Course Leaders: Thea van Oosten, former senior conservation scientist at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) since 1989, currently retired and freelancing and Anna Laganà, lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and freelance conservator / researcher specialized in the conservation of plastics. Both were entertaining educators throughout the course.
This is a short review of the above plastics workshop which took place as a collaborative professional development program between the University of Amsterdam and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE). The four day course combined theory and practice, as well as input from the ten participants from seven countries regarding the challenges they are encountering with plastics materials.
An overview of the development of plastics from the 19th century to present day was reported including the chemical properties and manufacturing processes which create the various types of plastics materials. This was useful in determining what type of plastics you may be working with and how this influences degradation and therefore future preservation protocols. Understanding the difference between three main characteristics of thermoplastics, thermosets and elastomers and their polymeric makeup made sense when thinking about characteristics and deterioration patterns. The impact of additives, such as fillers, pigments and plasticizers used to manipulate the properties of plastics materials can have drastic effects on the aesthetic aspect, touch and life span of many plastic objects. These are considered the internal factors that gear the longevity of synthetic materials. External factors like oxygen, ozone, light and temperature cause oxidative degradation and hydrolysis of plastic objects initiating catalytic reactions and can accelerate deterioration. Scary stuff! But in the safe hands of Thea and Anna we motored on.
The five most vulnerable plastics: cellulose nitrate, cellulose acetate, poly (vinyl chloride), natural rubber and polyurethane were highlighted. These plastics are known to show significant deterioration patterns in short periods of time. Chemical breakdown, physical and mechanical damage and also, biological damage are often documented with these kinds of plastics. Theory sessions encompassed plenty of handling sessions using examples from reference collections donated to the RCE by Thea van Oosten. This exercise helped to familiarize participants with various plastics materials produced through history by feeling, smelling and listening to the sound plastics make when dropped. Density and color were other considerations. Film clips of manufacturing processes and artists using and manipulating plastic products to produce works of art were shown.
Ron Mueck – videos: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4tUoKVLJ8j6onJ2C5ytdGQ
Practical sessions included the impact of solvents on various plastics types. Deionized water and white spirit (organic clear solvent made with a mixture of hydrocarbons) seemed to have the least effect, whereas acetone showed significant physical change. Great fun was had examining residual strains in clear and translucent plastics using a strain viewer. This instrument provided a fabulous myriad of colors which enabled the examiner to measure the internal stress areas. Learning adhesive and consolidation methodologies provided good pragmatic solutions to repair and stabilize plastic objects that are physically or mechanically damaged. Understanding surface energy of plastic surfaces (low energy a water droplet will remain on the surface, high energy the water droplet will disperse evenly) was useful to know when thinking about adhesion levels and prevention of causing further internal stress and strain. There was dedicated sessions to the specific properties and consolidation of polyurethane foam as this material can degrade quickly depending on its polymeric make-up. Cleaning strategies were reviewed and practical sessions included the effects of dry cleaning methods, solvents and mild detergent solutions on various plastics materials.
Preventive guidelines were discussed; display parameters of 50- 150 lux (5-14 foot-candles), dark conditions preferred in storage, 50%RH, a temperature of 18-20 centigrade (64.4-68 Fahrenheit), good ventilation to prevent a build-up of gaseous degradation products from off-gassing plastics and maintaining a low temperature to help slow down the degradation process. Oxygen scavengers were mentioned as a useful product to help maintain a good environment. Encapsulating rubber objects was also demonstrated in order to slow down the deterioration of rubber being one of the most vulnerable plastics.
All participants were provided with a folder with useful theory, a bibliography and documentation of the presentations that were given during the course. One of the most useful sections for me were the tables reflecting the solubility parameters and chemical resistance of plastics, these would certainly help when deciphering appropriate cleaning systems if appropriate at all. I would certainly consider the use of micro emulsions and gels as other applications which were not included in the workshop. Also, the data sheets referring to adhesive properties and their appropriateness to various plastic types would be a good reference point to selecting adhesive and consolidation treatments. All provided good starting points for investigation.
