Care of Stained Glass class photo

Conservation Refresher Courses

Since the refresher course program began in the 1990’s, the Center has concentrated on providing intensive, hands-on workshops regarding conservation treatment or analytical techniques, with one or two instructors and a maximum of up to 12 participants. While the Center will continue to offer these smaller, hands-on workshops, over the next few years the Center will also be offering a number of conservation level seminars dealing with materials and media. These courses are intended as an update for conservators, and enrollment in the refresher course is limited to those with training and experience in the conservation of art and artifacts. Instructors are the final arbiters of whether prerequisites have been met.

Scholarships may be available through Pomerantz and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. For more information on scholarships go to:

scholarships page



Book Repair Techniques for Special Collections

Deacidification and Washing of Paper Artifacts


Book Repair Techniques for Special Collections

Instructor: Olivia Primanis

Date: July 16-19, 2014

Cost: Tuition and Materials Fee: $1000

During this workshop participants will practice conservation techniques for mending structures of original and early bindings. Methods for identifying structures, assessing deterioration and choosing repair techniques will be discussed. Problems that can arise from the repair of original structures and materials will be examined. Participants should bring cloth and leather books needing repair, preferably no later than early 20th century.

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Traditional Gilding
Instructor: Huber Baija

Date: Offered again in 2015


The focus of this course is on traditional gilding techniques. You will become familiar with one of the oldest crafts in the world, originating 4,500 years ago in ancient Egypt, which is still practiced today. Through presentations, demonstrations and hands-on practicum the participants will develop understanding of the basic gilding skills. In this class you will prepare your own mock-up frames and sample boards in different leafing techniques. We will work all the way from the bare wood to the finished product, including ornaments and special techniques for finishing and aging. This course will also offer a first orientation in the history of styles in picture frames. Topics included in this class are: a historical overview of traditional gilding materials, techniques and tools; surface preparation and the planned application glue, gesso, bole and size; gesso texturing and re-cutting; oil gilding and water gilding; application of gold, silver and metal leaf; burnishing; matte and gloss finishes; clay mixes and advanced leafing techniques; toning and aging and sealing.

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Deacidification and Washing of Paper Artifacts

Instructors:  Susan Russick and Hal Erickson

Next Date TBD

After a day of chemistry fundamentals, lecture and laboratory sessions will provide mid-career conservators with both theoretical chemical mechanisms and practical experience related to washing and deacidifying paper artifacts.  The course will focus on the topics of pH, water purity, a comparision of neutralizing and deacidifying chemicals (with emphasis of calcium hydroxide, magnesium, bicarbonate, and ammonium hydroxide); issues associated with washing iron gall inks; anticipated results of aqueous deacidifcation methods; and discussion of non-aqueous and mass deacidification methods. 

Participants will get hands-on experience washing and deacdifying sample materials using a variety of methods.

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How to Build Low-Cost Conservation Lab Equipment

Instructor: Laurence Siegler

Date: July 28-31, 2014

Cost: Tuition and Materials Fee: $995

In this workshop you will learn how to build your own conservation lab equipment from common materials that can be purchased at local home improvement stores.  The class will work together to learn step-by step how to build a suction table.  Options for building other equipment will also be discussed.  The workshop will include a field trip to a home improvement store to learn first-hand about the materials available for various projects.

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Introduction to Organic Chemistry
Instructor: Sheila Fairbrass-Siegler

Next Day TBD

If you have forgotten the alkane series, are at a loss over functional groups and completely confused about acids and bases, then this course will gently guide you through the fundamentals of organic chemistry. The six day course is divided into morning lectures and discussion and afternoon practical, hands-on labs. Topics will include bonding and structure, functional groups, acids and bases, polymers, paper chemistry and textile chemistry.

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Parchment Conservation

Instructor: Sheila Fairbrass-Siegler

Date: July 23-26, 2014

Cost: Tuition and Materials Fee: $970

The course will provide an introduction to parchment, its manufacture and use, and some of the techniques involved in its conservation and care. It will be useful for anyone involved in its conservation or who has parchment or parchment artifacts in their collection. The course will consist of morning lectures and afternoon experiments where participants can explore techniques in the controlled environment of the laboratory.

Course topic will include: the identification of parchment; history and manufacture; examination; surface preparation; cleaning, flattening, and repairing; materials and adhesives; techniques; and housing options.

