My Dumpster Diving Day

May 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

Members of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy are touring the Dana-Thomas House tomorrow, and I am taking one of the groups through. I am a bit nervous and have been boning up on facts and history that I may have forgotten. In the process, I found on-line an excellent archived article entitled “Doing the Wright Thing” by Harold Henderson published in the Chicago Reader August 30, 1990, the year of the opening of the renovated house by the state of Illinois. Henderson documents details of the project as well as some political background. I found a few inaccuracies (including the furniture story), but for the most part, the article is a comprehensive record of an important juncture in the history of the house.

Among the facts he shares is a description of how the faux copper color was achieved on the plaster frieze under the eaves. According to Henderson, the job required three coats of linseed oil for waterproofing, one coat of sealer, and four layers of glaze—dark green, silver, gilt bronze, and light green. The glaze was then mottled to achieve the effect we now see ribboning the house.

I had forgotten those details, and reading the article reminded me of my special treasure. I was on the site on one of the days when the workers were affixing the frieze to the house. They were cutting the painted plaster to fit the corners, etc. and throwing the extra pieces in the trash. I saw my chance, selected a small piece of the plaster from the dumpster, and took it home. Other pieces were retrieved by other people and were even sold in the Sumac Shop I believe, but my piece is special to me. It not only symbolizes an historical event but reminds me of my dumpster diving day.

My Piece of History

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§ One Response to My Dumpster Diving Day

  • Richard Herndon says:

    It was interesting to read about how the aged copper effect was achieved on the plaster frieze. I have had some tourists ask me if the frieze is real copper, and while I have to tell them, “No, it’s plaster,” sometimes they wonder how it can look so much like copper.

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