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Old 08-07-08, 08:57 PM
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Default Conserving tempera paint

I am an architect assisting a not-for-profit foundation that is restoring a 19th c. carpenter gothic church. The interior is painted with flat areas and stencils of tempera paint. I would like to know if anyone has any recommendations for articles on preserving tempera paint in place on plaster in historic buildings.
thank you,

Last edited by francescarussoarchitect; 08-07-08 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 09-07-08, 12:43 AM
Lincoln Fajardo Lincoln Fajardo is offline
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When you said it was painted on plaster, it leads me to wonder if the painting is actually a fresco. In fresco the pigments are applied to fresh plaster, which then absorbs the pigments into its surface. The colors used have to be resistant to the high alkaline environment of the plaster. Typically only the clay pigments, eg. Burnt sienna, and iron oxides can resist the bleaching effects.

The folks at Sinopia/Kremer Pigments have information on using their pigments for restoration projects.

Good luck,
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Old 09-07-08, 02:55 AM
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Dennis H Dennis H is offline
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That's a difficult question to answer without knowing something about the condition of the paint or its support. I have worked with conservators in treatment of mural paintings on plaster. Treatment typically involves stabilization of the plaster and paint film, surface cleaning, filling losses and voids with appropriate material, inpainting with a reversible medium, and applying a protective coating. Each step can have various solutions depending on a number of complicating factors.
You might look at the Getty conservation sites for articles on plaster or stucco restoration. The 19th-century plaster in the church will most likely be lime plaster, from quicklime. Patching cracks or voids in that will require amenable materials that will expand and contract at the same rate as the lime plaster. As for the paint medium, the decoration may be milk paint -- casein or a combination of casein and lime paint -- rather than egg tempera. Casein was often applied to lime plaster surfaces because you didn't have to wait months for the plaster to cure more completely.
If the paint decoration seems compromised, I would really suggest you seek assistance from a paintings conservator rather than tackle it with inexperienced hands.

Last edited by Dennis H; 09-07-08 at 06:05 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 09-07-08, 06:44 PM
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Dennis H Dennis H is offline
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Francesca, I'll search around for specific articles you might refer to.
I hope I didn't sound preachy in my previous response. I mainly wanted to state that it's a good idea to consult with a conservator, especially if damage or wear to the painting is considerable and if the decorations or the building have aesthetic or historic value.
Good luck with the project.
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Old 22-09-08, 10:13 PM
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Dimitris C. Milionis Dimitris C. Milionis is offline
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are you sure its not only pigment and water on plaster?

as this is common practice in Greece for over 2-3.000 thousand years.

Francesca, correct me if I didn't understand your question

Last edited by Dimitris C. Milionis; 22-09-08 at 10:15 PM.
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