Conserving Our Painted Past
October 26 – 28, 2020
The first event of its kind, this Symposium will bring together practitioners in the care and conservation of painted walls to share case studies and discuss best practices. The preservation of early-19th-century painted decoration — which include murals, freehand brushwork, and stenciled decoration— becomes increasingly urgent over time, especially for walls in private homes.
There currently are no conservation standards or ‘best practices’ to guide the care of painted walls and many techniques used over the years have resulted in disaster! The “Conserving Our Painted Past” Symposium will provide homeowners and conservators with reliable and responsible approaches to preserving extant wall decoration for the enrichment of future generations. A great lineup of prominent conservators, researchers, homeowners, and tradespeople will fascinate you as an extensive variety of different topics are explored and discussed.
The Symposium program will survey the remarkable range of interior wall treatments practiced by early New England’s artist-decorators. It will highlight important new work in the technical preservation of decorated walls and celebrate the resurgence of custom wall and mural art in contemporary life.
Water damage caused a roof collapse at the Batchellor House in Chesterville, ME.
Keynote Speaker: How to See
Stephen Score, Folk Art Expert and Antique Dealer
Renowned expert in American Folk Art, Stephen Score takes us with him as he follows a road map to unexplored places filled with unclaimed treasure and shares how he learned to ‘see’!
Developing Preservation Strategies for Painted Walls
Dr. Jennifer Mass, Director, Scientific Research and Analysis Laboratory
Preserving painted walls means identifying materials and techniques originally used. To preserve the original painted surface, materials that will not modify or interact with the original paint layers are needed. Rufus Porter, Jonathan D. Poor, and John Avery ‘s materials and techniques will be explored within this context.
The Real Value of Paint Decorated Walls to Homeowners
Linda Griffin, Real Estate Broker, https://www.lindagriffinhomes.com/
Many people do not understand the value of paint decorated walls in historic homes. After restoring her own home, Griffin then learned to sell older homes with original paint decorated interiors. She alerted potential buyers, urging them to appreciate the beauty of the original walls and she enjoys sharing that information
When and Why to Hire a Professional Conservator
Sue Blakney, Chief Conservator & Founder, www.westlakeconservators.com
Recognized as a Fellow in the AIC and the IIC, Blakney has a passion for history, art, and culture. She and her firm treat easel paintings, murals, historic theater curtains, painted objects, works on paper, photographs and frames. Her experience includes assisting museum collections, historical societies and sites, colleges, universities, municipalities and private owners. She will share her personal experiences in treatments and problem solving.
Conservation of the Decoratively Painted Plaster Walls and Ceiling: Reception Room Suite, Victoria Mansion, Portland, ME
Siobhan Lindsay, Resident Conservator, Victoria Mansion
This lecture will focus on the treatment of the decoratively painted plaster surfaces in the Victoria Mansion including conservation methods and materials used. It will address techniques for cleaning water soluble paint, re-adhesion of gilding and the reproduction of lost paint and plaster elements.
Renovating the Middleton, NH, Town Hall
Cheryl Kimball, Historic Preservation Advocate
Through eight years of efforts in renovations to the Middleton NH Town Hall built in 1798, Kimball focused on preservation while garnering community support and funds. As a result, the 1841 John Avery wraparound murals in the second-floor chapel are now entrancing visitors in the 21st century.
Conservation of Paint and Plaster
Tony Castro, Artisan, Decorative Painter, Tony Castro Company
A discussion on materials and techniques used in adhering loose plaster on ceilings and walls and consolidating flaking and chalking decorative paint.
How Chemical Structures Affect How Light interacts to Produce Color
David Dempsey, Conservator
Chemical structures determine how light interacts with objects to produce color. In turn, varying chemical pathways affect the durability and conservation of historic color.
Paint Archeology: Architectural Finishes Investigation
John Vaughan, Principal, Architectural Conservation
This presentation will share an overview of the process involved in the investigation of architectural finishes. Methodologies and processes utilized during both in situ and cross section lab analysis will be discussed with an emphasis on the discovery and uncovering of overpainted decorative finishes.
Seeing Through Wallpaper
Ron Kley, Consultant
Many muraled, stenciled or freehand brushstroke walls have been discovered, and damaged, in the course of wallpaper removal. Simple and affordable application of thermal imaging technology offers possibilities for identifying painted designs hidden beneath wallpaper.
Conserving the Card Farmhouse Stenciled Wall Paintings
Katey Corda, Independent Art Conservator, Corda Conservation
Two exquisitely stenciled, domestic murals in Charlestown, RI, circa 1836, depict George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette. Sustaining damages, worm infestation and ethical questions of presentation-- conservation treatment presented challenges never before encountered.
Valuing Historic Paint-Decorated Walls
Helaine Fendelman, Appraiser, Helaine Fendelman & Associates
Since auction sales for 19th century American paint decorated plaster walls are few and far between, how does one know what to look for and how to value these rarities.
Restoration of the Central Vault of the Church of Saint-Romuald
Sophie Roberge, Paintings Conservator, Centre de Conservation du Quebec
With major conservation problems consisting of paint flaking, water stains, cracks and detached plaster, the treatment plan, process and materials used in the on-site restoration project undertaken by the Centre de Conservation du Québec (Canada) are discussed.
‘Less is More’ when Conserving Painted Plaster
Chris Thomson & Wanda Kochanowski, Conservators specializing in gilded and decorated furniture and surfaces
Most conservation or restoration treatments must include choosing material that will not alter the original surface. Microscopes allow sufficient examination for understanding all paint layers prior to mechanical work.
Nina Roth Wells, Paintings Conservator
Discussed is the removal, conservation and reconstruction of the Alice in Wonderland room formerly located in the Grace Burleigh home in Wayne, ME and now at the Cary Memorial Library in Wayne, ME.
Outside In: The Interrelationship Between Conservation of Interior Finishes and The Building Envelope
Natasha Klemek, Kress Fellow in Architectural Conservation, Historic New England
More than the interior surface of decorative paintwork should be examined when planning conservation treatment. Maintaining the entire envelope of a building from gutters to wall structure is vital - especially if a car has just driven through your historic house!
Lost in Place: Saving Painted Wall Paintings
David Ottinger, Preservation Contractor
Unlike most art, painted walls are dependent on the structure of buildings; this fact is a determinant for their survival. The presentation features case studies showing when, why and how painted walls are moved.
Traditional Techniques Triumph in Plaster Repair.
Brian Pfeiffer, Independent Architectural Historian & Founding Editor, Archipedia New England (www.archipedianewengland.org).
Pfeiffer discusses and advocates for the use of traditional building materials and craft knowledge in the repair of historic buildings. With over 40 years’ experience, Brian has supervised architectural conservation projects for Historic New England, the Architectural Conservation Trust for Massachusetts, Preservation Massachusetts, Inc., Historic Boston, Inc., the Nantucket Preservation Trust, and private clients.
The CPWP is grateful for Symposium support from:
American Folk Art Society
Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund, Maine Community Foundation
Davis Family Foundation
The Decorative Arts Trust
Historical Society of Early American Decoration
Whitney Fund Community Preservation Grant Historic New England
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