Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Spring Schedule

The 2010 spring semester at College of the Redwoods starts January 19th and the class schedule is out. The Historic preservation and restoration technology program is offering several classes that are sure to be interesting, informative and fun. You can register by visiting, or visiting or calling CR at 707-476-4353. For more information about classes call program head, Bill Hole, at 707 476-4353 or email him at Also check out class photos at picasa, the link is under events.

Here are the classes.

E5560 CT2 Material Sciences: Wood (2 units) Tues/Thurs 8:30-12:00 Bill Hole AT109
short term class: 1/19-3/11

T5561 CT3 Material Sciences: Masonry/plaster (2 units) Sat. 8:30-4 Peter Santino Downtown Eureka short term class: 03/23-05/13

E5562 CT8 Material Sciences: Casting and Mold Making (2 units) Tues/Thurs 8:30-12:00 Bill Hole AT 109 short term class: 3/23-5/13

T5564 CT13 Historic Building Analysis (3 units) Monday 6:00-9:20 PM Bill Hole Downtown Eureka

T5563 CT 14 Adv. Field Techniques, lab (2 units) Tues/Thurs 1-5:30 Bill Hole Downtown Eureka

T5565 CT15 Field Techniques/Historic Preservation (3 units) Tues/Thurs Bill Hold Downtown Eureka

E5565 CT 16 Architectural Millwork (3 units) Tues/Thurs 6-9:45 pm Dane Cowan AT 109

T5568 CT 17 Adv. Material sciences, lab (2 units) Sat. 8:30-4 Peter Santino Downtown short term class 3/23-5/13

E6198 CT17 Adv. Material Scieices, lab (2 units) Tues/Thurs 8:30-12:00 Bill Hole Downtown short term class: 01/19-03/11 or 3/23-5/13

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shellac Attack

The lac resin has been known since 1500 BC, and it is the only resin of animal origin. The lac (Tachardia lacca) are tiny insects that swarm and live off of host trees in India. They suck sap into the their bodies and excrete a resinous substance through their pores to form a crust on the twigs and branches. The crude lac (or sticklac) is scraped off the trees then dried, crushed, sifted and sorted. Traditionally this process was done by hand, but now can done by machine. When the lac is done being processed it is in flake form, as pictured above. To make shellac, the flakes are dissolved in alcohol. Today you can still buy shellac flakes at specialty store or buy premade shellac at any hardware store.

Shellac (handmade) is all natural and has been utilised for the manufacturing of many products including paint and varnish, a glaze for fruit, coffee beans and nuts, a coating for tablets, as a leather dressing, a sealing wax, as a printing ink, in cosmetics, in confections, as food coloring and polishes. Since shellac has been around for so long, it is found in many historic structures and furniture. Shellac is also best for inside surfaces, and is used in many fine finishing techniques, including french polish.

To test to see if a surface is in fact shellac, dab a small portion of it with denatured alcohol, which is the solvent for shellac. If the surface becomes tacky, it is most probably shellac.

More Graining

Above are the pocket doors that we learned the graining technique on at the Annie B. House. We scraped and sanded off as much paint as we could before applying an oil based white primer.
In the background, you can see we have applied an oil based ground to the door. This can be bought at the store and used as is, or you can fine tune using dry pigment and artist oils. We added paint thinner to ours to increase the amount of time we could work with it. It is important to make this surface look homogeneous because it will be seen through the glaze, which is the next step. In the foreground, our teacher Peter is testing the glaze. The glaze too can be bought at the paint store, it also can be fine tuned and thinned to give more time to play. On these doors we are trying to replicate redwood, so we have a warm reddish brown as the ground. The glaze is transparent, but darker. Two colors important to perfecting a wood color are burnt umber and burnt sienna.

Here, Peter is applying the glaze. It is best to do a smaller section at one time, so you can work on your grain technique in one place and not worry about the glaze drying somewhere else. Peter suggests paying attention to the construction of the door, so graining is done in the correct directions.

Peter is using steel wool to apply a texture to the glaze. There are many different tools one can use for an array of effects. We used were steel and plastic combs of different sizes and shapes. Also in the tool bag were rubber rollers with wood textures and various brushes. Brushes can be used to lightly go over work in order to soften the grain's look.

Here are the pockets doors partially grained with different techniques and done by the students in the interior material class. We left some undone for comparison.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Little Pieces of History

The Annie B. Ryan house is our field school. Currently we have an interior surface materials class here in which we are learning about various materials and techniques, mainly lath and plaster repair, shellac and graining (see our previous post!). Here are some neat up close and personal pics of the Annie. B...

Annie B. plans atop decades of wall paper...most recently, someone was a fan of aqua shades. On the left is the old ironing board.

Corner block. We learn to recreate these in our architectural millworking class.

Redwood lath and plaster (see the sand and horsehair?!)

An Alice In Wonderland inspired shot of the front door.

This is a picture of a door molding in one of the back rooms. It's hard to tell what the original color was, but right now it's definitely pink with a little mildew!

Check back soon for a more detailed history of the Annie B. Ryan house.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Graining-photos are not real wood grain! They are paint!

Today we learned about "graining" in our interior surface materials class. Graining (and its stone equivalent, "marbleizing") imitates wood or marble on a surface. Sometimes, rather than stripping and refinishing a surface, it is more practical to grain. This is an art that was historically in great demand, now it must be consciously passed on. Graining consists of laying a ground color of primer and then tracing the pattern of wood grain in other colors with special tools. Tools include steel combs, rubber and leather combs, brushes, sponges, clean cotton and rollers. There are different ground and glazing colors for different types of woods. Above are some photos of graining done by Peter Santino.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nice to meet ya

This is the first posting of a group of students in the Historic Restoration and Preservation Technology Program at College of the Redwoods, based in Eureka, California. We are creating this blog as a place to have and discuss information on topics in the field. We will show you what we are up to, techniques we are putting into practice and resources we'd like to share. We hope also to include little stories of interesting histories, places and people that are relevant to historic restoration, preservation and sustainability. Check back with us soon.