With many thanks to Thea and Anna, they were both marvelous!
Since 2010, there have been four Preventive Conservation workshops on Ossabaw Island, three of which have been generously funded by FAIC. These workshops have provided a unique training experience for both emerging conservation professionals and pre-program students.
Background and History of the Island
Ossabaw Island is a 26,000-acre remote barrier island off the coast of Savannah, Georgia. It has five residents, and may only be accessed by private boat. It is mostly wilderness, but there are some very interesting historic buildings, including some slave cabins of tabby construction (a technique using oyster shells, sand, and water as the mortar ingredients), the Club House (c. 1885) – where lectures take place and participants are housed, and the Torrey-West House or the “Main House” – where the actual work is carried out.
Dr. and Mrs. Torrey bought the island in 1924 and had a house built there to be their family’s winter home to escape the harsh winters of their native Michigan. The house was completed in 1926, and the Torreys spent four months (January – April) there each year afterward. The current owner of the house is Mrs. Eleanor “Sandy” Torrey West, who is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Torrey and is currently 101 years old.
In 1961, Mrs. West and her husband started an artist colony, where writers, artists, and composers could come stay in the Wests’ home and be inspired by the island’s natural beauty and tranquility. In the 1970s, this evolved into the Genesis Project, where college students and less-established artists came to work on various projects. The Genesis participants were more self-sufficient and built settlements, cooking/dining/washing facilities, and a pottery kiln at an area of the island called “Middle Place.”
With her money running out, Mrs. West decided to sell the island to the state of Georgia in 1978, but she had several stipulations. She wanted the island to remain wild and continue to be a place of inspiration, creativity, and discovery, so the state was not allowed to build a causeway or start a ferry service to the island. They also had to continue encouraging arts and sciences projects/research and allow her to continue living in her house on the island until her death.
The original goals of the workshop were to use the Main House to:
1. Train housekeepers working in historic houses.
2. Professionalize preventive conservation.
3. Expose professional and emerging conservators to a nascent historic house and provide an opportunity for them to take part in its institutionalization.
The workshop provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn about preventive conservation and housekeeping practices for a historic house. The things that make this program so unique are that the house…
- is still a home in which the current owner is a 101-year-old woman who resides there full-time.
- is on a remote island, and supplies must be brought out by chartered boat from the mainland.
- suffers from MANY problems, such as:
- The environment of the island (heat, humidity, salty ocean air, etc.)
- Mold and mildew
- Rotting wood
- Rusting metal
- Extensive damage to house, furniture, pillows/cushions, carpets/rugs, books, taxidermy, etc by termites, carpet beetles, silverfish, rodents, and other pests.
- General neglect
- As Mrs. West became older, she could not take care of the house by herself, and she could not afford to pay for the amount of repairs and housekeeping that the house required.
- Exotic game heads (a lioness, black rhino, water buffalo, and a few kinds of antelope) have always been a major component of the living room décor, even appearing in the original architect drawings for the house. These may have been shot by Dr. Torrey himself on a safari hunting trip to Africa. All of them were treated with an arsenic-based pesticide. Testing of the heads found that some had arsenic content that was off the charts (>160 ppb).
- The environment of the island (heat, humidity, salty ocean air, etc.)
Though current housekeepers in historic houses were the original target audience, most of the people who have completed the workshop have been pre-program conservation students. A house with such a rich and fascinating history, but so many conservation issues, provides a lot of opportunities for pre-programmers to learn and gain hands-on experience. That is probably the workshop’s greatest achievement: exposing potential conservation students to collections care and preventive conservation.
