Most people relax on their summer vacation. After a day on a beach I get antsy and need to keep moving, exploring and building. For the second year in a row I spent my vacation last week sharing my passion for the craft by teaching the 8 day intensive that is part of the semester long ‘Traditional Building’ class I teach at the Boston Architectural College (BAC) in association with the North Bennett Street School.
The class is part of the low residency Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation at the BAC. In this 8 week long class, 7 weeks are online with a series of interactive lectures/discussions and traditional coursework and one 8 day week is spent with the entire class in Boston participating in a hands on format. This works great for students who need to juggle work, family and other obligations while also seeking a quality degree on the way to a new or expanded career path.
On the first full day of class we took a walking tour of the city with Steve O’Shaughnessy (NBSS Preservation Carpentry Instructor) visiting several historic house museums and notable structures in Boston. Having worked for Historic New England, Steve is an excellent tour guide with a lot of great information to share.
The second day I spent the morning teaching the basics of traditional woodworking — using a smoothing plane, molding planes, drilling, chiseling and other basic bench work.
In the afternoon I taught the class about window restoration, window reproduction and condition assessment reports. We then went out to do some field work at the historic Fenway Studios.
Next up we visited the Saugus Ironworks which is a National Historic Park. Senior Park Ranger Curtis White was on hand to guide us through this landmark site and enthusiastically share with us his latest research about historic ironwork. (He’s a great resource and if you ever visit the park and run into him, tell him I sent you. )
Robert Adam (Who started the Preservation Carpentry program at NBSS and is a noted preservation consultant) lectured about historic hardware and fasteners.
Robert’s brings a portion of his comprehensive collection of historic hardware and fasteners allowing students to closely examine these items up close and differentiate fine details.
Sara Chase, a nationally known paint analysis expert and preservation consultant (+ advisor to the NBSS Preservation Carpentry Program) taught a session on traditional paints and their manufacture.
During this hands on session students not only learned how to identify various kinds of historic paints they also had the chance to mix their own paints in a traditional way and try their hand at applying them.
After a visit to the MFA in Boston, next up was NBSS Preservation Carpentry Instructor Rich Friberg to teach the basics of Timber Framing.
Rich brings with him a deep well of knowledge and a passion for teaching this craft.
Students had a chance to layout and cut mortise and tenon joints….
try out some joinery on the large scale with traditional timber framing tools…
and fit the joints they made.
The completed 8′ x 10′ sill shown above would be the first major element of a modest sized barn or outbuilding.
Preservation Mason Matt Gillard (owner of Colonial Brick Works) and Matt Blanchette gave a great lecture on traditional masonry tools, techniques and evolution.
This hands on session allowed students to mix traditional mortar, clean bricks, re-point, repair, lay brick and joint mortar.
At the end of the week the students also shared their presentations and research proposals. To celebrate the end of this very intensive week the Director of the Historic Preservation (HP) program Robert Ogle presented each student with an ‘I survived the HP intensive week 2013 @ the BAC’ Tee Shirt to commemorate the occasion. This well earned reward is one of three major intensives they will need to survive in order to complete the program.
Given that we all survived this very intensive week and you survived reading this marathon blog post, I think it’s time for all of us to rest up and prep for next year.