rather flattened out. This was sensational discovery leading to search of shiny nodules across lands. Pure Gold and Copper nodules were forged into items of adornments and tools. It was known that several nodules of such pure metals could be forged to form a larger piece. Such nodule findings were rare. But two forms of copper carbonates greenish malachite and bluish azurite were easy to identify and collect from the grounds. Malachite was also used as a gemstone. Similarly many other bright minerals were identified.

Neoclassical vase in malachite in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg Uploaded by Dezidor

Azurite 80 x 60 mm Azuritechessy.jpg Uploaded by Archaeodontosaurus

Copper was known around 10000 BC or even earlier. Earliest copper object, a pendant dating 8700 BC, was found Iraq. Copper, in natural nodules form, remained a prized material for a while, but soon became a metal of utility. Unalloyed copper is soft for tools and weapons, but fairly suitable for shaping of utensils. Mesopotamia and Egypt exploited copper for creating tools used in farming, wood working, cooking, etc. These were hoes, adzes, saws, combs , pots, dishes, chisels, harpoons, cloak-pins etc. By 6000 BC it was realized that, although copper was not amenable to casting, it could be worked by hammering, chasing, engraving, and cold-rolling. Sumerians used copper sheets to form sculptures over wooden forms and fastened on walls with copper nails or wires set in bitumen.

Imdugud (also Zu or Anzu), the lion-headed eagle; Sumerian metalwork (sheets of copper), Temple of Ninhursag at Tell al-‘Ubaid; ca. 2500 BC

The Roman supply of copper almost entirely came from Cyprus, and so was known as metal of Cyprus, shortened to cyprium, later corrupted to cuprum. Copper is found at many locations as a primary mineral in basaltic lavas and also as reduced form of copper compounds. It occurs in combination with many minerals, such as chalcocite, chalcopyrite, bornite, cuprite, malachite, and azurite. It is an extremely ductile and malleable metal with high tensile strength. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electric. It is a very noble metal and by acting as a cathode can corrode other contagious metals except stainless steel. It is resistant to most acids and sea water.

Bronze decoration

A Copper alloy with tin is known as bronze. Bronze is a stronger alloy, and harder than both the pure metals. Bronze can be cast. A copper with zinc is called Brass. It was also known that by hammering the copper became hardened, ideal for creation hard edged tools. Copper and its alloys, bronze and brass, mark the first science revolution of man. However, relative scarcity of tin in many regions of the world did not allow use Bronze equally everywhere. Tin-based bronzes were preferred due to the hazard of arsenic poisoning from fumes produced by the oxidation of arsenic-containing minerals. Copper-arsenic alloys, of superior properties to copper in both cast and wrought form, were produced in many regions. Arsenic contents varied from 1 to 7 percent, with up to 3 percent tin. In many civilizations the production of pure copper, arsenical copper, and tin bronze continued together for some time.

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WOOD SURFACE FINISHING

Post 472 –by Gautam Shah

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Woods’ surfaces have some inherent qualitative characteristics. These relate primarily to the species of wood, broadly the Softwoods and Hardwoods. Other features include presence of oils or resins, food transfer cells, pores, nature of grains (straight, entwined, interlocked, curly or mottled), and local variations of grain colours. Timbers in spite of good seasoning practices show changes in the wood surface during various seasons, stresses and over long term conduct. Wood products are created from young timbers (freshly seasoned) as well as reuse of aged timbers. Wood finishes, are applied on fresh timbers, for conservation of existing status, and for rejuvenation or reformation exercises.

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Wood finishes are broadly of three classes: 1. Finishing done to timbers, 2. Finishing fashioned after a product or item is formed and 3 Finish processes for repairing or reconditioning an existing product.

Clonfert Cathedral Choir Stalls being Ammonia fumed to darken the colour and enhance grains

1 Finishing done to timbers is accomplished with sizing and shaping operations, and include levelling and straightening of the surface.