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Mastering Inpainting
Instructor: James Bernstein

Date: Offered Next in 2015

Cost: Tuition and Materials Fee:

Now in its 19th year, there is no other course that compares with this special, four-day intensive. It is tailored for conservators from diverse specializations who wish to improve their mastery of inpainting and filling skills. An extensive overview of this complicated topic is given, as well as considerable attention to detail critical for successful compensation.  Colleagues will work closely with one anther, sharing experiences and observations as they have fun experimenting with a vast array of compensation materials.  They will be guided through problem assessment, enabling discovery of improved, appropriate treatment solutions for various inpainting challenges.

Lecture, discussion and studio sessions will encompass: inpainting criteria; environmental adaptation; light and color phenomena; pigments and their properties; preparation and fills; wet/dry inpainting media and toning systems (synthetic resins, watercolor/gouache, gums, pencils/pastels, dry pigments, dyes and other coloring agents); inpaint modifiers (bulking, glossing, matting, polishing agents); medium/pigment/diluent adjustments for differing artifact structures, application instrumentation, methods and tips; and discourse upon philosophical/ethical considerations.


Selection of participants will be based upon: extent of professional experience and training; balance of institutional and private practice conservators; number of registrants from a single organization; balance of areas of specialization within conservation (paintings, paper, objects, etc.) and date of application filing.  Attendance demand for this highly regarded course is typically strong, so early planning and applications are recommended.

Applicants must send resume and receive instructor approval to be admitted into this workshop.

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Microscopy for the Identification of Pigments and Fibers in Art and Artifacts
Instructor: Gary Laughlin

Date: June 23-27, 2014 Last day ends at noon

Cost: Tuition and Materials Fee: $1150

"In this course, students will learn the necessary skills for the visual characterization and identification of artists' materials by polarized light microscopy (PLM).  The emphasis will be on the proper use of the microscope for the analysis of common paint pigments, textile fibers, and rock-forming minerals. Students will also learn sampling procedures and the use of flowcharts and keys to determine a positive identity for a wide variety of modern and historic materials. This one-week course is intended for amateur or professional conservators, art historians, and materials science enthusiasts. No prior microscopy experience is necessary."

The course is based on lectures, demonstrations, and laboratory practice. Each student learns each technique by hearing about it, watching it being done, and then doing it. Video is used extensively for macro- and micro-projection in both lecture and demonstrations. Each student is assigned a polarized light microscope and all necessary accessories, reagents, and text materials.

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Gilding Conservation

Instructor: Hubert Baija

Date: June 11-14, 2014

Cost: Tuition and Materials Fees: $1575

Prerequisite: Tradional Gilding or Instructor Approval

During this workshop we will explore the conservation and restoration of gilded and polychrome wooden objects. The participants are invited to bring a small project for analysis and hands-on experience, for example a picture frame, a statue, or a decorative carving. Ethical and technical aspects of specific conservation choices will be discussed. We will address the use of modern restoration materials on artifacts made with traditional techniques, with the aim to preserve as much original finish as possible, and to intervene in the most reversible ways, if at all. While Gilding Conservation builds on the understanding of traditional techniques taught in the Traditional Gilding course, this understanding is applied within the wider scope of conservation, in which every art object is respected as a unique source of information. In addition to practical work this class offers presentations on case studies in art historical context. Topics include: original finishes and later interventions; visual examination of gilded and polychrome surfaces and stereo microscopy; the role of cross sections; defining the aim of a possible treatment; agreeing with owners, clients or institutions on the treatment approach; documentation, condition reports and restoration reports; selecting specific materials and methods; consolidating gesso, gilding and polychromy; cleaning (balancing the ‘remedy and the disease’); reconstructing ornaments and surface textures; retouching; in-gilding ; integrating of repairs into the original. There will also be a further orientation in the history of picture frames and styles of ornamentation.

Participants should bring their favorite hand tools, brushes, work clothes, writing material, a camera and an object to work on. Materials are included in the tuition.  Please inform the instructor beforehand of your project, for example with a photograph or a short description. Campbell Center, including the instructor, does not bear responsibility for items which participants bring to the course.