I was lucky enough to have been one of the participants in the 2013 season. It was not glamorous. We worked hard and got dirty, crawling around on the floors and under cobwebbed furniture, vacuuming, dusting, moving heavy wooden furniture, and examining sticky traps that had caught all sorts of disgusting, multi-legged creatures. Through all of this, we got exposure to integrated pest management (IPM) and the care of furniture, paintings, textiles, books, and works of art on paper. It could be gross, but it was fun and exciting, too. As David said in his presentation, “Everything is an adventure on Ossabaw.”
Another major achievement of the workshop has been in helping emerging conservation professionals by providing third-year students or recent graduates the opportunity to be instructors. In 2013, that included two former WUDPAC students, Stephanie Hulman (paintings) and Emily Schuetz Stryker (textiles). These young professionals play an essential role because they have knowledge of the most recent techniques and advancements in the field and are better able to answer pre-program students’ questions about portfolios and conservation school.
Unfortunately, Emily Schuetz Stryker died suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this year. She was a great instructor, a wonderful person, and the most talented knitter that I have ever met. The Ossabaw workshop would not have been the same without her sense of humor and her wonderful laugh.
RIP Emily Schuetz Stryker (1987 – 2014)
We were all looking forward to spending three days at the National Gallery and one day at Pyramid Atlantic looking at prints, but just as the start of the workshop approached, the government shutdown began. With the National Gallery closed indefinitely, the workshop organizers had to scramble to make alternate arrangements.
As one of the participants, I am happy to report that they were successful. The Corcoran Gallery of Art was able to provide space for us, and we had a great first day. We reviewed familiar print techniques and terminology, and learned some new ones (for me, anyway), such as CNC, or computer numerical control- using a computer to achieve detail and precision that would be difficult or impossible by hand; soap ground, or white ground- a technique using a mixture of soap flakes, linseed oil, and water to create painterly white areas; and water bite- using an acid/water mixture on a tilted plate to create subtle gradations in depth.
We have begun day two and will be going more in-depth on contemporary print processes and hear from some guest lecturers, including: Marian Dirda from the National Gallery; Shelley Langdale, of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Amze Emmons, R.L. Tillman and Jason Urban from the website Printeresting.
Thanks to Stephanie Lussier, Scott Homolka, Abigail Choudry, and everyone from AIC and the Corcoran that made this workshop possible despite the shutdown.
The Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies offers valuable opportunities for conservators to update their skills, and to increase their productivity and scope of practice through its excellent series of conservation refresher courses.
Last summer I attended the new course, “Book Repair Techniques for Special Collections,” at the Campbell Center in Mount Carroll, Illinois. The four-day course provided me and the other four participants with an informative and practical immersion in the theory and ethics of rare books conservation, an overview of binding history and structures, and hands-on experience with rare books stabilization techniques.
Our instructor, Olivia Primanis, the senior book conservator at the University of Texas at Austin’s Humanities Research Center, presented the course as a combination of lectures, class discussions, technique demonstrations, and hands-on practice.
Each student filled out a condition report and treatment proposal for a damaged book they brought with them, then discussed it with the class so we could consider treatment options as a group.
The hands-on portion of the course included opportunities to practice testing methods, paring leather, lifting leather and cloth covers, consolidating corners, rebacking, reattaching spines and boards, and repairing damaged sewing. The small class allowed Olivia to give each student plenty of individual attention.
I found Olivia to be a gifted and inspiring teacher who excelled at teaching treatment techniques and sharing the knowledge and insights she’d gained during her career as a bookbinder, conservator, and former library conservation program instructor.
An aspect of the class that I found especially valuable was Olivia’s emphasis on treatment decision-making and being aware of the factors that influence our decisions, such as time available for the treatment or the conservator’s knowledge of techniques. She spoke about how preferred treatment approaches have evolved over time, corresponding with changing bias in book conservation, and challenged us to consider how our current biases might be viewed by conservators in the future.
Olivia discussed the importance of determining the cause of the failure or damage before treating the book, considering whether the planned treatment would transfer the stress to a different location, and recognizing when repairing broken book structures might not be best for the book. Certain types of physical and bibliographic evidence may need to be preserved, such as wax in a liturgical book or a historical patina and fingerprints indicating use.