2 Finishes fashioned after a product or item is formed, are of two types: Finishing with tools, relating to micro-removal of surface material, by grinding, sandpapering, burnishing, singeing, etc. Finishing, a surface, with applique materials, such as surface sealing, putty application, staining and coating. In some instances it may include covering with film, foil or printing.

3 Finish processes for repairing or reconditioning an existing product may involve full or partial removal of existing applied finishes, re-levelling or straightening of an original timber surface to correct deformation of bending, warping, surface irregularities caused by differential shrinking. The removal of existing applied finish is most difficult as it is a matter of conservation, preservation, correction, all in a very limited scale of intervention.

Soft wood planks


Differential wood grain colour

SOFTWOODS are in dull in colour, light in weight and soft grained, but not always inferior in quality. The sap and heart portions are not very different in colour. Soft woods are easy to finish by planing and sanding. A finished surface exposes the tender portions, the remnants of food transfer areas. And these are likely to shrink and decay over a long period, in spite of seasoning. Small amounts of aliphatic compounds, waxy and resinous substances give a fresh wood, a short lasting, smooth feel and slight sheen. Softwoods due the grain structure and the constituents are difficult to stain. Its surface cannot be well sealed and leveled by chalk or oxide pigments, but a coat of very low viscosity NC Lacquer can seal the face.

Pine wood

Softwood articles are difficult to restore, as the wood grains of aged article show uneven settlement. To correct this, entire applique coating must be removed, and surface re-ground, or heavy surface filling by low opacity minerals is required. Old timber articles show very dry surface, which is prone to chipping along the grain.

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HARDWOOD Quebracho Colorado wooden sleepers of Argentine origin in Uruguay

 HARDWOODS are darker in colour and heavier in weight. In hard woods, the heart portions are fairly distinguishable from the sap portions. On planing and sanding the hardwood surface, intermittent branches of pores, the food transfer areas are clearly visible. The pores are very narrow in width and short in length. The pores on drying tend to shrink in but being fewer and tightly packed by the surrounding fibres, effect of moisture transfer is not very acute as with soft woods. Hardwoods are tough grained and require greater efforts for smoothing, but the finished surface retains its fairness much longer.

Abies grandis (grand FIR) Trunk section

Rough finishes are cheaper, take less time to prepare and require simple tools and techniques. Some rough surfaces give better bondage to preservatives and coatings. Rough surfaces are good for moisture movement but are highly vulnerable to insect and bacterial growth. Rough finishes hide local defects such as stains, knots, ugly grains, fine cracks etc.

Rough or as sawn finish of Hardwood

Smooth finishes are costly, require fine tools and superior techniques. Smooth finish often give poor bondage to preservatives and coatings but one requires much lesser quantity for coverage. Such finishes collect little dirt. Smooth finishes are not as susceptible to bacterial growth as the rough finishes. The timbers for smooth finish should have a fine grain pattern. Heart portions are much better for smooth finish then sap portions. Sap portions may however be finished fairly smooth, provided are immediately covered with moisture proof coating. Hardwoods usually provide smoother finish and of permanent type then soft woods.

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Woods with resinous or oily substances generally have smooth feel, however, if the substances are reactive or soluble in water or aliphatic solvents, may create problems during coating. Sisam and rosewood have oily or waxy face, which does not allow oil paints or varnish finish. Such woods need to be covered with very thin coatings based on solvent evaporation drying; like nitro cellulose lacquer. Timber surfaces are flame charred or singed to provide slightly darker to black tone to selected areas. The flame is either ‘cool’ capable of depositing carbon, or `hot’ to singe the surface.

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Wood craft finishes or applique coatings for gloss, equalizing the surface textures, protection or colour staining all must be inconsideration of the quality of timber. The degree of Gloss is the the main determinant, How a carved piece would appear. Low gloss finishes add the value of craft item because it increases the grain, colour and other visual & tactile quality of the wood.

