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Petrillo stone carving project

Choosing Between Cast Stone and Natural Stone

Petrillo stone carving projectStonemasonry has evolved since its early beginnings. Even as far back as thousands of years ago, natural stone from quarries was used to build the first homes, churches, and theatres. Today, adding stonework to your home, church, or business is easy and you have many options. Some use stone for their fireplaces, others spruce up their landscape or add a custom path to their front door. As a business or church, you may want to use stone to add beauty and intricate design to your building.

Cast Stone

Modern techniques have made adding stonework to any area much easier. One of the best ways to add stonework that is also great on a budget is by using cast stone. Cast stone is a highly refined building material usually formed by mixing natural elements like quartz, granite, limestone, or marble. Cast stone mix is then pushed through molds to give it a look that resembles the density and texture of natural stone. While this can look authentic, it cuts the cost of paying for the real thing while still adding the value that stonework offers.

Natural Stone

Just like our ancient ancestors, we too can use natural stone to enhance the beauty around us. The historical look of natural stone can give you a unique look that will draw the attention of anyone who happens by. Natural stone can be quartz, marble, limestone, granite, basalt, onyx, and more. By using quarries, natural stones are brought forth from the earth and used for building a variety of things. Because cast stone is created using molds, the amount of detail within the stonework can be minimal. With natural stone, a sculptor can get as detailed or as intricate as possible (think of Greek and Roman marble statues or ancient cathedrals). This level of detail is unparalleled – but you have to pay for it.

How to Choose a Stone for Your Project

natural stoneDeciding which stone to use for your project can be difficult, but there are some things to consider. While cast stone is often an easier choice and more cost-effective, cast stone has its limitations. Because cast stone is created by mixing stone elements together and pushed through a mold, it can be difficult to add intricate detail through carving. For buildings that need to go up fast, or for walkways or additions to your home that you want to be done quickly, cast stone is a perfect choice.

Natural stone, although more expensive, can provide you with more detail by allowing a professional sculptor to customize it for your needs. If you think back to Roman theatres or Greek marble statues, the level of detail can be incredible, and that is what you can expect from natural stone.

Work With Us

At Petrillo Stone, we love working with all types of stone to help people get their desired results. We love historic cathedrals and monuments that showcase the beauty of natural stone, but we also appreciate the types of buildings that can be erected with the use of cast stone. For more information or for help deciding which stone to use, please contact us today.

hand carved tracery window

Hand-Carving a Tracery Window at Fort Washington Collegiate Church in Manhattan

Our work takes us to the most beautiful and serene locations – both in and near New York City. This time, we were at the Fort Washington Collegiate Church in Harlem. Founded in 1907,  it is part of the oldest continuous Protestant congregations in North America. With the incredible history of the building, it was only fitting to hand-carve a tracery window out of Indiana Limestone.

It’s All in the Details

Every aspect of our work focuses on the intricate details of the existing stonework and the purpose of each building. For the Marble Collegiate Church, the details were derived from the late Gothic period of architecture.

Tracery Windows

Beautiful detail in many old churches, tracery windows are divided into individual glass sections supported by stone bars or molding. This glass can then be stained, frosted, or left clear. In most churches, this style of architecture provides an unmatched serenity for patrons of the faith.

Indiana Limestone

A tracery window can be supported by the use of different types of stonework or ribs of molding, but a popular option for many buildings – including colleges and churches – is Indiana Limestone. Known for its durability and strength, Indiana Limestone adds a hint of elegance when combined with historical architecture.

Because this project was hand-carved by our stonemasons at our facility in Mount Vernon, New York, it took several weeks to produce the finished product. It took us just a few days to install, and now it is posed to impress generations to come.

Take a look at our pictures below.

ancient city of stone

3 Things You Need to Know About Stonemasonry

More than 70% of the world’s architecture is built using stone. The craft of stonemasonry is hard to miss. As we commute to and from work or school pick-up lines, we can easily miss out on the beauty of this stonework that is all around us. A foundation for many cities, stonemasonry is something to appreciate. Below are some facts about stonemasonry that you may not have known, but will hopefully give you a new appreciation of the art.

It’s a Tale As Old As Time ancient stonework

From the building of the Pyramids of Giza to the elaborate stone streets and structures of ancient Jerusalem, stonemasonry has been a ‘cornerstone’ and the foundation for most civilizations around the world. In fact, as far back as 8,000 years ago, Native Americans were using stonework for weapons, pottery, and cooking slabs. A commodity even 6,000 years ago, humans would sunbake clay bricks and construct the earliest monuments and structures in history. The art became perfected over the course of thousands of years, but even these early stonemasons were so skilled that many of their builds are still identifiable today. 

