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Fourth Part.

Section Fifth.




147. While part of the workmen are employed in laying down the first, second, third, and fourth coatings, another workman sorts the different colors of Marble suitable to the design. Fragments of old, broken Marbles, which are no longer of use, will serve for this purpose. Indeed they are those best suited to this kind of work, since one side of them is polished. In respect to those used for the mortar, their form in indifferent, since they are only used after having been crushed.

The different sorts of Marbles are broken with a mallet into small pieces, the largest of which should not exceed two and a half or three inches in length and as many in width, and with no regularity of form; these are then thrown in heaps according to their colors.

These heaps are next passed through a large iron sieve, in order to separate the large and small pieces, thus forming two distinct portions.

When all the outlines of the design have been traced on the floor, and the color of each of them has been decided, the workmen commence by making framings of small pieces of Marble of a suitable color, which they fit in the mass with as much regularity as possible, taking care always to place their largest side on the line of the design, and the irregular sides within the framing.

When these little pieces are properly placed, the workman presses them down with his thumb, continuing through the lines in this manner before proceeding to the inside of the framing, which does not demand the same regularity.


148. For this process, the workman fills his apron pockets with pieces of the different colored Marbles needed in the design; he then kneels, and, following the outline of the design, presses the small pieces of Marble with his thumb exactly side by side, in the partially softened mass which forms the fourth coating.

The framing of the design being formed with these pieces, which should be nearly as possible of the same size, he proceeds to the inlaying of the centre ground, commonly called the mirror.

When the mirror contains no design, he simply takes pieces of Marble of what should be the prevailing color; or, what is better, he uses Marbles of different colors, which produces a beautiful effect.


149. The pieces of the kind and color of Marbles which should prevail in the mirror should be larger than the others, and also as flat as possible; the workman spreads them over the floor, leaving them to be arranged by chance, only taking care that they should not be too close together.

The mirror being covered, all those pieces should be laid flat which, in falling, took some other position, or turned their polished side downwards. To place them in this manner the workmen use several planks, upon which they kneel and thus advance, working directly before them.

These large fragments, flatly placed at a proper distance from each other, give the prevailing color to the mirror. After this, all the spaces between the large fragments are filled up with smaller pieces of different colored Marbles; such as white, red, yellow, black, reddish, greenish, etc., thus forming a mixture of colors beautifully shaded.

To ascertain whether the colors produce a good effect, the part which is finished is sprinkled with a broom dipped in water; this draws forth all the brilliancy of the color.

The floor being paved in the manner described, the pressure by the stone cylinder next succeeds.


150. Before using this cylinder, the whole floor should be well sprinkled with water, so that not only the white coating may be softened, but also the red mortar which is beneath it. This being done, the cylinder should be carefully placed, so as not to disarrange the small pieces of Marble, and first rolled over the edge of the mirror nearest the door. The work should always commence at this point, in order to avoid the effacing of the drawing in going in and out.

The cylinder rolls forward and backward, and the place over which it passes should be well sprinkled frequently with water.

The corners of the casements, and all places which cannot be reached with the cylinder, should be pressed with the beetle, and beaten down with the iron rammer.

When the cylinder has been rolled long enough to force the small pieces of Marble deeply into the red coating, so that it can be perceived that the white mass begins to form a kind of coat, and that the whole is sufficiently incrusted, it is again pressed down with the beetle, and smoothed over with the iron rammer.


151. The coating of Marble having been well rolled by the cylinder, pressed down and beaten, and sunk to the red mass, leaving only the coat of white mortar visible upon the surface; the workmen commence polishing in every direction with the small polisher.

For the recesses of the windows and all other places in which the small polisher cannot be used, the workman uses a piece of hone or coticular stone large enough to be grasped with both hands, with which he polishes all the corners of the apartment, also filling up all interstices which may have formed.

In proportion as the surface is polished, a workman supplied with a trowel, a hod filled with white Marble mortar, and various small pieces of marbles, fills up the empty spaces, and sinks new pieces where they are wanting; he then sprinkles the place, and passes the polisher over it. The Marble mortar which is forced out by the sprinkling and polishing, is in a liquid state; this the workman removes with a steel trowel, forcibly scraping the part until nothing more remains on the surface.