She reminded us that each step of the conservation treatment influenced the way the book moved. We had the opportunity to explore this for ourselves by handling an identical set of books she had treated using different techniques, and by trying the techniques during the hands-on practice.
The Campbell Center’s remote yet charming small town location could have been a disadvantage, but the staff and instructors worked hard to build community among concurrent classes through optional trips in the evenings to area restaurants and the Raven’s Grin, the town’s unique haunted house. The course fee included housing in the Campbell Center campus dormitory, communal breakfasts and lunches, and access to the library’s computers and wireless internet.
The informal, collaborative environment encouraged students and instructors from different classes to share and learn from each other. Our class was treated to an excellent guest lecture on leather and parchment when Dr. Sheila Fairbrass-Siegler, a conservator and chemist who taught the concurrent “Introduction to Organic and Inorganic Materials” course, offered to present the talk for us one afternoon.
Olivia’s course gave me the opportunity to learn and practice new treatment techniques, and to focus deeply on why and how we treat rare books, including the consequences of our treatment decisions.
“Book Repair Techniques for Special Collections” will benefit general collections conservators, conservation technicians, library bookbinders, and conservators of paper and photographs who wish to expand their skills.
The workshop will be offered again on July 24 to 27, 2013 at the Campbell Center. In addition, Dr. Fairbrass-Siegler will teach a new “Parchment Conservation” workshop at the center from July 17 to 20, 2013. A limited number of $300 FAIC scholarships are available. For more information, visit www.campbellcenter.org.
From the Lab to Field Choosing and Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Dawn Bolstad-Johnson, MPH, CIH, CSP
Chris Stavroudis, Paintings Conservator in Private Practice
So I tried to take down as much information as I could that was presented at this workshop which, by the way, was excellent. There is a LOT of helpful and interesting information that (I hope) will be helpful and interesting to our blog-reading audience.
So, here we go!
Objectives of the Workshop:
- Determine minimum PPE needed in the lab at disaster scenes
- Review of Typical Exposures Hazards
- Routes of Entry
- Hierarchy of Controls
- Common PPE
- Common complacency of not using PPE
- Health effects from typical exposures
- Tips to protect yourself
- How to address situations where all parties are not wearing PPE
Hierarchy of Controls
- Engineering Controls
- Local exhaust (e.g. fume hood)
- Product replacement
- Administrative Controls
- Employee rotation for a task which involves the exposure, so that one person is not exposed to the hazard repeatedly
- PPE is always the last resort
- Wearing PPE should NOT create a new hazard
- E.g. fire fighters have to wear it because you cannot engineer or administrate the hazards out
- Wearing PPE should NOT create a new hazard
- OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.132
- Employers need to do a hazard assessment to determine if hazards present necessitate the use of PPE
- Students and volunteers are also included under this as well
- Employers must certify in writing that the hazard assessment was conducted – job hazard assessment: hazards identified in all parts of the job that needs to be performed e.g. soot cleaning from painting
- PPE selection must be made on the hazard assessment and affected workers properly trained. Defective or damaged PPE must NOT be used
Routes of Entry
- Typical Hazards to Conservators
- Health concerns arise when the concentration of mold inside the building is significantly higher than outdoor concentrations
- We are in filtered air inside building which should be lower than outdoor
- Identifying the concentration of the mold is more important than identifying the actual species of mold
- “Black mold” scare was the result of a report by the CDC that babies were inhaling stachybotrys and lungs were bleeding from the inside. The actual truth was discovered in the autopsies: only the upper respiratory tract was affected. The CDC retracted their statement after discovering the error, but it’s too late and the media has blown it all out of proportion.