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BLOG links to WOOD and WOOD FINISHING

STONE CRAFT

Post 464 –by Gautam Shah

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Stone craft consists of many distinct trades, like quarrying, handling-transporting, sizing, cutting, dressing, finishing and masonry work. The first stone craft was using the stone to make tools for working with materials. A right choice of stone quality and appropriate size-shape were important then, and continue to be so today.

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Stone is used for many different purposes.

  1. as industrial raw materials for minerals,
  2. as a constituent material in various composites,
  3. in buildings, for masonry, flooring and applique work,
  4. as an art and craft material.

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Strength of a stone is checked for following types of stresses:

Compressive stresses, tend to decrease the volume of the material, causing breaks with a shattering effect.

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Tensile stresses, produce cracks and fissures, and torsion (or twisting). Generally, fine-grained rocks are stronger than coarse grained. Rocks with interlocking between the crystals are stronger than rocks with poor interlocking. Stratified rocks have poor strength along the plane or strata. Stratified rocks as a rule have lower strength than igneous and non-stratified homogeneous rocks.

Shear stresses, which move one part of a stone with respect to another, under certain conditions, inducing a permanent change of shape. These are best avoided by appropriate angle of extraction and cut, by careful orientation during coursing a masonry.

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Torsional stresses are important for structures of stones such as piers. Heat induced stresses were once critical for structures like fire places and hearths, but optional materials have obviated that as the criteria of design.

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The general requirements for stones used in Buildings can be summarized as follows:

■ Sound, uniform rock material.

■ Presence of rifts to facilitate workability by hand tools.

■ Porosity advantageous for cementing, provided it does not decrease the resistance to weathering.

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■ Inherent chemical stability to prevent fluorescence.

■ High strength (as required in certain cases).

■ Low specific gravity (necessary for easier handling and in light weight structures).

■ High abrasion resistance (an important factor for flooring, steps).

Palazzo dei diamanti, facciata principale. Wikipedia Image by Nicolò Musmeci

Masonry walls of stones require specific methods of construction such as:

1 Heaviest and thickest of pieces should be used for lower courses.

2 Small pieces of stones should not be used on outer face.

3 Best flat face with a smallest area should form the wall face.

4 Each stone must rest on a flat surface, if required flat face should be achieved preferably by dressing of the stone, by bedding material or mortar, or by use of splinters and wedges.

5 Wedges should be placed with their wider face on the inside and narrower face on the outside.

6 All loose particles, cleavages, layers should be removed before using a stone.

7 Joints must be staggered.

Palais du Luxembourg Bossage

8 In case of very thick walls, if more than two stones form a width, several full width stone should be employed for keying.

9 For all walls especially random masonry, the corners should be made of long rectangular stones of even thickness (preferably dressed).

Opus Reticulatum Pompeii Roman stone facing pattern Wikipedia Image by Jensens

10 Stratified stone materials should be used for compressive loads to occur across the section or strata.

11 For tension bearing areas stratified and sedimentary stone material should be avoided.

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WEIGHTING or BODYING OF TEXTILES

Post 447 -Gautam Shah

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Fibres, yarns and fabrics have poor bulk, or have lost bulk during various treatments are re-bodied by many different substances. Bodying is also possible without any substantive coating. Certain heat and water treatments shrink the fabric, increasing the bulk.

Starched sized Neck Cloth

Weighting or bodying is a fabric finishing process that may be applied at fiber, yarn or fabric stage. Users oriented bodying processes mostly occur after the fabric production, at clothes stage. One of the oldest known weighting materials has been the size. Starch, gums and gelatine have been used to size fabrics for stiffness, glaze and adding weight. Wool, jute, linen and such coarse fiber fabrics do not require weighting. Fabrics of cotton and silk, in fresh state, and used (after some wear) state need bodying.

Anna Pavlova in Giselle, wearing a romantic Tutu

Classical bell tutus in The Dance Class by Edgar Degas, 1874

Traditional sizing treatments are temporary. Modern day chemicals such as modified starch, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), and acrylic co-polymers provide long-lasting effect. Sizing of the warp yarn is required to reduce breakage of the yarn during weaving.

