The Conservation Course Syllabus Pages

Course Laboratory Techniques 2
Date offered Winter 1999
Location Ontario, CA
Instructor Miriam Harris
Institution Sir Sandford Fleming College


Course Outline

Course Number: 1380211

Winter Semester, 1999 Sir Sandford Fleming College

Program: Collections Conservation and Management, Semester 2

Community Development & Health

Course Format: 9 hrs. Laboratory work

Hours: Wednesday 9-12am. 1-4pm.
Thursday 9- 12 am

Faculty: Miriam Harris, Office # 371B
Office Hours: Wednesday 4-5pm
E-mail address:

Course Description:

This course provides an opportunity to develop practical skills in the assessment and treatment and care of a variety of organic materials, including wood, leather, skin, fur, and other collagenous and proteinaceous materials. A variety of object types, such as furniture, mixed media and ethnographic artifacts are presented. Special emphasis is placed on ethical awareness in conservation, and safe use and maintenance of laboratory tools. Competencies in written, drawn, and photographic documentation are further developed.


Material Science I (1380202)
Laboratory Methods I (1380207)
Laboratory Techniques I (1380210)
History of Technology I (1380213)

Vocational Outcomes:

This course has been designed to comply with standards and ethics as prescribed by IIC-CG(CAC),CAPC and ICOM Committee for Professional Museum Training.

Generic Skills Outcomes:


1. Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in written, spoken and visual form, descriptive and explanatory information regarding wood, leather, skin, fur and other related organic materials and lab procedures.

2. Reframe information, ideas and concepts using the narrative, visual, numerical and symbolic representations, which demonstrate understanding.

3. Represent his or her skills, knowledge and experiences realistically for personal and employment purposes.

Math Skills:

4. Use of various mathematical techniques to accurately record dimensions, construct support and housing's and measure chemical solutions.

Computer Literacy:

5. Use a variety of computer hardware and software and other technological tools appropriate and necessary to the performance of tasks.

Interpersonal Skills:

6. Interact with instructor and other students in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and achievement of individual and group goals.

7. Manage time and resources to attain project related goals.

8. Act ethically, taking responsibility for own actions and decisions.

Analytical Skills:

9. Evaluate own thinking throughout the steps and processes used in problem solving and decision making.

10. Collect, analyze and organize relevant information from a variety of sources.

11. Propose appropriate solutions that meet identified needs.

12. Adapt to new situations and demands by applying and/or updating knowledge and skills

General Education Goal Area:



To enable students to identify, assess and complete simple treatments on wood, leather, skin, fur and other related organic objects.

Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, the learner will be able to:

1. Demonstrate safe work practices (handling, use and disposal of chemicals and related materials, use of PPE, WHMIS, etc)

2. Manage and maintain workspaces, tools and equipment, demonstrating economical use of resources.

3. Work within recognized code of ethics and recognize personal limitations.

4. Observe wood and leather objects in detail and identify their composition using a variety of methods.

5. Assess the condition of wood and leather artifacts, recognizing causes of deterioration and propose future conservation requirements.

6. Understand the concept of object integrity.

7. Research treatment options (through consultation, and the use of primary and secondary resources.)

8. Select and use appropriate materials, equipment and methods of treatment and techniques for the conservation of wood and leather objects.

9. Select and test methods of least intervention and reversible or removable treatments where possible.

10. Plan treatment schedules and meet deadlines.

11 Document all stages of the assessment and treatment process for wood and leather objects, based on the use of standard terminology, drawings, photo-documentation, condition reports and treatment reports.

12. Develop and carry out treatment recommendations for the cleaning, stabilization, and support repair and maintenance of wood and leather artifacts.

