Friday, April 30, 2010

The Care of Church Marble, Alabaster, Stone, and Brick

This is another post in the series labeled "The Diligent Sacristan".

In their 1951 book, Good Housekeeping in Church, McClinton and Squier give this advice on the cleaning of church marble, alabaster, stone, and brick:
"Marble steps, plaques, statues, or crosses may be cleaned by washing with hot water and a cleaning powder. A brush may be used on carved marble. Marble that has become stained may be cleaned with powdered pumice and water or a paste of whiting and turpentine or carbon tetrachloride. This will also take off soot and smoke stains. The surface of the marble can then be polished with water and putty powder which is easily obtained from a monument dealer.

"Alabaster statues, plaques, or crosses may be cleaned with borax and warm, soapy water. Stains may be removed by a solution of weak oxalic acid or turpentine and pumice. Allow either mixture to stay on a few minutes then wash with clear water and soap[,] and polish with a coat of beeswax and turpentine.

"Stonework such as floors or steps, or a stone cross or baptismal font, or even the reredos of stone, is best cleaned with high pressure steam every few years but may be kept clean by scrubbing with hot water, a mild soap, and a scrubbing brush. If there are stains, use a bleach, but never so strong as to leave an odor. If the stonework becomes very dark, it may be rubbed with a brick and water.

"Brickwork such as floors or walls may be cleaned with water, scrubbing powder, and a stiff brush or steel wool. This will also remove soot and smoke discoloration."
McClinton, Katherine Morrison, and Squire, Isabel Wright; Good Housekeeping in Church (Morehouse-Gorham Co., New York, 1951), pp. 49-50.

Marble baptismal font with figures of alabaster at the Church of St. Cosmae, from Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

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