What’s older still are the quarries from which some stones are taken. For example, the ancient city of Aswan, Egypt, is estimated to be about 50,000 years old and is the location of the same quarry from which over 2 million blocks of stone were pulled to craft the Pyramids of Giza.

It Can Withstand Fire 

Excavation has been ongoing in many parts of the Middle East, South America, and Europe as ancient civilizations continue to be uncovered. A common theme is that many of the old cities and structures being excavated are the work of stonemasons. While much history has been lost to the elements of nature, stonemasonry has withstood the elements. Stone, unlike many alternative building materials, does not melt, twist or warp in high heat or fire.

As a result, scientists have uncovered massive monuments, churches, houses, and buildings that extremely skilled stonemasons constructed. Some of the most wonderous have been found in places like Jerusalem, Egypt, and Pompeii. Even covered in the desert sand and volcanic dust, the beauty remains.

It Has Contributed to the Advancement of Societies

Cities built with stone, foundations laid by skilled stonemasons, and the perfected art of stonemasonry are some of the reasons why societies advanced as much as they did. History shows us that societies with bigger stone cities, monuments, churches, or structures were often the home of many patriarchs and royalty. Today, with its use in cathedrals and universities, stonemasonry is also a sign of an educated and thriving society.

Our team at Petrillo Stone has been a part of the history of stonemasonry since 1907. Our roots in this field are deep and our passion for the art is immeasurable. Not only do we firmly believe that stonemasonry will continue to stand the test of time, but we have seen firsthand the beauty created when incorporating stonemasonry into any structure. We would be honored if you took a look at our latest stonework projects. Also, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to add stonework to your business or home.

Acropolis Stonework in Greece

Stonework From Around the World

This month, we decided to combine our love of history with our passion for beautiful stonework. The result was a collection of some of the most awe-inspiring stonework from around the world. Some are well-known, and some are more obscure, but we hope to showcase just how incredible and long-lasting quality stonework can be. Enjoy!

Ancient Greek and Roman Stonework

Acropolis Stonework in Greece

Acropolis Stonework in Greece

No one can talk or write about stonework without mentioning Ancient Greece. The Greeks were incredible architects, and they were not discouraged by the countless number of times invaders destroyed their masterpieces. Fortunately, the stonework erected in 482 BCE is still a sight to behold. The once gold and ivory statue of Athena stands atop the Acropolis in the city of Athens. Constructed mainly from limestone, these Greek architects weaved in Pentelic marble to create the jaw-dropping scene you see today.

Just a rock skip away in Rome remains the megalithic Theatre of Marcellus. The architectural influence of many theatres of the time, including the master Colosseum, was built from tufa and travertine, two types of stone known for their ability to resist water absorption. In addition, Marcellus was the first known structure built with fired Roman brick. These skilled architects knew how to construct a robust design, as this is the only theater from the period of Augustus (circa 11 BCE) surviving today.

English Cathedral Stonework

Exeter Cathedral Stone Work_1000

Exeter Cathedral Stone Work

Some of the most eye-catching pillars of architecture from the old world are the cathedrals stamped across England. One of the most noteworthy for stonemasons, such as our team at Petrillo Stone, is the Exeter Cathedral, properly known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter in Exeter. Exeter is an Anglican cathedral, and the seat of the Bishop of Exeter, in the city of Exeter, Devon, in South West England. Gothic-styled stonework, the Cathedral was constructed from stone from more than 20 different local quarries. A combination of Salcombe Stone, Chalk, and Devonian Limestone, Exeter is genuinely a structure that architects, stonemasons, geologists, and historians appreciate.

Closer to Home

While we all seem to fancy ancient and olde worlde stonework, we cannot forget that we are surrounded by beautiful stone structures right here in our neck of the woods. Here is our top-three of the must-see stonework around New York City:

St. Patrick Cathedral New York_1000

St. Patrick Cathedral New York

  • Empire State Building. Most of us have probably been to the top, but have you ever stopped to enjoy the stonework? We highly recommend it.
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Built entirely out of stone in the mid-1800s, St. Patrick’s is an icon around New York City. 
  • Brooklyn Bridge. Next time you take a drive from Brooklyn to Manhattan, as you stop to take in the views of the city, construction, and rush hour, be sure to gaze up at the beautiful stonework of the piers. The Brooklyn Bridge, constructed mainly of limestone, granite, and steel cables, was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

The Stonework of Petrillo Stone

While the history of Petrillo Stone doesn’t go back quite as far as Ancient Greek, we are very proud of the stonework we have erected and the legacy we have built since 1907. Stonemasonry is not only our career; it is our passion. We would be honored for you to view any of our recent stonework projects

Fordham University Seal

Carving and Installing Limestone Work at Fordham University

We recently were contacted by Fordham University who was looking to add two Limestone carvings into their Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, NY.

