How I Spent My Covid Vacation

My "Covid Vacation" began with parquetry floor repairs at the Eisenhower Building and an historic auditorium refinishing. Once these projects put me back in touch with my roots in antique furniture and musical instrument restoration, multiple opportunities for antique furniture repair materialized. The thread between these is the need to consider more than just aesthetics. In order for historic gems to last, sometimes we need to augment to strengthen original design flaws or mistakes made by other restorers. Longevity of the artwork and maintainability of finishes is equally crucial.

History in Color: Maryland State House Dome Lessons

The Maryland State House as it would have appeared from State Circle during the War of 1812. Image of Malcolm Dax

The original 1792 Maryland State House dome retains its original paint beneath 17 later coats. What is now a demure gray and white dome was once brilliantly golden -- just as it was recorded by Charles Willson Peale when he drew the color scheme while overseeing the installation of Benjamin Franklin's first lightning rod on a public building -- an element that also remains to this day on the building where the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War was signed with the British while Annapolis was the nation's capitol.

20th Century Concrete Telling the Story of Construction Evolution with Elegant Ways to Repair, Color Masonry

As this 1917 military structure was re-purposed into offices, the wood graining of the formwork for the concrete pours was repaired with grout and faux bois graining tools and the surfaces were casein painted in a tone that matched the reaction of high pH lime from the original concrete pour attacking the oil from the formwork and the tannins in the wood, creating a visibly soft and inviting interior to a concrete and glass structure.

How soon can fresh plaster be painted?

The type of paint to be used affects the time until painting after installing lime mortar. Switching to an historic paint like casein can get you painting right away despite the high pH of freshly-installed lime mortar