Overview Of NCPTT's Ornamental Iron Workshop

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  • On June 18-19, 2009, NCPTT and Tulane University held a two-day hands-on workshop in Sts. Louis Cemetery #2, New Orleans, Louisiana. The focus of the workshop was the preservation of Ornamental Iron. This powerpoint shows some of the highlights of the event.
  • We started with a series of lectures at the Richardson Memorial Building on Tulane University’s campus. The lectures laid out the theory needed within the workshop. Next, Rachel Witwer from Save Our Cemeteries provided a tour and overview of St. Louis Cemetery #2.
  • Participants learned about some of the historical figures buried in the cemetery and observed the varying conditions of the tombs.
  • The heat and humidity of New Orleans was a hurdle to overcome during the workshop. Lots of water and lunch breaks eased the discomfort.
  • In the afternoon of the first day, workshop participants had the opportunity to visit Andrews Welding and Blacksmith shop. Owner Darryl Reeves is a self-taught blacksmith that specializes in wrought iron preservation and original wrought iron creations. He demonstrated a variety of iron working techniques.
  • Here we see an example of Darryl’s work.He demonstrated several decorative treatments including this twist.
  • Darryl also discussed sand casting techniques, which he has done in the past. Now he sends his casting project to Mississippi.
  • During the first day, participants learned how to do a condition assessment on iron work. They used a paper form as a guide to looking at conditions. They evaluated the priorities for treatment and made recommendations.
  • Condition assessments teach the participant how to observe and think about the iron object. How is it constructed? Are there missing pieces? What are the conditions?
  • Groups of four participants had the chance to present their findings to the group on the morning of the second day.
  • During the workshop, instructor Jason Church demonstrated the use of a Bruker portable X-ray Fluorescence Analyzer for determining elements found on the ornamental iron fences.
  • NCPTT’s instructors were also able to take samples of paint and view them under magnification using a portable digital microscope.
  • Jason Church discusses cold stitch repairs to cast iron. He explains that it is very difficult if not impossible to safetly weld cast iron. The method he shows is a pinning method.
  • Participant Rose Daly is preparing this fence for a rust conversion treatment. To do so, she uses a flexible wire brush to remove loose debris and flaking rust from the surface. Not all rust should be removed, as the surfaces will be subsequently treated.
  • Here we see a participant applying a rust conversion treatment. These treatments usually use phosphoric acid or tannic acid to convert the rust to more stable surface products. Since this fence was not going to be painted during the workshop, a tannic acid treatment was applied. This will provide a more stable surface for a period of time.
  • Once the rust converter has dried for 12 to 24 hours, the ornamental iron is primed with a primer. It is important to use a primer and paint system that are compatible (usually by the same manufacturer.) Here we see participant LiisaNasanen applying a primer.
  • During the workshop, participants completed the priming and painting of three ornamental iron grills. Here we see Howard Wellman and Scott Williams working as a team to prime an ornamental gate.
  • Once the primer has dried the recommended amount of time, the fence is painted with an flat finish enamel paint. A flat or matte finish more closely resembles an historical surface finish .
  • After the end of two long days, participants clear the cemetery and admire their finished work.
  • Here we see the “Before” condition of the wrought iron fence with cast zinc details.
  • This is the “After” condition of the same fence with a rust converted stable surface.
  • This photograph shows the completed ornamental iron grill on this tomb.
  • The “before” image is seen on the left. The “after” image is seen on the right. (N.B. the right grill on the after shot is simply set aside for this photo.
  • Here we see the “before” image on the left and the “after” image on the right.
  • An exhausted but happy group at the end of the workshop at the Basin Station Museum. Front row sitting from Left: Amanda Walker, Rose Daly, and Rachel Witwer. Standing from Left: Jason Church (instructor), Tricia Nelson, Allen Knight, Erin Edwards, Eric Schindelholz (instructor), Scott Williams, Howard Wellman, LiisaNasanen. Not shown: Mary Striegel (instructor and woman behind the camera), Debora Rodrigues, Catherine Singley, Eric Iglesias, and Heather Knight.

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