- Sampling techniques
- Air samples on agar – potato dextrose agar for mold in early 1990s
- Now with spore traps for air sampling – cover slide inside a cassette – captures live and dead – sample is about 5 minutes of air flow sampled
- Swab samples also
- Bulk samples (e.g. sample on wall, ceiling) – culture is performed
- Need to compare with the OUTSIDE mold spore numbers to get an accurate picture of the problem
- Where do you take the sample? Take 3 samples in the size of Marriot’s Salon A and 2 samples outside – 2 samples for a smaller space or 1 for a very small space
- To get rid of it: remove moisture (e.g. dehumidifier); if it’s in the wall and has no way to get out (e.g. electrical outlets, phone jacks), there is nothing to worry about
- Dry spores are just as harmful as active spores
- As a practice, in a water soaked facility, check not only artifacts and shelving, but also the walls and the carpeting
- Dust near water damage could be dry mold and therefore a respiratory hazard
- Working in fume hood or elephant trunk is advised when working with any type of mold
- Vacuuming: use HEPA vacuum and throw away the filter in plastic bag
- Nilfisk’s helpful hint for filter disposal: put plastic shopping bag under the vacuum filter in the vacuum and then when you throw it away, you can bag it and throw it away
- Facts about mold
- Classified as viable (live) and non-viable (dead)
- Both are health hazards if inhaled
- Mold affects everyone differently
- Mold growth in the lung is called – aspergilliosis, as aspergillus is the likely culprit
- Mold can establish itself 24-48 hours following water intrusion
- Most likely species will be penicillium (aggressive – first one “out of the gate”) and/or aspergillus
- Presence of penicillium can introduce a musty odor to the environment – indicator
- Concentration can change from room to room – odor just means a presence not necessarily at a toxic level because toxicity varies from person to person – floats in a “cloud”
- TANGENT: Fact about cigarette smoke and “smoker’s cough”: Silia hairs in lungs are paralyzed by nicotine; when nicotine wears off, the silia then try to expel smoke by-products aka cough and when the person smokes again, the silia are paralyzed again and the cough goes away
- When is dust an inhalation hazard?
- 10 micron size particulate can get into your upper respiratory tract
- 5 micron size particulate can get into your lower lung
- What’s in dust?
- Fire retardants from plastics in our house
- Nuisance dust not otherwise specified
- Asbestos fibers
- Break along both axis making the fibers breathable
- Asbestos is a natural occurring mineral and is inorganic
- Our bodies cannot digest asbestos fibers. When they deposit in your lung, your lung will try to digest the foreign body and it cannot digest it. Scar tissue will form over the fiber causing mesothelioma (cancer of the inner lining of your body only from asbestos – 30 year latency period)
- Silica fibers do the same thing
- Should you be concerned with fiberglass exposure? Yes! No regulations for it, but you should be concerned, as it is extremely small shards of glass essentially.
- Mouse droppings (hanta) – spray with Lysol to prevent particles from becoming airborne and spreading
- Bird droppings (histoplasmosis)
- Underwriters Lab – Average home has 1700 lbs of plastic in it
- NIST Video of room containing legacy (all wood older furniture and natural fibers) versus modern (modern plastics, fabrics, etc.) – modern flashover time 3:40 / legacy flashover time: 30 minutes
- You could be going into these environments for recovery
- Modern room = more and more toxic during the fire and after
- Fire soot contains: AIC Journal article– hydrochloric acid, metals, cyanide salts.
- OSHA standards are MINIMUM STANDARDS and some have not been updated since 1968! When protecting yourself and others, do better than the OSHA standards
- Paper masks cannot be used for asbestos (P100, N95)
- Charlie Morecraft – Exxon – safety videos
- Protection Factor of 10 (although she says that the paper disposable ones shouldn’t have that good enough of a seal around the face to provide that amount of protection).
