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: 28 September to 22 November 2020
Course fee: 139,- € (students and RiA members in the pre-study period get a reduction of 20%)

The structural, strength-enhancing conservation of wooden objects is certainly one of the most demanding and difficult measures for the preservation of art and cultural artefacts. Among other things, this is evidenced by the variety of different materials used in the past for consolidation and the ongoing research in this field to find the best possible consolidation agents and methods. The problem and at the same time, the challenge of this active conservation, lies in the compatibility between the ethical, aesthetic and conservation aspects of preserving cultural objects. This course is intended to provide a comprehensive insight into the topic of structural wood consolidation. In addition to a historical review, the causes of damage as well as conservation goals of consolidation will be explained. Requirements for the respective consolidation material, currently common materials as well as the presentation of current insertion methods and success controls are conveyed in a clear and understandable way. The course offers a comprehensive examination of the possibilities and limits of structural wood consolidation as well as the opportunity to deal with this exciting topic and problem of wooden objects out of professional or private interest.

The units:
The 1st unit offers you an introduction to the topic of wood consolidation with its review of historical materials and methods of wood consolidation. In the 2nd unit, illustrates the various causes of the structural weakening of wood, distinguishing between abiotic - such as indoor climate, fire and water - and biotic harmful influences - such as insects and fungi. The 3rd unit presents the requirements and goals of structural strengthening under the aspect of an irreversible intervention in the substance of objects and creates awareness for weighing up the necessity and considering possible alternatives. The 4th unit provides an overview of the requirements for consolidation materials relevant to restoration and familiarises the participants with the properties of consolidation and solvent, different methods of application and consolidation as well as the relevant properties of the object to be consolidated. Building on this, in the 5th unit will introduce the most common and current materials with notes on their special suitability for certain damage phenomena. In unit 6 the participant will learn more about the proven methods or those that have been used in the recent past, their advantages and disadvantages, possible areas of application and the limits of each method. Finally, the 7th unit provides an overview of methods for controlling a consolidation measure and enables you to classify the results expected from their application in terms of their significance.
The authors:
The course is based primarily on the decades of teaching and research activities conducted by Prof. Dr. Gerdi Maierbacher-Legl, who was head of the Department of Conservation/Restoration of "Furniture and Wooden Objects" at the HAWK until 2019. The conservators Susannen Karius M.A. and Christine Fiedler M.A. were taught by her. Both gained rich 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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Broken edge of a wooden board heavily degraded by insects, Tobsdorfer choir stalls, photo: HAWK

Piles of wood flour as a sign of active insect infestation, Bogeschdorf choir stalls, photo: HAWK

Wooden work piece with traces of infestation by insects and microorganisms, Tobsdorfer choir stalls, photo: HAWK

Wooden work piece with traces of infestation by insects and microorganisms, Tobsdorfer choir stalls, photo: HAWK