I was recently working on a freelance writing project on historic masonry restoration in Australia. And I really developed an understanding of the basics of masonry work. The intricacies, the details, and the power of the old ways in inspiring NEWER work, is an incredible journey to be able to read about.
The cement that we have today didn’t just come from the sky. It was built through a progressive overload of new ideas, exploring new concepts, and experimentation.
Now, cement is a major mortar used in almost all modern structures. Modern cement or natural cement was made in the mid 1800s and gave rise to the currently very popular, Portland Cement.
Its thick, solid, tight.
Everything you’ve ever wanted out of your physique.
Its also incredibly strong.
More than any of its predecessors. And its no wonder why it has grown to such global popularity.
Its the best.
Or is it?
When it comes to historic restoration in the diverse climates of Australia, Portland Cement just doesn’t cut it.
Did you know all walls are breathable?
Even cement ones?
Yes, all walls breathe due to a level of permeability in their structure (both through brick and through the mortar used). It makes sense then that cement would be the most rigid as well, offering the least breath-ability compared to other mortars like those made of limestone.
However, going back to the old ways is really important and can shed light on new foundations of learning.
Going back and seeing the basics of strength training or diet then using those as reinforced filters to disseminate new information can be useful to creating something great.
Using Mortar to Improve YOUR Restoration
The project also got me thinking about the impact of restoration and how you have to use the same material that the structure is made of to restore it.
Sitting around and waiting for your pain to subside or your dysfunctions to go away isn’t going to do much if that’s ALL you do.
At some point, you need to address the structural integrity of who you are. You have to asses and correct or more likely get an expert to guide you through the process.
You have to strengthen. You have to gain stability to allow yourself the mobility needed to do the daily work that you need done in life.
The Versatility of the Old Ways
Lime mortars came about in Victoria, Australia (the area of focus for my project) as part of a lack of resources to attract more experimental but powerful mortars like cement.
So what did our industrious masons from Southern Australia do? They went to the Nepean River, extracted limestone, and built kilns to burn that stone into an eventual putty.
Its really ingenious the way that they practiced this. From using the natural geography to cutting furnaces into the mountains, its amazing to see how their ingenuity placed limestone at such a value.
And part of mentioning this is to show that going back to the basics doesn’t mean that you’re boring. The NEW comes from ingenuity and creativity USING the BASICS.
Whether its the concept of progressive overload, using lingua franca movements, or improving positional play, YOU NEED creativity with the basics in order to continue to flourish. We’re not changing the tools, we’re changing how we use them.
When you use things that are already secondary iterations of creativity of the basics, you may lose the essence of what made the basics such cornerstones of their craft.
Go back to the basics and realize how versatile they can be.
God forbid it requires you and I to use our brains more.
Slow and Steady has its Benefits
And that’s what lime mortars have been used for. For over thirty years, it was thought that cement would be fine to heal historic sites. Until the last decade or so, lime mortars began a return to triumph in restoration.
Why? Because literally, these lime mortars do a better job of healing historical structures than modern cement.
This is due to a characteristic of lime mortars to dry fairly slowly. Lime can take several years to solidify which makes you think why they’d be useful at all. However, its because of this attribute, that makes lime mortars very good at healing lime structures.
As the mortar is exposed to rainwater, parts of the mortar liquefy and seep into the deep crevices of the brickwork. Now separated from the outside, elements, the mortar slowly hardens.
Often times this allows the lime mortar to reach the point-site of the historic structure’s damage, healing at the site of decay.
In today’s day, these lime mortars continue to be used in new combinations and mixes that make them more versatile then they were back in the 1850s when those historical structures were built.
With modern experimentation, mortars that provide almost the same level of structural integrity as cement while maintaining incredible breath-ability are possible.
Go back to the Basics, Be Creative, and Build Something Great
By going back and then looking forward, historic restoration stone masons have been able to take the basics and combine them with a degree of creativity to fashion something incredibly useful.
They’ve preserved history and allowed other generations the same opportunity to go back to basics, use a little creativity, and create something even better.
This is industriousness. And this is what fitness should be about.