13. Use fine motor skills, hand-eye co-ordination and colour matching

14. Distinguish between conservation and restoration approaches or aspects of a treatment.

Learning Sequence:



Topic, resources, learning activities Learning Outcome Assessment
Week #1


Introduction to Course

Review of Laboratory Techniques Review/Critique of Documentation Form Assignment of Woodworking Project Handling Vulnerabilities

1,2,3 Woodworking Project
Week #2

Jan. 20/21

Woodworking Project

Examination and documentation of wooden artifacts

Structure of wood/Nature of wooden artifacts.

-movement of wood and common types of damage.

1,2,3,4,5,6 Woodworking project

Wood artifact-documentation

Week #3

Jan. 26/27

Jan 28

CCI Wood Workshop

Woodworking project

Examination and pre-treatment documentation finish

Artifact treatment begin




Woodworking project

Wood artifact documentation

Week #4

Feb. 3-4

Woodworking Project Due

Artifact treatment

Joints, adhesives, clamping

Veneer relaying

Lab project Assignment




Wood working project DUE

Wood artiffiact treatment

Lab project

Week #5


Sharpening and tool maintenance video

Cleaning and polishing finishes

Finishes/stains/surface treatments

Inlay materials etc.

Artifact treatment

Lab project




Wood artifact treatment

Lab project

Week #6

Feb. 16-17

Wood artifact treatment

Repair of broken parts and replacement

Fills (type and technique)


Hardware (cleaning, loose fittings etc.)

Lab Project




Wood artifact treatment

Lab project

Week #7

Feb. 24-25

Wood artifacts and documentation Due

Conservation of Basketry and plant materials

Assign leather-examination and documentation

Skin processing and tanning methods

Skin and leather vulnerabilities and deterioration

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 Wood artifact documentation and treatment due.

Leather artifact documentation

Lab project

Week #8 Study Week    
Week #9

March 10-11

Lab projects

Leather artifact treatment

Conservation of Ethnographic skins and leathers- cleaning and reshaping methods

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 Leather artifact documentation and treatment

Lab project

Week #10

March 17-18

Lab Projects

Leather artifact treatments

Conservation of frames (tentative)

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 Lab project

Leather artifact treatment

Week #11

March 24-25

Lab Projects

Leather artifact treatments

Gilding techniques and conservation (tentative)

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 Lab Project

Leather artifact treatment

Week #12

March 31-

April 1

Leather Artifact treatments

Lab Projects Due

Treatment of Ethno-skins and leathers cont'd.

Repair techniques, adhesives and consolidants, supports etc.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 Lab Project Due.

Leather artifact

Week #13

April 7-8

Leather Artifact treatments


1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14, Leather artifact treatment
Week #14

April 14-15

Keratins cont'd Conservation techniques

Discussion of techniques used on tortoiseshell, horn, bone, antler, and ivory

Leather artifacts and documentation due

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14, Leather artifact treatment and documentation Due.
Week #15

April 21-22


Learning Resources:

Students will be required to purchase an assortment of tools (the list of tools was issued in Semester I ), and colour slide film

The Conservation Laboratory will be available for student use most evenings and weekends, after students have participated in the approved WHIMIS and First Aid Training


Students are encouraged to review library resources and purchase the following texts:

Science for Conservators Series, Crafts Council, London
Book 1-Introduction to Materials
Book 2-Cleaning
Book 3-Adhesives and Coatings

CCI Notes, Canadian Conservation Institute, Ottawa, ON

Cronyn, J.M. The Elements of Archaeological Conservation. London: Routledge. 1990

Knell, Simon Care of Collections. London: Routledge. 1994

Hoadley, R.Bruce Understanding Wood: A Craftsman's Guide to Wood Technology. Connecticut: The Taunton Press. 1980

Additional references and reading materials will be posted or distributed during the course.

Assessment Plan:

The following criteria will be used to evaluate each student's performance: standard and quality of practical work, efficient use of scheduled laboratory time, neatness, economical use of materials, initiative, dedication and interest. Students will carry out all documentation and treatment of objects in accordance with professional standards and code of ethics.

Criteria for assessment will vary depending on the material composition and the condition of objects.

