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2 June 2011

Wednesday 1st June 2011; Parma & Stefano Volta's Workshop

Week 8 of 12
Module 5: Conservation Interventions and Treatments; Criteria for Selection and Implementation The Study Tour: Parma

This morning we headed into Parma to visit the Cathedral, Baptistry and briefly the Museum before going up the scaffolding surrounding the Cathedral Bell Tower. Silvia and Stefano Volta, conservator-restorers, joined us to discuss the conservation work that they have been involved with on these structures. A fire broke out in the steeple of the 13th Century Cathedral Bell Tower in the 1990s following a strike by lightening and its structure of wooden batons below a copper roof provided a perfect furnace so the fire burnt for many hours. When the conservation work began the copper was removed and a glazed brick steeple was found to be concealed below. The brick design has a repeating pattern of four courses of black-glazed bricks followed by four courses of white-glazed bricks. Because the fire was able to achieve very high temperatures many of the bricks were heavily damaged and are being replaced with bricks which have been made to a traditional specification. The glaze on many of the remaining bricks can be seen to have been altered during the fire. The decision was made that the spire should have its copper reinstated and therefore the new bricks have not been glazed.

The mural paintings on the ceilings inside Parma Cathedral by Correggio.

Below the Cathedral the columns are being monitored for movement and some have been wrapped with carbon fibre.

The burnt bricks on the spire of the cathedral with new unglazed brick indents.

Discussion at the top of the scaffolding (70 metres high); the top of the spire waiting for the golden angel is in the foreground. L-R Simon Warrack (Course Coordinator ICCROM), Keisha Fong (Course Coordinator Getty Conservation Institute), Silvia Volta (Conservator).

This afternoon we went to the workshop of Stefano Volta, a conservator-restorer, in Collecchio. We were set a practical exercise of carrying out some crack pointing of masonry elements. We were given a base mortar which was 1 part lime putty : 1.5 parts river sand and we added a further 1.5 parts of aggregate in the form of coloured sands and pozzolan to create a 1 : 3 mortar which would match the appearance of our stone. Stefano uses a traditional mortar mixer which is the type used all over Italy (see image below).

Me and Jiyoung (Korean participant) working on our pointing exercise.

A traditional Italian mortar mixer; the two wheels rotate vertically and they are both rotated horizontally to produce a good mix.

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