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1890s wedding dress made from weighted silk. The splits and damage visible on the sleeve are caused by the weighting process of the fabric.

Raw silk contains from 25 to 30 % of its weight in sericin or gum. When the fiber is cleaned or fabrics are washed, this substance is removed. Silks are weighted to recoup the loss in fiber weight, and to add greater body to fabric. Silk has an affinity for several metallic salts, like iron, lead, and tin. The weight lost in the de-gumming process is refurbished by soaking the fibre or fabric in a bath of the metallic salts. For freshly woven silk fabric, it is first placed in an acid solution of stannic chloride (a chloride of tin). After the absorption of the substance, the fabric is washed, placed into a solution of sodium phosphate and washed. During this process, an insoluble compound (tin phosphate) is formed. This adds weight and body. Sometimes further treatment with sodium silicate is done. A silk can hold considerably more than its own weight, though heavy weighting reduces abrasion resistance, leading to greater wear and tear. Weavers and merchants, once added 10 times more weight, then the customary processing loss of 20 %. One simple way to check presence of chemical weighting compounds is to burn a piece of silk fabric, and it leaves behind a perceptible skeleton of metallic compound.

Laundry Starch

Cotton and other materials are sized for very temporary to permanent treatments. This may be in the form of starch, gelatin, or resin or a combination of these with lubricating substances such as oils or wax. Starches and gelatin are temporary sizes and are removed during laundering. Cheap cotton or rayon fabrics are often heavily starched for stiffness which after laundering may become quite limp. Fabrics like organdy are permanently stiffened Cottons.

Starch Weighted head scarf

Wool fabrics are not weighted, but compacted or fulled to give the fabric more compact or denser structure. Melton cloth is very heavily fulled wool fabric, with a dense -felt like texture.

Melton Wool

Silk Sizing

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ART COATINGS

Post 432 – by Gautam Shah

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Coatings are thin surface finishing techniques. A thin film is achieved by using a material that is in a liquid state or is convertible into a liquid phase. A coating may or may not have a colourant, but on drying achieves various degrees of transparencies. Coatings are applied to entities to alter the appearance, improve the tangibility and to provide a protective cover. Historically, however, coatings have been used for illustration and decorative effects.

The discovery of mixing dishes suggests that liquid pigment mixed with fat was also used and smeared with the hand. The subtle tonal gradations of colour on animals painted in the Altamira and Lascaux caves appear to have been dabbed in two stages with fur pads, natural variations on the rock surface were exploited to create the effects of volume.

Sleeping_Antelope_Tin_Taghirt

The simplest way of marking cave walls was to make finger-traces in the soft layer of clay covering the rock. Lime stone walls were engraved and filled in with iron oxide (hematite, or ochre), or the black pigment as manganese or charcoal. These materials were usually available locally. Analyses of pigments, reveal the use of extenders such as talc or feldspar, to increase the bulk of pigments. It also shows traces of animal and plant oils, used for binding. The pigment in paste form was applied with fingers, and also tools like animal-hair brushes or crushed twigs. Lumps of pigment discovered on cave floors may have been used as crayons, but since they do not mark the rock well, they were more likely to be sources of powder. Colour was often sprayed, from the mouth or through a tube. A network of ladder, supports and scaffolding was used to reach the ceilings and upper portions of walls. Light was provided by hearths, or portable burning torches.

Abric_on_es_troben_les_pintures_d'art_llevantí_al_pla_de_Petracos

Primitive coatings were daubing of clays, minerals, charcoal, lamp blacks often mixed with mediums such as water, tallow, vegetable excretion and juices, urine, blood, bitumen. Binding mediums were employed to fix the mineral or colourant particles on the surface. Some of the binding mediums were evaporative and worked only as a `leveller’ for particulate matter. By 6000 BC, in China, calcined (fired) mixtures of inorganic compounds and organic pigments and binding mediums (vehicles) were prepared from gum arabic, egg white, gelatin, and beeswax.