Students are required to keep a Laboratory Journal. Regular entries should be made including observations, subject information and points of interest to students.

Assignment Value in Percent Due Date

Wood-working Project 10% Feb 3
Wood Artifact 30% Feb 24
Treatment and Documentation    
Laboratory Project 25% March 31
Lab Maintenance Component 5%  
Leather Artifact 30% April 14
Treatment and Documentation    

Note: Above dates may be subject to change.

PLA options and contact for this couse:

Academic Responsibilities:

Mandatory Requirements

1. The Art Conservation Laboratory is to be locked at all times, when not in use. Failure to lock the lab will result in the loss of unscheduled access.

2. Students will work in the laboratory with at least one other person (i.e. the "buddy" system).

3. Eating, drinking and smoking are not permitted in the laboratory.

4. Students will not be allowed access to the laboratory under the influence of alcohol and narcotics.


6. Artifacts and course supplies will not be permitted to leave the laboratory.

7. It is the student's responsibility to label and identify any personal equipment or related belongings.

8. Students are required to store personal belongings such as coats, boots etc. in their lockers.

9. Students will respect all artifacts and projects thereby not handling any treatments in progress, other than their own, unless given permission to do so.

10. Students are not permitted to use personal property as projects to be evaluated.

11. Students will record unscheduled time spent in the laboratory in the "lab log". Attendance will be monitored during scheduled lab time, failure to work under the direct supervision of faculty may result in the suspension of lab privileges.

Course Policies

Projects will be evaluated upon the successful completion of the artifact treatment, and when all written and photographic documentation is submitted. Failure to provide all necessary documentation will jeopardize the evaluation process. Students must complete all course assignments in order to receive a passing grade.

Late assignments will be penalized 10 % per day. The instructor reserves the right to remove artifacts from students if a treatment is not progressing consistently, a grade of zero will be given. The CCM program has adopted the attached policy on late assignments. Exceptions may be granted due to circumstances beyond the student's control, provided that the student contacts the instructor promptly upon return to the College to discuss alternate arrangements.

Collections Conservation and Management

1. Presentation

Written assignments must be:

2. Re-writes

Faculty may request a re-write of a submission if the criteria for assessment have not been met. Late penalties will apply if the assignment is not re-submitted the following day.

3. Penalties for Late Submissions

The Collections Conservation Management Program recognizes the departmental policy developed by Community Services.

Completion of Term Work

All assignments must be completed in order for students to achieve a passing grade.

Late Assignments

Late assignments receive the following penalty:

Marks will be deducted at the rate of 10% per day for three days after which assignments are marked at zero.

Faculty are not obliged to provide feedback on assignments marked at zero.

Oral Presentations

Oral presentations and/or practical or projects for evaluation must be delivered on the day scheduled. A 'no-show' will be graded at zero unless adequate explanation is provided.

4. Academic Integrity

Plagiarism is a serious breach of academic integrity and the college has a strict policy on this issue (see Academic Regulations).

It is a student's responsibility to ensure that all written submissions include an appropriate method of in text citation as well as an accompanying bibliography.

Seminar and oral presentations should be supported by a bibliography and sources should be referred to during the presentation.

5. Make-up Tests

In valid circumstances (ill-health, personal crisis), a student may be given a make-up test to compensate for one missed in class-time. Students must contact the instructor within seven days of the original test in order to request a make-up.

6. Extensions & GDFS

An extension may be granted to an individual student based on need and circumstance. Medical grounds should be substantiated.

The revised due date will be recorded and signed by both parties.

The entire class may be given an extension, at the discretion of faculty.

Incomplete and Grade Deferred marks at the end of the semester must be negotiated between student and faculty (see Academic Regulations). Note: these are a privilege to be granted under special circumstances, not used in order to compensate for poor planning.

7. Site Work

Students must agree to work within the parameters of the guidelines established for site work. Failure to comply, may result in the termination of project and suspension of the privilege of access.

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