Not scandal at the state Capitol, scagliola. That's the method of creating a marble look on plaster that the builders of the Capitol used to make something beautiful at less expense than real marble. In this video released by the Secretary of State's office, Capitol historian David Ware talks about the restoration project. Here's the accompanying news release:
(January 26, 2015) Little Rock, Ark. – Secretary of State Mark Martin announces workers involved in a restoration project currently underway at the Capitol make a significant find under decades of paint.
Scagliola - a decorative faux marble plaster – was widely utilized by artists in the early 1800s. Much of the original scagliola throughout the Capitol was replaced with genuine marble before the building’s completion. However columns and pilasters in the House chamber, as well as sixteen first-floor rotunda columns, retained their scagliola surfaces. At some unknown date, and for some unrecorded reason, these half-fluted columns were painted white. Then, over the next several decades, they received additional coats of paint.
In the coming months, careful restoration by skilled conservators of Evergreene Architectural Arts of New York plan to continue uncovering and restoring the long-unseen lustrous scagliola surfaces.
Another interesting facet to the project is use of an environmentally friendly soy-based paint stripper. By incorporating this product into the process, toxic fumes and byproducts are eliminated, enabling the project to go on during the day. This allows the many visitors to the Capitol to observe these artisans in action.
Currently, the project is on track for an estimated completion date near the end of February.