- Half mask respirator is better than the disposable mask
- Now breatheable suits are available also made of Tyvek – KleenGuard Select made by Kimberly-Clark
- Solvent on Hands
- Includes all solvents you use
- Isopropyl alcohol to kill mold
- Chronic use of solvents can often result in the defatting of the skin if proper gloves are not worn
- Glove limitations
- One type of glove is not sufficient for all of the different chemicals you may use in your practice
- E.g. Nitrile gloves are not recommended for Methyl Ethyl Keytone
- Check with the glove manufacturer for their Chemical Resistance
- Glove Breakthrough Times – USE CHARTS made by glove manufacturer e.g. Ansell
- For mixtures of solvents, get a glove that covers all solvents. If not available, use the one that has the highest concentration in the overall mixture
- Latex – overall poor choice because they are very porous and latex allergy
- One type of glove is not sufficient for all of the different chemicals you may use in your practice
- Chemical in the eyes – anything that can splash
- Amount in container doesn’t matter – if it can splash, it’s an eye hazard
- Solvent on Hands
- Studies show that a person raise their hands to their face once every 20 minutes
- Ingestion occurs from hand to mouth activity
- Blood contamination
- Sewage contamination
- Standing water of unknown origin could be sewage contamination
- Can be sampled for e-coli – litmus test for sewage – can do this dry – can be there weeks, months later
- Test results are a week turnaround time – not a quick test
- Hepatitis B can survive up to 7 days in blood
- Hepatitis A can survive up to 7 days in sewage
- Wash your hands A LOT
- Handwashing: antibacterial soap NOT a good idea because it kills good and bad bacteria – use alcohol-based sanitizer if no handwashing stations available
- What is proper handwashing? – 15-20 seconds! Sing Happy Birthday twice! Soap up and vigorous rubbing
- Artificial nails harbor a LOT of bacteria (ewww)
- CDC has a video on proper handwashing to the tune of Rolls Royce’s “Car Wash” (dance while washing your hands!)
- Insect Bites
- West Nile
- Bed bugs
- Look for in hotel under sheets and mattress pad/ cover– little ink spots from ballpoint pen – fecal matter from the bedbug (ick)
- Kill with heat treatment!
- In one instance in a building infestation, propane heaters were placed in the building and heated up to 160F degrees for four hours
- They apparently have dogs that sniff out bed bugs and mold too!?! Apparently bed bugs give off an odor… eww…
- Eye injuries
- Ammonia burn
- Chemical burn
- Corneal laceration
- Eye wash ASAP! FAST!!!
- Run eye wash 1x / month for maintenance
- Engineer your hazard out – splash injury – use dispensing bottle, smaller amounts so less risk for splashing
- Wear goggles with contact lenses – contact lens can fuse to eye
- New eye protection standards in latest AIC News
- Common causes of chemical eye burn
- Ammonia, bleach, and toilet bowl cleaner
- Vinegar and glass polish
- Dishwasher detergent, oven cleaner, drain cleaner
- Contact lens cleaner
- Car battery fluid
- PPE for eye protection
- Safety glasses and face shield
- Proper lifting techniques
- Elbows tucked into torso versus stretched arm
- Bending at waist to pick up something versus bending legs
- Reaching techniques
- Keep load close to your body – no outstretching – same for typing, or reaching for the phone
- OSHA Zones
- Green zone
- Arms tucked tight into your torso biceps doing the work
- Yellow zone
- Some extension but not full
- Red zone
- Full extension of arms
- Full extension of torso
- Back brace serves as reminder to use legs, but does not provide support
- Green zone
- Seat position: two finger width distance between knee and edge of chair
- Slide seat panel out for long legs
- Back support for some chairs – adjustable
- Proper lifting techniques
- Thin nitrile gloves
- N95 filtering face piece
- ½ mask respirator with cartridges
- Steel toed shoes
- Safety vest
- Hard hat
- ALWAYS if the respirator face piece shows any signs of deterioration, cracks, etc. or if the inhalation valves are cracked, warped, or missing
- Check with the manufacturer for specific shelf-life years
- Generally speaking they should be replaced every 5 years
- Immediately if there are excessive scratches or damage
- 10 years otherwise
- Immediately if scratches/ damaged
- Every 3 years
- Stored in a response bag
- Replace with new gloves every year
- She listed the standard “dos and don’ts” that we all know we should do… but often don’t do. Listing the standard dress code, don’t wear open toed shoes, tie your hair back cited the Yale example of the girl who died in the chemistry lab this past year.