Some oily mediums though superior in fixing and longer lasting, but collected dust on aging. Oil mediums became darker in colour due to oxidation, or just peeled off. Some of the mediums were destroyed due to fungus and algae. Later little more complex substances such as starches of rice and maize, pine wood extracts, egg albumin, bees wax, hydrated limes, gypsum, etc. were used.

PREHISTORIC ART FORMS

There are basic TWO sets of Arts. Fixed arts are built-forms, wall murals and architectural embellishments. These could have been part of either exterior and interior environments. Portable arts, comprise of objects or artefacts. These usually remained in protected environments. Fixed arts were largely painted and scratched or engraved, but portable arts had, at least in initial periods, natural finishes by way of selection and production processes.

Venus_vom_Hohlen_Fels_Original_frontal

Portable arts consist of wide variety of object forms and material combinations. Compared to the fixed Arts the objects are smaller in size. The portable objects show all, the surface treatments, embellishments and coating applications. The objects of this category show greater integration of all the three interventions and greater detail or involvement. Large number and wide variety of objects have been preserved and recovered even from regions where Fixed Arts entities have not survived. Portable arts’ objects are smaller and personal hobby or a family craft creation. The colour and surface quality were matter of choice or discoveries through innovation in production.

Paulnabrone

Fixed Arts entities that have survived are surface treatments or renderings through show painting, scratching, engraving and daubing methods. On the other hand, the surviving built-forms, if considered as art-forms, represent technological milestones of material handling, supporting and construction planning. Fixed arts were large scale or important societal activities, involving entire community by way of voluntary participation or forced labour. The involvement of the community was for seasonal or occasional rituals. The leader, conductor or priest of the ritual and the team were the select few experts who initiated and updated the (art) entities over and over again. Such art-forms indicate occupation or interventions of several generations, as much as for more than 300 years.

Bradshaw rock paintings

Portable Art objects are incidental that is the availability, shape, size, colours, texture, etc. define the range of treatments. Many times the purpose it will serve evolves during the process of treatments. Such objects show material combinations. many different finishes were achieved, by change of forms and exploiting the tools. Material processes like heating, singeing, sintering, baking, beating, shaping, cutting, chopping, grinding, drilling, etc., were also used in farming and cooking. It was one seamless manner of learning.

Venus_of_Brassempouy

The materials were stones, precious stones, metal nodules, mineral and other colourants, woods, grasses, twigs, hides, leathers, skins, furs, hairs, shells, teeth, horns, bones, ivory, raw clay objects, baked clay ceramics, seeds, fruits, etc.

The objects formed were totems, body adornments, tools, implements, ritual and burial objects, cooking utilities, toys for children, amenities and dwelling embellishments.

Collier_de_Penne

These were exchanged, gifted to others or offered in rituals. The objects began to have consistent expressions. The varied metaphors, passing from one generation to other, ultimately became abstract. Coins, plaques, seals, etc. represent multiple conversions of expressions like a language.

Ggantija_Temples,_Xaghra,_Gozo

Fixed Art objects like built-forms, though functional utilities were built for community and for political purposes.

The public use entities were irrigation facilities, forest clearance, dykes, bridges, walks or passages, drinking water resources, community surround structures, security amenities and storage arrangements. These were not ‘decorative arts’ but symbolized technological innovations. Some like burial stones and dolmen had items of personalization.

Cave_Paintings_Bhembetika_(22)e

Fixed Arts objects like wall arts show skills of surface preparation, rendering or painting and surface finishing. These creations also show art of surface preparation by way of grinding, etching, daubing, engraving and colourant application. Wall-arts exist in odd narrow corners, at very high elevations, tall ceilings, day time dark corners and in nearly inaccessible places. The effort must have required support structures, bridges, scaffolds, illumination and ancillary works to protect the creations from moisture.

