Thursday, December 2, 2010

Farnsworth House

This fall I got the chance to visit one of America’s most influential modern, historic homes, the Farnsworth House. The Farnsworth house is Located in Plano, Illinois about 60 miles west of Chicago. The structure was design by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a famous Architect of the modern movement and Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. By the time the residence was finished in 1951, Mies Van der Rohe had an incredible stormy relationship with its owner Dr. Edith Farnsworth. It was said that she was cynical about the architect’s brilliance and annoyed by his eccentric, sometimes arrogant ways. The pair was entangled in legal affairs for many years after the completion of the house. Regardless of all this, the site and home itself is inspiring to see. I arvisited on a perfect, warm fall day. Folks in canoes floated by on the near-by Fox River.

The concept of the house was to be as simple as possible. It was for one person and designed for weekends only. It is made primarily of glass, steel, concrete and travertine. The house is sleek and appears to be light as air, when in fact is incredible heavy and pinned to the ground.

The building has been survived several floods and restoration, and was bought in 2003 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Landmarks Illinois. It is visited April through November by thousands of students, architecture lovers and Mies van der Rohe admirers from around the world. You can read more about it in last months Preservation magazine, where they cover sixteen of the trust properties. More can also be seen at the offical website

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pierson's Building Center

   Club members spent a Saturday outside Pierson's spreading the word about Historic Preservation and Restoration of homes and buildings. We were competing for attention with the Salvation Army bell ringer, next time we need to bring a bell.
   Our goal was to spread awareness of this unique program. Samples of student projects were on display (cast and mold making, stained glass, architectural millwork and more) as well as complimentary DVD's describing the program in finer detail. We had cookies for sale and raffle tickets for a complimentary luncheon at the Ingomar Club.
Stained glass demonstration
Photo board with recent projects displayed.
Window glazing demonstration.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Times Standard Article

Humboldt County partners with CR,
CCC to offer free green building training
The Times-Standard Posted: 11/22/2010 01:15:08 AM PST

Humboldt County, in partnership with College of the Redwoods and the California Conservation Corps, will provide free training and hands-on experience in the green building profession for young adults.

The county recently received California Clean Energy workforce training grants, in which CR is a partner and is providing much of the training for the grants, according to a CR press release. The deadline to apply is Dec. 17.

The 13-week program is focused on disadvantaged persons ages 18-24 and provides green building classes and a paid work experience with the California Conservation Corps. The students will take part in the CCC training class beginning Jan. 24. in Eureka and perform hands-on work in the CR Construction Technology class, CT-15 Field Techniques for Historic Preservation, starting Jan. 31.

There will be job placement assistance upon completion of the program. Free housing may be available in the CR dormitories on the main Eureka campus for those who live outside the Eureka area.

This program can serve residents of Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.

Participants will also be given the opportunity to develop workforce entry skills at the Eureka Adult School.

For more information or an application, call StepUp Program Coordinator Laura Chancellor at The Job Market, 445-6226.

HPR Club secretary Greg Deangelis (white hardhat) assists CCC students, Dan and Tim (foreground) in removing three generations of roofing at the Annie B. Ryan field school.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stripping Paint

We all know that paint on old houses probably contains lead. Windows are often difficult to open or have been painted shut. We had a lecture on safely removing paint in the course CT-17 Material Science: Glass. I have taken this information and also tips from Bill's window Restoration Workshop and experimented on windows from my own house to fully develop a safe way to remove paint.

The most important thing to remember is that lead paint is most dangerous in its dry, air born, dusty form. So keep it wet. How? With steam. Jiffy Steamer makes a professional steamer that holds more water than the personal steamers so that you don't have to refill as often. As your drycleaner knows, steam is the gentlest, safest, most efficient method to remove wrinkles from fabrics. Steam also softens paint and glazing putty and swells the wood so that paint and putty can easily and safely be removed from wood with a putty knife or scraper.
Steam box made with inch and a half rigid insulation.

Custom shaped scrapers can be ground to match the profile of the window. With a heat gun leading the way paint comes off in a soft pliable form and the shape of the profile is unaltered. Whatever paint didn't come off after steaming can be removed safely with a heat gun. HEPA filters are suggested when working around suspicious materials.

