One Chip at a Time: A Paint Conservation Project
The elaborate interior painting is probably Lippitt House’s most striking feature. But over the years, moisture from several different sources has caused isolated areas of the paint to fail.
Through the generosity of the Felicia Fund, the Museum contracted two paint conservators to work on several compromised painted wall and ceiling surfaces on the main floor. Their work helped stabilize the painted finishes and made them look the way that Henry and Mary Ann would have known them when they lived in the house.
Christine Thomson, principal of Decorative Arts & Historic Paint Conservation, first surveyed the areas and identified the places most in need of treatment. After photographing the areas for documentation purposes, she re-adhered the flaking historic paint back to the original plaster with an acrylic adhesive. Working with her colleague Wenda Kochanowski, they sometimes used a small flat iron to make the paint fragments supple and lay flat again. Any losses were compensated with an acrylic fill so the wall or ceiling surface would again appear flat. If original paint was lost, inpainting was done to match color, pattern, and finish to the surrounding area.
This approach preserves the historic paint as well as restores the overall appearance of the elaborate painted interiors featuring delicate faux graining, marbleizing, and intricate stencil patterns.
Made possible through the generous support of donors, this paint conservation project is another example of the work being done on both the interior and exterior of Lippitt House to make sure that it is preserved so more people can enjoy it for years to come.