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MUD ARCHITECTURE

Post 426 – by Gautam Shah 

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9 Koyama_3

Architecture and structures of mud or clay, for every conceivable purpose, exist in all parts of the world. In hilly regions of the world clay sediments have been used for packing the joint and as a masonry course leveller. Mud or clay is used because of the abundant supply, near zero cost of procurement, wet plasticity, mould-ability, insulating qualities, high thermal capacity, non toxicity, ecological friendly nature and simplicity of application. Mud as a forming material for architecture, structures or ceramics have some drawbacks like, shrinkages on drying, i.e., cracking, poor weathering qualities, lack of homogeneity in dry state, high water permeability -hygroscopic, poor bonding to a substrate -peel off, vulnerability to white ants and insects.

Mud_houses_are_commonly_found_in_various_regions_of_Afghanistan.

Mud has seen renewed interest during the last Six to Seven decades. First interest in architecture was for its abundance and simplistic technology. Later, the material was favoured for its insulative qualities. During the last 4o years the mud buildings are being favoured for their Eco-friendliness, chiefly the recycle-ability aspect of it. The ideology of sustainability, with its varied interpretations, has supported experimentation for different uses.

2 Wattle_and_daub_construction

8 Berber village Near Ait Benhaddou 5600152155_532c99cc67_z

Some basic techniques of Mud construction are identified. These are: Sod, Rammed earth, Cob (cobb or clom), Adobe, Wattle and daub Compressed earth block methods. These techniques differ in details, from region to region, type of soils, natural moisture content and availability of additional water, additives, reinforcements and support form-work within reach. The mix design and forming techniques also depend on building elements (wall, slab, etc.), architectural elements and surface finish or applique decorations.

11 st_stephens_church_at_acoma_pueblo1

Mud architecture presents fascinating forms. The quality of space formation, the suitability for range of basic architectonic elements, adaptability to different usages, and the universal availability, make mud a very coveted material. The love affair is very poignant during the academic period of designers. The passion, however, gets muted over the years, for variety of reasons, such as lack of the clientele, the place, scope and sponsorship for experimentation and the irrelevance of the technology at locations where the educated designer will operate. There are many other reasons for a failed take off for ‘low technology and eco-friendly’ endeavours. Mud, is reckoned to be a sustainable material, of very relevant (‘green’) technology, non toxic, universally available and completely recyclable material.

2286030751_93f369a045_z(1)

1 House_in_Toteil_002

These concepts remain valid so far as one can use the mud architecture concurrently with matching ‘lifestyle’ if one is conducting. A personal habitat of mud and to maintain (sustain) it for a long period, are two different things. A mud building is a very fragile entity and needs day to day care. Such concerns cannot be assigned to any outsider or agency. The cost of daily upkeep can turn out to be very high. And even if one can afford the cost, (which could be equal to the cost of a new structure), takes lots of time, practically a full time vocation.

7 Siwa mud Homes2009

Mud built-form cannot be conceived as a drawn plan or scheme. A person who constructs it must improvise it on own. The execution of such form cannot happen quickly, and during the period whatever that has been constructed will need updating and improvisation. Some of the key elements of built form, material behaviour, form and space organization exist in the society that has been using mud for generations. These innate capacities can be reinforced by being not only an active participant on the site, but by being an inhabitant of the entity. Only an inhabitant of the mud architecture can sustain it.

4 Mud_plaster_over_straw_bales_wallDesigners cannot, and must not meddle in mud architecture design or execution. A design student may be asked to design one and perhaps execute it, as a learning exercise. The fashionable word coined by teachers who never practice, or have never done, is “hand on experience” in material-form-and the technological implications.