We hand-carved a cross that was 10 ft by 8 ft and a University Seal that had a 12 feet diameter. It took us a few months to carve the cross and the seal at our Mount Vernon, NY facility. But once they were ready, we installed them in less than a week at the new McShane Campus Center at Fordham University.

Get a close look at how they turned out:

 

Oldest map of Western Brittany

The Oldest Map of Europe Found Carved into Stone

Oldest map of Western BrittanyFrom time to time we like to feature unique stories about stone and masonry. Our ancestors had to be creative when it came to recording information. The most common way was carving important information into stone and stone walls.

Recently, a slab of stone with engraved intricate lines and motifs dating as far back to the Bronze Age has been revealed to be Europe’s oldest map, researchers say.

As investigated by CNN, researchers utilized high-resolution 3D surveys and photogrammetry to examine the Saint-Belec Slab – an engraved and partly broken piece of stone that was discovered in 1900 but forgotten about for almost a full century. It was revealed to be the oldest cartographic representation of a known territory in Europe.

The Oldest Map of Western Brittany Recorded

The records of this map show that the slab was moved into a private museum, the National Museum of Archaeology, in the castle of Saint-German-en-Laye, in 1900. In 2014, it was rediscovered in one of the museum’s cellars.

After studying this slab, researchers recognized that its surface was deliberately 3D-shaped to represent a valley with lines in the stone thought to depict a river network. The team of researchers noticed similarities between the engravings and landscape of Western Brittany. There are still many unknowns to this story, including why the slab was broken in the first place.

This study was published in the French Journal Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française.

It is exciting and interesting to learn the different functions of stone, and how it has changed throughout centuries.

Construction on a 50-Story Office Tower in New York City

Construction of 787 Seventh Avenue in New York City

We are excited to share that we have been awarded a multimillion-dollar marble contract for our most recent project with the CommonWealth Partners’ property in the lobby of their 50-story office at 787 Seventh Avenue in New York City.

787 Seventh Avenue in New York City houses an athletic club, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a parking garage, two restaurants, and offers direct access to transportation. Our contract consists of removing and salvaging stone benches, planters, and lighting, known as Flanagan Sculpture. We are drafting, supplying, and installing over 20,000 square feet of Avorio Limestone, Calacatta Marble, Absolute Black Granite, Porcelain, Ceramic Tile, and Silestone. This project is estimated to be completed by the second quarter of 2021.

6 Types of Stone Commonly Used for Projects

Variety of stonesThere are countless types of stone that can be used as materials for building. Each stone is unique, not all stones are equal, and some perform better when you use it for materials. At Petrillo Stone, we commonly use 6 materials in our projects:

  1. Basalt: This stone is between medium and fine grain. It’s dark-colored and composed of plagioclase and pyroxene minerals. This stone is commonly used to build roads, bridge piers, dams, river walls, and statues.
  2. Granite: Granite has a crystalline structure, and the grain can range from fine to course. It’s mostly made up of quartz and feldspar, with a little bit of mica and amphibole. Granite is used in buildings, bridges, paving, and monuments. Indoors, it can be used for tile floors, stair treads, and countertops.
  3. Sandstone: Sandstone is commonly combined with silica cement, and this mix is used to build heavy, solid structures. It’s made up of sand grains and a mix of silt or clay particles to occupy the space between the sand grains.
  4. Limestone: We commonly use limestone although not all limestone is usable. Certain varieties have high clay content making them non-durable. But, limestone is compact and dense which makes it great for building materials for floors, roofs, and pavements. Salty air can abrade it, so it’s best not to use it in coastal areas.
  5. Slate: Slate is made of quartz, clay minerals, and mica. It is extremely fine-grained and is used to make roofing tiles and pavers.
  6. Marble: Marble is known to be strong, uniform, imperious, and polishes beautifully. It’s made out of crystallized carbonate minerals. It’s easily carved, hence all the ancient statues carved in marble.

Our Response to COVID-19: Our Services Remain Available

We hope that you and your family are staying safe and well during this hectic time. The team at Petrillo Stone is maintaining a 6-foot distance and keeping our hands clean.

In this scary and confusing time, we wanted to update our clients and let them know that we are still taking jobs. In order to keep our workers and customers safe, we are running only skeleton crews. In addition, we’ve been thoroughly sanitizing the touch surfaces on all of our equipment and vehicles.

We realize this is an evolving situation, and we’re keeping an eye on it every day.

Limestone carving by Petrillo Stone

Limestone Carvings of Ignatius Loyola

As part of our contract with Fordham University, we finished up these limestone carvings depicting Ignatius Loyola’s life.

To create these carvings, we used Indiana Limestone and the original molds from the 1950’s.

The finished carvings can be found in their home at a monastery in Shrub Oak, NY. Ralph Petrillo is pictured standing next to the last carving.