Projects

Restoration of St. Lutwinus parish church

In addition to the altars, the listed building’s unique interior includes terracotta Stations of the Cross, a floor covering with slabs and Mettlach clay-pin mosaics, as well as mosaics containing lots of Venetian gold and glass; they are testimony to a craftsmanship that is only rarely seen today.

However, during the restoration of individual works of art, numerous people were again able to experience this highly traditional mosaic art. Artefactur, a department of V&B Fliesen GmbH that specialises in craftsmanship and individual digital printing, sent a mosaic artist to the site and contributed its own now rare specialist knowledge.

Task:

The parish and pilgrimage church of St Lutwinus, completed at the beginning of the last century, is a listed building that is known far beyond its Saarland location. The sacred building that was built under the supervision of the then Villeroy & Boch stoneware factory contains numerous works of art of historical significance. These include the gold mosaics in the apse and vault, as well as in the side walls of the choir. They were created successively during the first half of the twentieth century on the basis of designs by various artists from the small mosaic department of Villeroy & Boch. They have a mystical radiance but, over the decades, have suffered as a result of environmental influences and the smoke of candles. As successor to the mosaic artists of the previous century, it was only natural that the Artefactur department of V&B Fliesen GmbH would carry out the restoration work and apply its in-house expertise.

It is not only dust and soot that have left their mark in the form of a sometimes unwelcome patina – over the years, cracks have appeared in a few places, and these now have to be filled professionally so that they will stand the test of time.

Implementation:

First, a special cleaning agent is applied in several stages in order to restore the Venetian glass and gold mosaic in the vault to its former glory. Working at a dizzying height, sometimes overhead, the Artefactur restorers will repair the damaged areas with real gold mosaic stones.

For example, there is a large crack in the “Sursum Corda – Lift up Your Hearts” mosaic. It is one of several mosaics donated by individual members of the von Boch family during the years 1902 to 1954. Small mosaic stones have broken away in some areas, and these now have to be replaced by stones in identical colours.

The jointing represents a further challenge. To ensure that the cracks do not reappear in the coming years and decades and that the stones are permanently joined together, a special jointing material has to be used.

On the one hand, it has to be flexible enough to fill cracks that are several centimetres deep on a “lasting basis”. On the other hand, it must not discolour the fine mosaic stones. Once the Artefactur specialists have defined the material, actually introducing the flexible joint grout into the fine cracks, some of which are less than a millimetre wide, represents a new challenge.

However, the Artefactur specialists are experienced and, above all, inventive. A special caulking gun is quickly developed and used successfully in the restoration of the mosaics. Only then can the works of art be cleaned.

Outcome:

The restoration will be completed over the next few days. As this location is of particular historical significance to V&B Fliesen GmbH, the project is particularly important for the company.

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