Peg's Little Italy
We all have fond memories of special places we have visited and trips we have taken. For Peg, the memories from multiple trips to Italy stand out. She was especially impressed by the people and the landscapes. Her trips to the Italian countryside included visits to old masonry buildings that have withstood the test of time for hundreds of years. These travels and memories made such an impression on this local artist that she decided to put these ideas to work.
In an effort to bring a bit of the Italian countryside home, Peg and her husband purchased some land in Palatka that spoke to them. The rural northeast Florida get-a-way is 5.8 acres of woods and fallow crop fields that they had designated a wildlife habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. Logistics however…. How does anyone achieve “the look” without the Italian mason, the materials, and 500 or so years? When describing the textured buildings to her brother ( a hardware/lumber man) he immediately said “split face block”. Due to the remote location of the property, block would be sturdy and resist theft. Because it is near wetlands, moisture, bugs, and rot would not be a concern. Block would also be cost effective in regards to the finished appearance. No 3 or 4 step process to conjure and demonstrate to a stucco contractor; just a tweaking of the mortar as it squished out from between the block.
Having experience with art, design, and faux finishes, Peg knew that she needed multiple colors. She worked directly with the manufacturer to obtain handpicked over-runs in colors that coordinated with her vision. The use of over-runs helped immensely with budget limits as well as color variations so important for the finished effect. Ideas quickly formulated in her head for a collection of small buildings on the property that would work within their immediate budget and could be re-purposed in the future when they construct the main house.
Fast forward to construction day. You can imagine the surprise when pallets of mixed colored block arrived. Peg knew that a mud smearing technique would produce a layered and aged characteristic, but in reality would the block masons be able to do it? “You want what” asked the masons as she explained the smearing technique. He glanced at her as if she had a third eye and struggled in an attempt with his trowel. The only way to achieve the texture envisioned is with ones hands. Peg’s hands to be exact! She jumped in and worked behind the masons to “hand smear” the mortar with garden gloves. The garden gloves wore out quickly, and her husband soon came to the rescue with yellow Playtex gloves. Patience persevered as the masons allowed her to encroach on their personal space while the mortar was still wet to smear.
Although the masons did not understand the concept in the beginning, they were able to appreciate the end result when they saw the completed project. These buildings immediately became part of the property and looked as if they had been there for hundreds of years. Masonry products were chosen because nothing else fit the bill; design flexibility, bug resistance, and the feeling of safety when leaving the property for long periods of time.
They will continue to build on the property with the main house beginning in the next few years. Masonry products are the building materials of choice. The love affair continues!
End of 2017 Projects. Please complete your judging spreadsheet and return to Deb Bartolucci