I was at the Traditional Building Conference in Chicago last week/weekend. It's good to stay up on the latest wisdom about restoration, and checking out the new technology is always a hoot. This year was fabulous. I attended seminars on lime mortars in cold climates (appropriate), plaster adhesives for plaster that has lost its keys, window restoration, sympathetic additions, traditional decorative graining tools and techniques, and a whole bunch of other incredible cool subjects. I'm such a restoration geek, I know it. Who else gets excited to learn about plaster adhesives? Besides all the other restoration geeks at the conference right alongside me, that is. :) I made some new friends, learned a LOT, and will be trying some new tricks that I picked up along the way. All in all, a very successful trip!
Probably one of the coolest sessions was the graining seminar. A delightful Scotsman who is beyond talented took us through his process for replicating burled maple, birdseye maple, walnut, and tiger oak. When he was finished (and these were just quick-and-dirty samples) one would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between his painted versions and the real deal. He mixes his own paints with beer (not kidding), water, pigments, sometimes linseed oil, and other traditional materials. And whoaNELLIE the results are amazing! I can hardly wait to practice, although I'm sure my clumsy attempts will be sad at best. Still, it'd be a very cool thing to learn.