FCTP Course of Study
Wood Technology for Furniture Conservation
Specific subject areas include anatomy, identification, physical, mechanical and chemical properties, biodeterioration and control, and other environmental interactions of wood. Knowledge of these factors as they contribute to deterioration allows the prospective conservator to provide advice about and response to the problems. A session on conservation ethics and philosophy is included in this initial course of the sequence.
European, American and some non-Western furniture design, manufacture, and construction will be surveyed to provide connoisseurship and an ability to communicate effectively with curators and other furniture caretakers. Specific emphasis is placed on national and regional variations in design, materials, and construction techniques, in addition to chronology and progression of styles. A research paper and oral/visual presentation are required for this course.
Examination, Analysis, and Documentation of Furniture
The theory and application of examination, documentation, and analysis techniques will be introduced. This includes information obtained from relatively simple techniques as well as sophisticated instrumental methods. Specific areas include photography, documentation reports, microscopy, radiography, and various forms of instrumental analysis modified from other research fields or specifically developed for characterizing museum objects and cultural artifacts.
Survey of Non-Wood Materials for Furniture Conservation
The technology, deterioration, and conservation of various materials will be addressed - including metals, ceramics, glass, leather, plastics, textiles, upholstery, paper, and others. Applied conservation treatment of these materials will be included, providing a basis for effective interaction with specialists in these disciplines.
Adhesives for Furniture Conservation
Subject areas include adhesive theory and technology for wood, a survey of adhesives and their properties, adhesives used in conservation, and treatment of adhesive deterioration or failure. Particular emphasis is placed on delamination, e.g treatment of veneered objects (marquetry, Boulle-work, etc.).
Structural Conservation of Furniture
The causes and treatment of structural deterioration will be surveyed, including damaged joinery, upholstery substructure, carving, and turning. The technology and practice of consolidating degraded structural materials and the ethical concerns of reconstructing and reproducing objects for interpretation or utility will be discussed.
Coatings for Furniture Conservation I, II and III
The history, technology, chemistry, properties, deterioration, and treatment of coating materials and colorants will be studied, along with color theory, finishing techniques, treatment and manipulation of existing coatings. The third coatings course will emphasize painted finishes, e.g. polychrome sculpture, decorated furniture finishes, and consolidating and inpainting surfaces.
Conservation of Gilt Wood
Topics include history and technology of gilding materials and techniques, and the causes and treatment of deterioration. Fabrication and repair of gilding substrates will be emphasized.
Exhibition, Storage, and Handling of Furniture
This is primarily a study of collections management for furniture collections, including environmental interaction and control, collections care, and disaster preparedness. Additional discussion will focus on exhibition concerns, storage and handling, and the problems of art in transit.
This course provides the practical background of administrative procedures in both institutional and private conservation practices. It includes museum philosophy, organization and administration, business management and law, marketing, grants, insurance, and laboratory administration and design.
Internship in a Conservation Laboratory
The information contained in the preceding courses will be applied to conserving wooden objects during a year-long full-time internship in the studio or laboratory of an established conservator (with the approval of FCTP staff). Approximately one-fifth of the internship will be spent on research which will result in a publishable thesis. The project may address theoretical or technical issues regarding the history and preservation of wooden artifacts.