Lead paint is not something to take lightly. Precautions such as wearing a Tyvek suit, nitril gloves and a HEPA filter particle mask is highly recommended. Disposal of hazardous materials is important, double bag the waste and deliver it to you local hazardous waste dumping sight. In Eureka, CA there is a 15 gallon limit per visit, open on Friday and Saturday 9 am to 1 pm.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Traditional Building Conference: Part II

So an important fact I forgot to say last post was this years Traditional Building Conference was themed Growing Green: Traditional Building and Sustainable Development. The last day of the conference I went to a great lecture By Aaron Lubeck, author if Green Restorations:Sustainable Building in Historic Homes. Aaron lives and work on historic homes in Durham North Carolina. He was refreshingly honest, funny and not an architect. His book is hands-on and discusses the convergence of America's conservation movements, historic preservation and green building.
Overall I think that the Traditional Building Conference was a success. Thanks to Bill and PTN for thinking of me to represent them and my friend Jeff for helping me at the booth.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Traditional Building Conference

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois! I guess I can say I am the Midwest correspondent for preserve and restore now. Today I have been working a booth for The Preservation Trades Network , at the annual Traditional Building Conference.

PTN is a non for profit membership organization founded to provide education, networking and outreach for the traditional building trades. PTN works with North American and international partners to provide educational resources, events and workshops that build opportunities for collaboration, and exchange of skills and knowledge. PTN is well known in the preservation field and I was fortunate to talk to a lot of interesting people at this conference. Besides working the exhibition hall, I also got to attend some lectures. One seminar I enjoyed in particular was transforming the past to save the future, presented by Tom Liebel, an architect from Baltimore. Liebel discussed an adaptive reuse of an old factory building. This project was a perfect mix of preservation, sustainability and establishing community. Check out Miller’s court, I was inspired, and they worked on a tight budget.

More to come soon, including day two of the conference and my recent trip to a historic Mies van der Rohe.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blue Ox Millwork

Blue Ox has one of the largest collections of human powered tools.
Here is the Barnes Velocipede #2 (1886), This is probably the most efficient scroll saw ever built.

Blue Ox is a custom shop specializing in Victorian architectural details and historic reproductions. Blue Ox manufactures everything from hand carved newels to custom wood windows, from 24 foot columns, to custom redwood gutters, gable decorations, siding, corbels, moulding, and more. They will help make your ideas a reality.

Ornamental iron work is produced in the blacksmith shop as well as hardware such as nails and bolts. Items necessary for repairs of our antique machinery are made in the blacksmith shop and machine shop.

Ceramics, Boat Building, Shingle Milling, a Working Print Shop and more.

These antique printing presses are still used by the students to print their yearbooks. Tourists can peak into the shop, see drawers of antique type and paper cutters so large that they can cut through stacks of phone books. If they are lucky they might even see the 1890's press in operation.

All of this plus they are a School of Traditional Arts. At Blue Ox School, students get a regular high school curriculum with a full component of hands-on projects and creative learning opportunities. Blue Ox students earn their high school diploma while participating in a family environment, creating original works of art, building feelings of self-accomplishment, and learning valuable skills that will be of use to them in all walks of life.

Visit Blue Ox today and step into the past. Where Even the Run of the Mill is Extraordinary

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Field Trip

The Material Science: Glass class (CT-7) went on a field trip and visited two local business. First we met at Fire and Light who specializes in cast recycled glass to create one of a kind glasses, bowls, plates, vases and other items. 90 to 93% of the glass is recycled from local homes and businesses.

150 pounds of clear glass is heated to 2450˚ then poured into graphite molds one piece at a time. After the glass cools (about a minute) it is placed in an annealing oven (lehr) set to 900˚ and the pieces slowly cools to 90˚.

Don't miss Fire and Lights second sale on October 16 and 17, 2010 at the Arcata Community Center.

Next was a visit to Hilliard Lamps, specializing in foiled and fused glass with cast bronze components

Silica Bronze ingots are heated to 2050˚ and poured into a flask, the top half called the cope and the bottom half is the drag.

