First in Your Head

Late last night I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia to present to the Society of American Period Furniture Makers Peach State Chapter for four days. I was hired to come out to talk about and demonstrate furniture conservation theory and practice. Saturday and Sunday have been reserved for lecture while Monday and Tuesday will be lab time. Today’s presentations went well and mostly according to plan. I talked about the history of the conservation discipline, definitions of restoration and conservation and basic conservation principals. The principals were then worked out by showing how shellac can be manipulated and worked to facilitate long term finish survival. I demonstrated some of this on pieces in need of a little TLC that a few of the attendees brought.

Tomorrow we’ll be discussing how to know what the “right” thing to do is in any given project because, in truth, a major part of conservation work happens not in your hands but first in your head. Learning to think carefully about how our values ought to inform the preservation of material culture is essential before you pick up that brush or steel wool. We’ll work our way through the day demonstrating various repair techniques, discussing whatever comes up in the treatment process.

Then Monday and Tuesday it’s their turn. Should be good fun. But for now, I continue to wait for my lost luggage to arrive. I don’t think I can wear the same shirt a third day in a row.

- Joshua


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