152. When the mirror is entirely inlaid with large pieces of Marble, some of which are found to rise above the others, or to be detached from them, they are forced down again with a quadrangular wooden prism. This prism is placed upon the piece of Marble, and the opposite side lightly struck, to sink it.

This coating of natural Marble being smoothed down with the small polisher, leveled and worked with the steel trowel, and a slight degree of polish attained, the large polisher or large grindstone is then used.


153. The large polisher consists of a grindstone of twenty inches in diameter, with a part of its cylindrical form removed; it then rests on a flat surface of about two inches, with which the instrument rests upon the pavement; this gives it more effect when set in motion.

This grindstone, being very heavy, should be worked by two men, one holding the polisher very near the head, and the other the middle of the handle.

During this operation the pavement is carefully sprinkled, and the empty spaces which may have formed are filled up with the Marble mortar.

When a very large polisher is used, two men will not be sufficient to work it; a rope is then attached to the front of the grindstone, with which the third workman draws it towards him, while the other two shove it from their side.

When the pavement is sufficiently smoothed by the action of the large polisher, (for the polish is not yet begin,) the work is again commenced in divisions not exceeding twelve superficial feet. Each of these must be worked in every direction for an hour and a half, after which a workman kneeling, with a piece of hone or coticular stone, placed flatly, passes over the part which has just been worked, rubbing it with a circular movement.

The operation of polishing draws out upon the surface of the pavement a liquid matter, arising from the sprinkling and the diluted mortars. When the workman has rubbed sufficiently with the hone, he removes this liquid with the blade of the steel trowel, passing it circularly until the Marble appears to be already half-polished.


154. The preceding work being finished, a workman takes an iron rammer, with which he gently beats the surface, in order that the pieces of Marbles may be forced still deeper into the white and red masses, which are softened by the frequent sprinkling, and unite themselves with the entire mass.

In this operation, as in the preceding one, if any of the small stones have become deranged by the rubbing of pressing down, they should be replaced with the Marble mortar, and forced down with the wooden prism.

The Marble coating of the mirror having been well polished the first time, as has been said before, the same is repeated, using the small polisher for polishing the borders made of the small stones; these are more easily worked than the middle, which requires the use of the large polisher, and more time.

After a second working, a piece of hone is again used for removing the liquid mass drawn out by the polishing, and the surface is scraped with the round trowel. As this mass has become very thin by frequent sprinklings and is no longer of use, it is removed in a bucket, and the pavement is finally beaten with the iron rammer.


155. When the pavement is somewhat dry, it is polished again, as in the first and second polishing, and the whole is worked anew with the large grindstone.


156. The same process is repeated for the fourth time, already observing to polish the corners and borders with the small, and the mirror with the large polisher. Not as much time, however, is required for this. The half of that demanded by the previous operations will be sufficient.

This work being finished, the whole pavement is rubbed with wheat bran on a cushion of wool. When this has been sufficiently rubbed, it is swept with a horse hair brush, after which the borders are marked with a black crayon, in order that they may not be passed in applying the color.


157. The red is simply diluted with water and then applied to the coating of red Marble.

The yellow and green are prepared in the following manner:

Bruise a quantity of juniper berries, and boil them in a few pints of water, then pour off the water from the residuum; this water is used in grinding the green or yellow, which is mixed well with the white mass of the Marble.

The colors thus prepared are laid on the green and yellow borders with a large brush, serving only to color those parts of the mortar visible between the seems of the pieces of Marble forming the last coating; this gives to these mortars the color of the Marbles which are encrusted with them.

In a few days, the colors being well dried, the whole apartment is again cleansed with the bran and a woolen cushion. This final operation produces an apartment wholly paved with perfectly polished Marble, and resembling a most beautiful mosaic.


158. The entire mass having acquired a perfect dryness and solidity, which takes place in three months, another mortar of fine white Marble is prepared, with which the whole pavement is again covered. This mortar should not be too thick. It is spread with a steel trowel, and the cavities are filled up which have formed during the drying of the pavement. The superfluous mortar is then removed, and, after the whole is well dried, linseed oil is passed over the whole by means of woolen cushions, which produces a fine gloss, and increases the perfection of the work; this operation should be repeated every year.

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