Applied Optical Microscopy Calendar 2002

March 11 – 15. Microscopy of Protective and Decorative Coatings
Mel Wachowiak [wachowiakm@si.edu]

This course will focus on the practical techniques for characterization of paint and varnish systems. While the equipment and techniques will be discussed extensively, a large portion of the course will be spent in practical laboratory exercises. Topics will include:

sample preparation: this is the most critical factor influencing the quality of microscopy, therefore, materials and methods of preparation for reproducible, high-quality, cost- and time-efficient mounts will be covered. Attendees will receive molds, resins and other supplies.

the stereomicroscope: this under-utilized tool will be profiled as a critical part of microanalysis and documentation schemes; common and novel uses of this tool will be covered.

light microscopy techniques: brightfield, darkfield, fluorescence, transmitted light, and combined methods will be discussed and used.

documentation: photographic techniques, including film formats and selection criteria, video, and digital techniques will be covered.

design of studio space for microscopy, ergonomics, specifying and purchasing microscope, and other topics will be addressed as time permits

The course is intended for the conservator, museum scientist, or other professional with some experience in this area. Attendees will be encouraged to participate fully in dialog during lecture, and discuss their experiences in microscopy. Attendees are encouraged to bring samples from their practice, and consider bringing their own microscopes to the course. Advice on maximizing, or modifying, your microscope can be given during the course. There will be ample time for open lab to prepare and examine your samples.

Equipment available: a range of stereomicroscopes and laboratory-grade microscopes will be available, including those equipped for brightfield, darkfield, and fluorescence.

April 8 – 12. Practical Wood Anatomy in a Museum Environment
Harry A. Alden

This course provides an introduction to wood anatomy of temperate and tropical species and to their macroscopic and microscopic identification. Emphasis is placed on real-life applications of analysis of samples from wooden artifacts in museum and archaeological collections in order to identify the materials used and their cultural contexts. Areas covered include sampling, microtechniques, character identification and identification of unknown woods (including charcoal) using reference sets, dichotomous keys and computer applications. Participants are welcome to bring an object for analysis.

July 8 – 12. Polarized Light Microscopy - Fundamentals and Applications
Jan Hinsch (Leica Microsystems, Inc.)
Harry A. Alden
Mel Wachowiak [wachowiakm@si.edu]

This course furnishes an in-depth look at the fundamentals of polarized light microscopy and applications for those in museum and/or archaeological fields. It includes principles (wave nature of light, isotropy, anisotropy and optical activity), mechanics and use of polarizing microscopes, sample preparation, orthoscopy and special methods. This course will provide the practical application of polarized light microscopy towards the identification of natural fibers and artist’s pigments.

Please contact Ms. Francine Lewis for general information, and class instructors for specific information about each class.