Architectural Finishes in America

Historic Preservation

Spring 2013

Mary Jablonski, instructor

This course explored the decoration, ornamentation and protection of buildings with a wide variety of finishes. Buildings and preservation should not merely be about the outer shell of the building, but how people see themselves and express themselves in the finishes of their homes and public buildings. The course was a mix of lectures, demonstrations, site visits and some hands-on work in the form of conservation treatments.

Lectures examined paint, clear finishes, wallpaper, plaster, stucco, twentieth-century wall and ceiling finishes, tile, linoleum and glass. Two demonstration lecturers allowed students to gain better insight into the techniques of wood graining and gilding. The guest lecturer, John Canning, made graining look simple but demonstrated how traditional materials are used to make complex looking finishes. Michael Kramer and Jill London from Gilder’s Studio demonstrated oil and water gilding techniques.

This course included a site visit to Woodlawn Cemetery where the class performed hands-on work in the form of analysis and conservation treatments on a Tiffany Studio glass mosaic art piece.