Got Old House? A Live Stream Symposium Will Cover Historic Painted Wall Conservation

  • August 06, 2020 16:28

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Alpha Castro uncovering wall motif above dado in private home Portland, Maine.
Tony Castro with Alpha Castro removing door molding to discover original decoration at Cumston Hall, Monmouth, Maine.

"Conserving Our Painted Past" Live Stream Symposium

Oct. 26-28, 2020, 1:00 pm-4:30 pm


Distemper paint on historic painted plaster is fragile and can be damaged in a variety of ways. Vulnerable to moisture, it dissolves when wet. When dry, the surface of distemper paint is susceptible to surface abrasion when rubbed and is easily scratched. Occasionally, fragile 200-year-old paint will separate from the wall for no apparent reason. In other situations, the structural stability of the wall itself—usually composed of lath and plaster—is compromised and the act of stabilizing the wall may damage the paint. Often window or door moldings have to be removed. Paint flaking definitely has to be stopped. Missing painted decoration has to be restored. Conservator Tony Castor will share materials and techniques he and his company use in adhering loose plaster on ceilings and walls. He will also discuss to consolidate flaking and chalking decorative painted surfaces. For more than 25 years Tony Castro and Company have been restoring walls and ceilings of some  of Maine’s finest historical buildings.  

Tony Castro replicating missing area of trompe l'oeil decoration in private home Yarmouth, Maine.

In another painted wall issue, an owner will tire of the painted wall decoration and will apply wallpaper over it. In addition, some owners have tried a variety of methods, some of which have been harmful to the paint, to “protect” the walls. These are only a few of the situations the conservators and restorers will be discussing during the livestream presentations. Old paper glues are a water-based material that have varying effects on a mural. If a wheat-based glue were used, it will often remove the top layer of paint when the paper is removed. The removal process calls for water to dissolve the glue. It is important to know that this moisture will damage the walls if not applied properly. At its best this is a difficult and tedious process, but it can be done successfully. You will learn how this is done and you will learn about a new technology being used that is able to ‘see through’ wallpaper. Museum consultant, Ron Kley, will offer that a simple and affordable application of thermal imaging technology offers possibilities for identifying painted designs hidden beneath wallpaper. Kley, Co-Director of Museum Research Associates, has been involved with inventorying, cataloguing and interpreting assessments of museum collections for well over 25 years.

The Center for the Preservation of Painted Wall Preservation sponsor of the livestream Symposium, is a 501©(3) not for profit organization. For further information about the organization and the Symposium, please go to the website.


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