Acrylic Application for Heritage Plaster

Acrylic Application for Heritage Plaster

Conservation repairs on heritage buildings come with technical challenges, in part due to mistaken notions about process. Too many in the business are willing to cut corners or adhere to rigid procedure in order to streamline costs. The problem is, doing this often makes a project more expensive, and these extra costs are passed on to the client.

It is understandable, therefore, that public perception of preservation projects is that they are too costly to justify the work. This is compounded by the fact that heritage buildings are slowly disappearing, especially in the West, and that many do not understand the importance of conservation. Thus, clients need to be educated.

A design-driven process works beautifully with a new project but not in preservation, as a design-driven process requires imposing pre-conceived ideas on the job at hand. With conservation, that is the last thing you want. An open mind and adaptive process are crucial. Where the goal is to preserve, respect for the existing structure must be a starting point in investigating every aspect. Iconoplast painstakingly goes through every detail to understand what is there and how every element is related. A failure to do so can end up with considerable errors.

Structures and buildings that last bring beauty and history to our worlds and in some cases come with spiritual significance. In today’s rapidly-changing world, we cannot lose the value of legacy or honor for the past and for tradition.

Our Process

To accomplish our means we use the methodology pioneered by Morgan Philips in the 1970s: the use of acrylics in plaster conservation to complete application, a standard for repair that still exists today. Our HPCS process is a sequence of steps that involve consolidation and reattachment procedures for delaminated and friable plaster on wood lath, including recreation of missing plaster keys, using acrylics. The steps we follow:

1. Inspection

Our inspection includes documentation of each object to grasp its origin, the creator’s intent and factorsthat contributed to its deterioration. When damages might have occurred can also be relevant. But most often the source is linked to previous faulty or superficial repairs that simply covered the underlying problem. Once we’ve identified this, we develop a treatment method, sketching measurements and data toreveal details a photograph cannot. It is a thorough process that requires close scrutiny of every nuance!

2. Disassembly

The process itself here is revealing. If any further damage exists it will show here, as the process requires slowing down considerably. Careful documentation enables fitting it all back together.

3. Design of an overall conservation approach

We determine the best way forward for stabilization and repair, considering the objects function or purpose. To do this we compare the pros and cons of each method, draw crude pictures to brainstorm, and produce drawings or collages.

4. Testing

Every plan must be tested for compatibility to work out any bugs. As you test you learn and evolve and adapt in finding a viable solution. This is invaluable.

5. Treatment:

As you adapt you gain insight and new perspective. We keep the client in the loop with any changes to scope or cost. In our experience, any changes in cost are not an issue if a client understands wehave their best interest in mind.