For history of a public fountains visit our gallery

Fountain Conservation

Stone

One of the biggest challenges with stone sculptures or fountains in this climate is freezing and thawing. Stone can be very porous, allowing water to penetrate into the the sculpture. When temperatures drop quickly, the water in these pores freezes and expands, causing the stone to crack and pieces to break off. Even gradual erosion of the stone surfaces, caused by constant water flowing over them can open the pores and roughen the surfaces, allowing more water to penetrate into the interior. Most of Kansas City fountains are turned off and the water drained for winter. But rain and melting snow and ice which re-freeze will damage the porous materials. Of course, if a fountain is left running in the winter, it can make ice formations, sometimes adding weight to bowls or armatures that may not be able to support it.

In the past, our stone sculptures were covered in the winter, and many property owners still do this today. This will help keep the water from penetrating the sculpture and causing damage, but it also hides the beauty of the artwork for much of the year, unless the cover itself is another piece of artwork! If you have the option of frequent maintenance, attention can be paid to keep water out of uncovered basins and bowls in the winter.

When pieces are broken, either by wear, weather or vandalism, they can usually be repaired. Qualified stone conservators are able to repair and sometimes replace parts and pieces and restore a damaged stone sculpture or fountain to an amazing degree. If a large piece of stone is missing, a new piece may be cut to fit the gap and attached. Restoration mortars and patching materials are made to match a variety of stones and can fill smaller gaps and cracks or be built up to recreate details. Even though, on close inspection, repairs can usually be detected, the form and function of the original piece can be restored and enjoyed once again.