Glass is cut into very small pieces and then wrapped with copper foil. Once the pieces have been placed they are soldered together.

For more pictures you can click on the Hilliard pics or Fire and Light pics.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reparing old windows

Many publications and websites have been making the case for repairing or restoring old windows, instead or buying new ones. Many agree that repairing old windows saves not only resources but also money. According to the newsletter Real Green , many homes build before the 1980's have single paned wood windows, which can be repaired to seal as tightly as new vinyl or aluminum windows. Replacement window can be $200-$1,000 dollars per window before labor, while restoration general ranges around $300-$400 dollars per window with labor. (source:
Parts of a double hung window- from The Old House Journal
Old wood windows can last another 100 years with proper maintenance. One other hand most replacement window last 15-20 year and are often made of toxic and unrecyclable materials.

So how do you do it? First, the window will need to be removed, all the paint should be stripped, all cracks and rot should be addressed with epoxy or new wood, new sash cord, lock repair, reglazing, new glass (if needed) and repainting and reinstillation. Check out Historic Homeworks (http://www.historichomeworks/.) for step by step instructions, or search the National Trust for Historic Preservation website for wood window to get a tip sheet.

Here a student in the field school is removing paint from a window.

New wood, or a Dutchmen, is glued in to replace rotted wood.

It is also recommended to weatherstrip your window. Which is basically adding strips of insulating material s to gaps in the widow to seal leaks, this should be done when the window is taken apart. Hardware stores should have everything need for weather stripping, but also try Architectural Resource Center.
Other resources for the repair of old windows:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Making cutters for molding

Old molding, like in the picture below, can get full of old paint, gouged and ruined over time. If a piece it not salvageable, it is a possibility to remake the molding. Some special equipment is needed, but if you have access to a shop it is fairy easy to replicated molding.

The first step is to make a custom knife. Get high speed planer steel, usually ordered from a machine supply company like Belsaw.

Draw, in permanent ink, the contours of the molding on the steel .Next using a grinder, with a thin cutting wheel, make relief cuts into the steel to help make cutting away excess steel easy.
After you have removed the excess steel, use a wide grinding wheel to start moving toward the lines you drew on the steel. Make sure to keep your steel against the stop at a 45 degree angle, in order to create a sharp cutting edge. The blade will get very hot, so have a bucket of water next to you to dunk the cutter in often.

Here you see the cutter's edge bevels downwards to make a sharpen cutting surface.

Check back often with the original molding to make sure you are staying on course and not cutting too wide or deep. Once knife is done, it is set up in a molding planer , which is a planer that takes custom blades. Be sure to read and follow instructions for that specific planer, because most are different and have compacted balancing system. Next test the blade, line up a scrap board (set up some kind of guide) then test. Once you have the kinks straighten out , send your good board through the planer.

The result is custom molding identical to your old molding and made by you. After the grinding of the knife and set up of the machine, it is easy to make multiples.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

picture of the day

Barns, like this one, are prevalent through-out Humboldt County. However many are in disrepair. They are beautiful structure that hold an abundance of history and culture. Many times the heritage of the farmer, along with the purpose of the barn, dictated the style or materials used. There are many regional groups that are dedicated to saving barns, you can usually find these groups by contacting your local historic society. Also there are many companies popping up that dismantle barns and reclaim the wood. Here is one resources .

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


One of the tricks that we learned this year, while working on removing many layers of paint from molding, was custom scrapers. You can take an ordinary paint scraper found at any hardware store and draw on to it the contours of your molding. Then, using a grinder, cut away the steal, to make the profile of your molding. It comes in very handy with hard to reach places and curves, because the scraper is made to fit exactly in those places. As a result there is less gouging of the wood. In conjunction with a heat gun, this method can save a lot of time.

Using a custom scraper to get in to a concave and over a ridge at the same time.

A scraper for a wide arch.

Wide arch scraper in use my master scrapper, Kay.

Scrapers need to be sharpened and re ground when they lose there shape and effectiveness.

