Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gamone enhancements

Yesterday afternoon, the tradesman who's restoring the façade of my house reappeared with sand-blasting equipment: basically a big diesel compressor unit and a steel bin, with an output tube and nozzle, housing the special fine-grained sand used for cleaning façades. Next Monday, Gamone will be submerged for another day in an artificial sandstorm, but the job should be completed by the end of day. Then it'll be a matter of getting rid of the sand and dust in which the house is presently submerged.

I'm already exploring a few enhancements that might be applied to the newly-restored façade. First, I intend to install a so-called marquise over the main door of my house, which leads into the kitchen. This term means literally the wife of a marquis. I have no idea why it has come to designate an old-fashioned awning made of forged iron and glass, fixed to the façade above a door, to protect people from the rain while they're waiting for the door to open. I was amazed to discover a manufacturer of marquises in a nearby village. It's not as if the possibility of getting wet while waiting for the door to open is a major problem. The real reason why I wish to install such an object is that, when the scaffolding is removed on Monday, the façade of Gamone will appear as a vast rectangular wall, punctuated by various openings. The role of the marquise will be to put the accent upon one of these openings: the door into the kitchen. The door opening in question can be seen in the middle of the following photo, with the wooden gate, behind the back of Hippolyte Gerin [1884-1957]:

In this photo, the door opening on the right leads into a room that now houses my washing machine and deep freezer. On the left, to the rear of the two ladies, the two openings separated by a brick column lead into my living room. Here's a better photo, showing Hippolyte standing behind two youths and a dog:

You can see a pair of wooden shutters on the kitchen window. I still have these shutters, stored away while the façade is being restored, but I'm not likely to put them back in place. The truth of the matter is that openings in the restored façade reveal a subtle aesthetic blend of stone and brick, which must be left as such, naked, rather than concealed behind shutters of any kind.

As you can see in the above photo, the openings into my living room are surmounted by an ugly steel beam. During the restoration in 1994, a similar beam was installed above the opening into the room with the washing machine and deep freezer [see the first photo]. Consequently, one of my first tasks, now that the façade is restored, will consist of hiding these two steel girders. In fact, I'm going to ask the guy who manufactures the marquises to weld a line of thick steel bolts to each girder, which will enable me to cover them with oak slabs. The nuts fixing the slabs against the girders will be concealed in the mass of the wood, and covered with mastic. With a little bit of effort, the future Gamone façade should look much neater than back in Hippolyte's time.

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