A researcher using thin section petrography for the analysis of a material.

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) and The Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD) in the University of Delaware’s School of Public Policy and Administration are partnering to host a two-day hands-on workshop on the uses of polarized light microscopy for the study of stone and ceramic cultural materials.  The workshop will be held March 27-28, 2012 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Polarized light microscopy of stone and ceramics, known as thin-section petrography, is a crucial tool for the study of ancient and historic objects and building materials. The technique is used to identify materials and their possible sources, understand production technology and object functions, study deterioration mechanisms, and assess preservation strategies and conservation treatments. However, specialized expertise is required to use this technique effectively.  Preservation professionals, including conservation scientists, conservators, and archeologists, will benefit from this workshop.  Students studying or interested in conservation are welcome.

The lead instructor for the workshop is Dr. Chandra L. Reedy, a professor in CHAD and director of the laboratory. The workshop builds on her 2008 book, Thin-Section Petrography of Stone and Ceramic Cultural Materials, with Archetype Publications, London.  (The book was the product of a successful Preservation Technology and Training Grant from NCPTT.)  The workshop will begin with an introduction to polarized light microscopy as a method for identifying minerals. Subsequent sessions will focus on analysis of cultural materials made of stone (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and on pottery, terracotta sculptures, bricks, tiles, and clay core materials from bronze castings.

The workshop is open to 20 participants.  The cost of the workshop is $299.

Participants are responsible for their own travel, housing, and meals. Participants are strongly urged to stay on-site at NCTC. Workshop hotel costs, which includes all meals, are $129 per night for single room, plus tax.

For more information contact Jason Church, jason_church@contractor.nps.govRegistration is open through March 6, 2012.


March 27, 2012

Day 1: Classroom is 160 Instructional West

9:00 – 10:00
Making petrographic thin sections
Mineral properties visible in plane polarized light

Mineral properties visible in crossed polarized light

11:00 – 12:00
Identifying the most commonly-occurring minerals

12:00 – 1:00

1:00 – 2:00
Igneous stone materials (volcanic and plutonic)

2:00 – 3:00
Sedimentary stone materials

3:00 – 3:30
Coffee break

3:30 – 4:30
Metamorphic stone materials

4:30 – 5:00
Review and discussion

March 28, 2011

9:00 – 10:30
Analyzing Ceramics , Part 1: Low-fired wares (earthenwares) and their inclusions (sand, lithics, calcium carbonates, organic material, grog)

10:30 – 12:00
Analyzing Ceramics: High-fired wares (stonewares and porcelains)

12:00 – 1:00

1:00 – 2:45
Identifying pottery fabrication methods (clay processing choices and paste characteristics, forming methods, firing conditions, decoration and surface/clay body interfaces)

2:45 – 3:15
Coffee break

3:15 – 4:45
Nonpottery ceramic and clay materials (clay sculptures and molded or stamped objects, bricks, terracotta and stonepaste/fritware tiles, and clay core materials)

4:45 – 5:00
Final wrap-up and discussion

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