Consolidation of Wood. Possibilities and Limits of Structural Consolidation

by Prof. Dr. Gerdi Maierbacher-Legl, Susanne Karius M.A., and Christine Fiedler M.A.

Next period: 4 April - 29 May 2022
Course fee: 198,- € (students get a reduction of 20%)

Structural consolidation is one of the most demanding measures for the preservation of wooden objects. There is a wide variety of strengthening agents and methods: from those used in the past to current methods, it is constantly growing through further research.
The challenge of this far-reaching measure is to reconcile the ethical, aesthetic and conservation aspects of preserving cultural assets. The course offers you a comprehensive examination of the possibilities and limits of structural wood consolidation. You will learn about the causes of damage as well as the conservation goals of wood consolidation and learn the basics about the requirements for the respective consolidation agent and the materials currently used. You will learn the current insertion methods and success controls in a clear and comprehensible manner, and you will be familiar with the basic principles of health and environmental protection for such measures.

The units:
The first unit offers you an introduction to the topic with its review of historical materials and methods. In the second unit you will learn about the various causes for the structural weakening of wood; you will be able to distinguish between abiotic (indoor climate, fire and water, etc.) and biotic harmful influences (e.g. insects and fungi). The third unit teaches you the requirements and goals of structural consolidation and deals with the irreversibility of the interference with the substance of the objects. It teaches you to weigh up the necessities and consider alternatives. The fourth unit gives an overview of the materials currently used in restoration: you will learn about the properties of consolidation and solvent materials. The various methods of application or consolidation are explained to you and set in relation to the requirements of sustainable conservation of the object. Building on this, the fifth unit will discuss the most common materials currently in use and point out their special suitability for certain damage phenomena. Unit 6 is dedicated to the proven methods that have been used predominantly in the recent past: their advantages and disadvantages as well as their useful areas of application. The seventh unit gives you an overview of the methods used to control a consolidation measure.

The authors:
The course is based on the decades of teaching and research activities led by Prof. Dr. Gerdi Maierbacher-Legl, who was head of the Department of Conservation/Restoration of "Furniture and Wooden Objects" at the HAWK until August of 2019. The conservators Susanne Karius M.A. and Christine Fiedler M.A. graduated under her supervision. Both gained profound experience in the consolidation of large wooden objects during a research project lasting several years and have been teaching at the HAWK for years.

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