Two students using custom scrapers and heat guns to remove at least 5 layers of paint from historic window casings.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NCPTT Podcasts

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training has podcasts available to download for free. The podcasts cover a wide range of subjects in preservation by leader in the field. One such podcast is with Tracy Nelson who is Director of the Historic Buildings Grant Recovery Program in New Orleans. Tracy discusses sustainability in historic preservation. Here is an link to all podcast, .

Monday, May 24, 2010

What some of our grads are doing now

Here are two letter, addressed to the head of the program Bill Hole, from graduates of the Historic Preservation and Restoration Technology program. Student can either get a sixteen credit certification or two year associates in the program.

Hi Bill,

I hope you are doing well and your program is thriving. Up here the CCC Historic Preservation program is catching on and getting a lot of publicity. Thanks to YOU I'm inspired and feeling really good about this community and I have leadership opportunities popping up. I'm now the vice-chair of Lower Columbia Preservation Society with a great group of dedicated people. The plan is for me to be chair next spring. We'll see. I just gave a PowerPoint presentation on Leadville to our annual meeting which was kinda scary and well-received.

The big news is Lucien has enlisted me to teach a 1-unit workshop on Historic Preservation Techniques: Finish Work. I'm now an adjunct instructor with CCC! Dig it! I've attached my syllabus. If you have any epiphanies I'd love to hear them. We'll do plaster repair work at Lucien's house and wood house patching, trimming and painting at my house, along with building analysis here using Sanborn maps (my house was moved twice and added onto in 1900) and witness marks up the wazoo. Fun! June 5th & 12th are the days and there'll be 14 students. Also, I did raise my business rate to $25/hr., so thanks!

Cheers, Pam

Hi Bill! Who wouldn't miss two redheads who bring sass and baked goods into their life? :) How did the HP&R classes go this semester? Did the students raise enough money to go to New Orleans? (Was it New Orleans or am I misremembering?)

Well I don't know if you've heard but Chandra and I were both promoted to Research Assistant II back in January! (I had only been there six months and have surpassed another research assistant who has been there for almost three years!) The office has been really hectic lately and I've been going out on fieldwork all over the state. Last month I was in Anaheim, then Bakersfield, and I was just in Fort Bragg for a week.

Never in a million years did I think that I would have a job like mine, but I'm excited that I do. I'm so grateful for the HP&R program at CR and for your dedication to the program and the students. I know that the kind of education I received there and Shaker Village internship that I got to experience through your help gave me an edge over other candidates for the job at JRP. I even bet out people who were even in the process of getting their masters! It's all gone by so fast, can you believe I've been here in Sacramento for almost a year?!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Preservation briefs and tech notes

Preservation briefs are specialized instructional booklets to help homeowners, professionals and government agencies properly preserve, rehabilitate and restore historic buildings. First published in 1975, there are currently 47 different briefs that focus on specific preservation method. The briefs are created by the Technical Preservation Services, which is part of the National Park services, and can be purchased or downloaded individual from the TBS website ( http://http// ). Some of the title of the briefs include, conserving energy in historic buildings, the repair of historic windows and preservation of historic ornamental plaster.
In addition to the briefs they also have a series of practical information on traditional practices and techniques called the preservation tech notes. the tech notes are organized by categories, i.e windows, doors and finishes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Govenor's Mansion

The Governor's Mansion located in Sacramento was built in 1877 and housed California's Governors until the 1960s. Since then in has become a State Historic Park and is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Despite all this it is one of the parks in jeopardy of closing because of the state's budget problems. Earlier this year a student from CR who graduated with her certification in HPRT was honored for her work on preserving the mansion. Here is the Times Standard newspaper article with more about the honor.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New photos

We have added many new photos from our trip to New Olreans, our barn dance fundraiser, the field school and our most recent end of the year boat trip. It has been a busy 1st year for the HPR club, check out all we have accomplished and the fun we had doing it. These albums and more are at .

This year sailed by.

John demonstrating proper window caulking in New Orleans.

Another project house in NOLA.

Square dancin' to raise money for our trip.

Students workin on the exterior of the Annie B. Ryan field school house.

HPR club in the news!

Hey... our club was in the newspaper this past Sunday.