Of all the ancient crafts still practiced today, Stonemasonry is certainly one of the most ancient. Examples of stonemasonry can be identified almost as far as back as evidence of civilisation can be found all across the world.History is littered with near endless examples of astonishing stonework and it should come as no surprise that highly skilled individuals still practice the craft. Stonemasonry has evolved as new, more modern tools have become available and the focus of the industry has shifted from outright construction to more finely detailed work. This is not to say that there is not a market for larger scale building projects, but as time as gone on stonemasonry developed a range of smaller and more intricate applications.
With the focus of modern construction being focused on timber and metal structures, stonemasonry is less vital to the development of towns and cities. Smaller scale uses are on the rise, with people desiring luxury stone features for their homes such as fireplaces, bars, pools and feature walls. There are even smaller applications such as water features, fire pits and garden ornaments that can be crafted from solid stone
The other craft that many stonemasons practice is the restoration of old and damaged stonework. Amongst the most susceptible stone is limestone, as it will naturally erode over time when exposed to rain and other weather factors. Historically speaking, limestone was commonly used as mortar to join bricks, but people were not aware of how easily it erodes and no alternatives were practically available. This has resulted in an abundance of historical buildings that are slowly being washed away by the weather. The limestone brickwork and mortar in these buildings requires careful treatment if they are to be saved. The temptation to fill any eroded mortar with modern cement is one of the worst things that can be done to limestone as it is actually hastens the erosion of the remaining mortar and possible surrounding brickwork.
The best option
Modern technology has improved traditional limestone mortar, and this is the best option to repair any existing damage without causing further issues. Unfortunately, these are mostly manufactured in Europe, given the greater concentration of historic limestone buildings. However, there are a few expert stonemasons in Australia that import these specialised products. Limestone buildings need protecting, and limestone restoration done properly is a thing of beauty, but getting it wrong will lead to far more problems in years to come. Don’t be part of the problem for future generations, ensure that limestone buildings are cared for and restored properly so that they can be enjoyed for many years to come. If the correct care isn’t taken now, these wonderful pieces of history will gradually erode away and be lost forever.