- General safety rules: no food and drink – cross contamination. Know the equipment you’re using, know where all safety gear is, bucket of safety glasses by the door for visitors
- Health hazards in the lab: organic solvents, chemistry professor died from mercury poisoning after a small drop of dimethylmercury got on her glove. Post doc wearing wrong glove when working with concentrated sulphuric acid – 2nd degree burns
- Electricity and water don’t mix
- Is the power off when they told you?
- Is the power on when they told you?
- GFCI device
- Circuit alert non-contact voltage tester – non-contact (device to detect conductivity). Also one for testing the lights in your Christmas lights
- Wear the right footwear – electrical insulating, steel toe, high enough to keep socks dry
- Use HEPA filter vacuums ONLY
- Herd mentality
- In response stay with the herd, use the buddy system, have a meeting point in case you get separated
- When people won’t wear PPE:
- Fire fighters – “like teaching safety in a frat house” (I thought that was HILARIOUS BTW) – SCBA (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus) needs to stay on because they enter “chemical soups” that our half face masks couldn’t handle
- Legal issues with handing out masks to laypersons e.g. firefighters handing out masks to homeowners after a fire
- Think of it this way in terms of people refusing to wear PPE: give people the knowledge and then if they choose not to wear PPE, then they know the risk
- Responding to after fire, formaldehyde is the biggest danger as a carcinogen. Use CBRN canister (Chemical, Biology, Radiological and Nuclear) that protects against formaldehyde
If you find any errors, spelling errors, etc. please let me know and I will be happy to change them! Thanks so much.
The workshop began on time. We were provided an advance copy of the general workshop notes with advice to skim or read prior to the workshop. Very helpful! There was a large amount of material covered. The workshop was a survey of many different techniques used in exhibitions from many locations. The PowerPoint presentation was full of images, bullet points, along with references to additional handouts provided during the workshop. Showcased what works well and what does not work.
The presenter, Helen Alten, used a combination of lecture and hands-on-activities to give participants a clearer idea of the techniques being discussed. Most helpful, as we moved through a variety of techniques. The presenter also invited participants to discuss their experiences, questions, and mount solutions in the workshop.
Participants had varying levels of experience, training, and areas of specialty. Group work during these activities was encouraged and added additional brainpower to working through what were new techniques for many of the participants.
Wide range of information covered from anatomy, mount making decision process, nice bibliography, Patterns of History, and research. Additive and subtractive constructions, as well as other rigid subforms, finishing techniques, plus, hands, legs, and stands, hair, and mount attachment methods were discussed.
There are times when the literature and the lecture becomes significantly clearer after hands-on opportunities are completed. Participants were asked to bring a garment to use for a hands-on session. Hands-on sessions were possible thanks to tool kits provided which eliminated the need for participants to bring sharp, cutting, heating, and large sized tools that may have been very difficult for travel. Hands-on sessions included: Measuring Costumes, Flat Form Mannequin, and Ethafoam Mannequin via LaRouche/Peacock Combination Method.
An extra bonus included a history of undergarments. With time running out Helen encouraged those of us still to stay for a quick casting and molding exercise using alginate and plaster.
Fun Factor: (Scale 1-5; 1=zero fun through 5=best fun ever, involves good cake)
Fun Factor Rating: 4, even without cake! Met new people. Able to share potential mount techniques.
Recommendation: Sign-up if you have the opportunity. Go for a full workshop/course of longer duration (week or longer). It is worth the time.
Tip: Provide an experience gauge for participants in workshop announcement. Way too much info and hands-on activity to cram into 6 hours, make it 7 hours. We used the time to our best advantage but ran-over by 45 minutes and left out some hands-on activities.