3 Annual_repair_of_the_world's_largest_mud_brick_building_the_Great_Mosque_of_Djenné_in_Mali._(32088227574)

 

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DRAPERIES

Post 424 – by Gautam Shah

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Room_at_Nikoi_Island

A drape is a way of hanging or placing an unstitched piece of fabric. The word drape derives from Proto-Germanic drapiz and drepiz (=a strike, hit, blow), (=intended for striking, to be beaten), it also relates to English drub (=to beat) and Swedish dräpa (=to slay). In ancient periods a drape-able fabric was heavily (beaten) washed, and so soft and pliable. A heavily washed fabric is dull or of unbleached natural colour. At places a dull cloth is described to be greyish to yellowish or light olive brown in colour. The loss of crispiness perhaps indicates use of Linen, which became soft after several washes.

The word drapery is of 14th C origin, but drape or equivalent usages must be very ancient. Unstitched pieces of fabrics were used for covering own self by ordinary people as well as priests and rulers. The draped fabric, if soft, hangs loosely. The fabric, if stiff or of heavier weave remains fluffy, and does not ‘fall’ gracefully. The fabric worn as dress usually has vertical folds, which change with body movements. On a performance stage, it creates an impression of ‘larger than life movement’, perceptible to the spectators in the last tier of the Amphi theatre.

Theatre_actors,_Yuan_Dynasty

A_group_of_Lepchas_in_Darjeeling_(c._1880)

india-978488_640

Drapery refers to composition of fabric used for decorative purposes, around internal or external gaps or openings. It also means any arrangement of fabric used as clothing, backdrop, accompaniment or adornment for a work of art in the form of painting or sculpture. Each artist and each era shows unique techniques of rendering the drapery curves and form. The quality of fabric material never shown as actual, it only enhanced the form of drapery. The colour of the drapery as shown was the artists’ pallet requirement and may not be realistic. The transparency of fabric and body revelations were according to the artists daring and perhaps client’s dictates.

Gandharv Buddha 1-2nd C BC

Sarcophagus of the brothers 250 AD > Wikipedia Image > Farnese collection

Leonardo studies for draping

In interior Design all types of fabrics are used for draping the furniture, openings, gaps, parapets, railings, columns, brackets, steps and stairs. These are covered with many different grades of fabrics ranging from sheer silk, flimsy organza, sateen, damask, linen, velvet, starched cotton, and later rayon and polyesters. Drapery colour and pattern schemes were coordinated with wall papers, curtains, carpets and other tapestries. Fabrics have been hung with formation of gathers or unstitched pleats, of vertical, dropped or sagged curves and twisted horizontals. Tapestry like one-sided fabrics are also draped over architectural elements of buildings.

Portrait of Mrs Abington British Actress 1737-1815 ART by Joshua Reynolds

Draperies were inevitable part of beds and bedrooms. Bed was the most important chamber for the lady of the house, almost like a female drawing room. Beds were separated by draperies from the room space, and beds structures were covered with drapes. Back side of the bed had hung piece of tapestry fabric or some form of drape composition. Paintings and portraits were edged with draperies.

Reconstructed Royal Bed at Warsaw Castle Wikipedia Image by Giorgiomonteforti

Draped fabrics were great collectors of dust and soot. The shaped drapes if too articulated, fluffy and against the gravity, have a tendency to collapse. The drapes are generally static arrangement, but during the early part of 19th C began to be replaced by simpler curtains. The curtain required pelmets or open hanging rods, both of which began to be covered with scallops. Scallops are articulated drapes, with ropes and tassels. Word Draper is used to denote an expert tailor or an establishment that stocks various types of fabrics and paraphernalia items.

Scallops over curtain

In art forms draperies have been treated both casually and formally, with neatly delineated lines or free-flowing curves. This has depended on the person to be presented like, an angel, Lord, saints, or commoners. Hellenistic period art draping was white or light coloured translucent body touching, but form emphasizing fabric. Gothic period showed the restrained flow of lines. Post renaissances, the drapery presentation was theatrical. Drapery presentation in painting was such an important issue that it was first discussed with the sponsors. Specialist painters were hired to touch-up the drapery work.

576px-Melody_In_Marble,_Veiled_Rebecca_at_Salar_jung_Museum,_Hyderabad,_India

ART by Frans Hals 1625

Unstitched Appearals

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