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Revealing Lost Content: Low-Tech Digital Forensics for the Bench Conservator

Instructor: Hal Erickson

High-end forensics for the recovery of lost or obscured content can be an expensive proposition and may simply be an unaffordable luxury in many cases.  When we observe evidence of such content, it is seldom immediately clear what degree of effort should be made in order to visualize it.  Certain easy and inexpensive nondestructive forensic techniques can go a long way towards revealing the lost or obscured content, allowing owners, curators and/or institutional decision makers to better judge whether to invest more money and effort in further recovery efforts.  These techniques are also useful during field surveys or in other on-site situations requiring a recommendation based on a quick examination, and can in many cases even be performed using nothing more than a pocket camera, common photographic filters and a laptop.  In many cases, these “first-pass” forensic techniques may even be all that is needed to fully visualize the lost or obscured content.  Indeed, it can be argued that these techniques should be a standard part of the pre- and post-treatment photodocumentation of many – if not most – treatments of manuscript materials and works of art on paper, if only to reassure future users that no obvious evidence of lost or obscured content was compromised by a treatment.  Among the cases of obvious concern are: palimpsests (on parchment, vellum, papyrus, exotica);authorial erasures or fraudulent alterations;washed-away, delaminated, faded, bleached or otherwise lost content;content obscured by paste-downs;content on obscured binding materials (e.g. palimpsestic content on signature guards); marginal annotations, evidence of provenance, inter alia erased by dealers or previous owners.

The course will cover nondestructive low-tech methods for the visualization of lost or obscured content, and will allow attendees to practice these techniques using their own laptop and/or camera if brought to the course.  Both 1) techniques for image optimization and 2) digital algorithms for feature extraction from digital images/scans will be covered.  Some techniques are more conveniently performed within Photoshop, but we will also cover how to perform the techniques using freeware such as the National Institutes of Health-sponsored cross-platform software ImageJ.

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Using Pre-Coated Repair Material

Instructor: Sarah Reidell

Date: October 2-4, 2014

Cost: Tuition and Materials Fees: $995

Prerequisite: Open to trained conservators and advanced techicians; instructor approval required

This workshop is a practical hands-on workshop for conservators and advanced technicians who are interested in learning more about the selection, creation, and use of pre-coated repair materials. Pre-coated repairs are being used by conservators in libraries, archives, museums, regional conservation centers, and private practice.  They are used in circulating library collections and also in special collections.  They are applied in batch treatments and large scanning projects, and also in high-end, single-item treatment when there are particular characteristics that can’t be achieved with traditional mending techniques.

 Adhesives used to create pre-coated repairs can include cellulose ethers (Klucel G, sodium carboxy methyl cellulose, and methyl cellulose), wheat starch paste, fish-derived isinglass, and synthetics such as Lascaux, Rhoplex, Texicryl, Aquazol, PVA, and BEVA.  You can pre-coat repair sheets like ultra-thin kozo-fibered papers or goldbeater’s skin, as well as synthetic sheets such as Tyvek, Mylar, or Hollytex. The dried adhesive is “reactivated,” with liquids such as water or solvents or with heat from a tacking iron. The workshop grew from presentations at the Archives Conservation and Library Collections Conservation discussion group Book and Paper Group Session of the American Institute for Conservation annual meeting in 2009. The presentations summarized the adhesives, preparation guidelines, and reactivation method of different materials as practiced by dozens of book and paper conservators who responded to a 2009 Conservation DistList survey administered by the workshop instructor and her co-developer Priscilla Anderson. A description of the presentation is available in the Book and Paper Group Annual, Volume 28 (2009) on pp.99-101, 109, 112.   The most striking advantages of this method are that depending on the technique little or no moisture comes into contact with the original object, the repairs are applied and dried quickly, and since you can prepare them yourself, you can customize the adhesive, the repair sheet, and the color to match the needs of your original.  While very useful for many aspects of treatment, selecting and utilizing pre-coated repairs in treatments is subjective and they are not always the best choice for a given treatment. This course will help you to gain the hands-on experience to know when and how to select and use pre-coated materials for your book, paper, and parchment treatments. The course will include: short lecture presentations on key concepts; an overview of selection criteria; instructor-led demonstrations; collaborative group and individual discovery exercises; and group discussion to share experimental results and evaluate findings. Using materials prepared before and during the course, you will experiment with different material types, creation techniques, and reactivation methods on sample items (your own* or provided) in the laboratory environment to create a take-home sample set that can aid your conservation practice.

*Please do not bring collection items to experiment on, only deaccessioned or sample materials.

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