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News from the Scaffolding

July 8, 2011

This is the second in a series of guest blogs written by visiting students who are working on the conservation of the decorative scheme created by William Hole. This post was written by Stephanie Oman from the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation:

When I heard about the William Hole mural project at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, my immediate response was, “when can I go?” As a Historic Decorative Finishes major, I am learning to specialize in painted surfaces on a variety of substrates. Many of those projects involve interior architectural elements, including murals like the ones in the Portrait Gallery.

Eeva working on the scaffold

Despite some initial problems with lost baggage and my failure to bring warm clothing, I was thrilled to start working on the project in late June. I was assigned to work on a scaffold with Eeva, a graduate student from the Northumbria Conservation Program. We have really enjoyed exchanging notes about the similarities and differences between our training programs, as well as Scottish and American cuisine, weather, and fashion.

Stephanie setting down flaking paint with a tacking iron

We were assigned to a corner of the ambulatory level where there was a small amount of flaking paint from previous damage to the walls. In addition to cleaning the ceiling in this corner of the gallery, we worked with Karen, Fiona, and Lesley to select the appropriate consolidant for re-adhering the flaking paint to the plaster substrate. After a few attempts to use an overall-consolidation system, we found that it was necessary to consolidate each flaking area by applying the adhesive behind the flaking paint with a brush. Once the adhesive was applied, we reduced the cupping of the paint flakes with a small amount of heat and pressure with a tacking iron. Although the work was a bit time-consuming, we were very satisfied with the results!

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