Molding (decorative)

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Cavetto molding and resulting shadow pattern Molding-cavetto.png
Cavetto molding and resulting shadow pattern
Ovolo molding and resulting shadow pattern Molding-ovulo.svg
Ovolo molding and resulting shadow pattern
Cyma recta molding and resulting shadow pattern Molding-cyma.png
Cyma recta molding and resulting shadow pattern

Moulding (also spelled molding in the United States though usually not within the industry), also known as coving(United Kingdom, Australia), is a strip of material with various profiles used to cover transitions between surfaces or for decoration. It is traditionally made from solid milled wood or plaster, but may be of plastic or reformed wood. In classical architecture and sculpture, the molding is often carved in marble or other stones.

Contents

A "plain" molding has right-angled upper and lower edges. A "sprung" molding has upper and lower edges that bevel towards its rear, allowing mounting between two non-parallel planes (such as a wall and a ceiling), with an open space behind. Moldings may be decorated with paterae as long, uninterrupted elements may be boring for eyes.

Types

Moldings from 1728 Table of architecture in the Cyclopedia Moldings on the Table of architecture.jpg
Moldings from 1728 Table of architecture in the Cyclopedia

Decorative moldings have been made of wood, stone and cement. Recently moldings have been made of extruded PVC and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) as a core with a cement-based protective coating. Synthetic moldings are a cost-effective alternative that rival the aesthetic and function of traditional profiles.

Common moldings include:

Use

At their simplest, moldings hide and help weather seal natural joints produced in the framing process of building a structure. As decorative elements, they are a means of applying light- and dark-shaded stripes to a structural object without having to change the material or apply pigments. Depending on their function they may be primarily a means of hiding or weather-sealing a joint, purely decorative, or some combination of the three.

As decorative elements the contrast of dark and light areas gives definition to the object. If a vertical wall is lit at an angle of about 45 degrees above the wall (for example, by the sun) then adding a small overhanging horizontal molding, called a fillet molding, will introduce a dark horizontal shadow below it. Adding a vertical fillet to a horizontal surface will create a light vertical shadow. Graded shadows are possible by using moldings in different shapes: the concave cavetto molding produces a horizontal shadow that is darker at the top and lighter at the bottom; an ovolo (convex) molding makes a shadow that is lighter at the top and darker at the bottom. Other varieties of concave molding are the scotia and congé and other convex moldings the echinus, the torus and the astragal.

Placing an ovolo directly above a cavetto forms a smooth s-shaped curve with vertical ends that is called an ogee or cyma reversa molding. Its shadow appears as a band light at the top and bottom but dark in the interior. Similarly, a cavetto above an ovolo forms an s with horizontal ends, called a cyma or cyma recta. Its shadow shows two dark bands with a light interior.

Together the basic elements and their variants form a decorative vocabulary that can be assembled and rearranged in endless combinations. This vocabulary is at the core of both classical architecture and Gothic architecture.

See also

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Ogee

An ogee ( ) is the name given to objects, elements, and curves—often seen in architecture and building trades—that have been variously described as serpentine-, extended S-, or sigmoid-shaped. Ogees consist of a "double curve", the combination of two semicircular curves or arcs that, as a result of a point of inflection from concave to convex or vice versa, have ends of the overall curve that point in opposite directions.

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Abacus (architecture)

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Cornice Horizontal decorative molding that crowns a building or furniture

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Astragal Architectural element

An astragal is a moulding profile composed of a half-round surface surrounded by two flat planes (fillets). An astragal is sometimes referred to as a miniature torus. It can be an architectural element used at the top or base of a column, but is also employed as a framing device on furniture and woodwork.

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Ovolo

Ovolo, an architectural and design term for a fundamental element of ornamental, architectural molding, as presented in the 1911 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, was:

adapted from Ital. uovolo, diminutive of uovo, an egg; other foreign equivalents are Fr. ove, échine, quart de rond; Lat. echinus... [as used] in architecture, [for] a convex moulding known also as the echinus, which in Classic architecture was invariably carved with the egg and tongue. In Roman and Italian work the moulding is called by workmen a quarter round.

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Cavetto

A cavetto is a concave moulding with a regular curved profile that is part of a circle, widely used in architecture as well as furniture, picture frames, metalwork and other decorative arts. In describing vessels and similar shapes in pottery, metalwork and related fields, "cavetto" may be used of a variety of concave curves running round objects. The word comes from Italian, as a diminutive of cave, from the Latin for "hollow". A vernacular alternative is "cove", most often used where interior walls curve at the top to make a transition to the roof, or for "upside down" cavettos at the bases of elements.

Egg-and-dart Ornamental device alternating ovals with points

Egg-and-dart, also known as egg-and-tongue, egg and anchor, or egg and star, is an ornamental device adorning the fundamental quarter-round, convex ovolo profile of moulding, consisting of alternating details on the face of the ovolo—typically an egg-shaped object alternating with a V-shaped element. The device is carved or otherwise fashioned into ovolos composed of wood, stone, plaster, or other materials.

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Cymatium

Cymatium, the uppermost molding at the top of the cornice in the classical order, is made of the s-shaped cyma molding, combining a concave cavetto with a convex ovolo. It is characteristic of Ionic columns and can appear as part of the entablature, the epistyle or architrave, which is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of columns, and the capital itself. Often the cymatium is decorated with a palmette or egg-and-dart ornament on the surface of the molding.

The heights of the parts of the capital are to be so regulated that three of the nine parts and a half, into which it was divided, lie below the level of the astragal on the top of the shaft. The remaining parts are for the cymatium, abacus, and channel. The projection of the cymatium beyond the abacus is not to be greater than the size of the diameter of the eye [of the volute].

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1st ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Lewis, Philippa & Gillian Darley (1986) Dictionary of Ornament, NY: Pantheon
  3. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cyma"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 690.
  4. "Lamb's tongue profile" . Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  5. See drawings of period ceilings in Bankart, George, "The Art of the Plasterer", 1908; also Millar, William, "Plastering, Plain & Decorative", 1897
  6. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Torus"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 27 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 79.
  7. Distinctive Wood Designs Inc. (2010) "Trim Mouldings"

Further reading