Tag Archives: NCPTT

NCPTT Notes Issue 48: Introducing Preservation Today

This publication features the usual training and research articles. A few were written by a promising student journalist named Kevin Clarkston. I was lucky enough to teach Kevin in a Feature Writing class at Northwestern and then have him as a practicum student at NCPTT. One of his articles features the new Preservation Today social media experiment I’ve been working on.

Heritage DIY: How to clean cemetery monuments

By Jason Church

Cemetery care and maintenance is undergoing a surge in popularity that hasn’t been seen since the Victorian era. It’s little wonder. Cemetery gravemarkers are at once memorials to those we’ve loved and pieces of art. Caring for them provides a connection to a world before the internet absorbed all of our attention.

Cleaning these monuments properly is the best thing one can do to ensure that they will last for generations to come. And it’s easily done too!

Cleaning stones should always be done by the gentlest means possible. For chemical cleaning, acceptable products are detergents, solvents, surfactants, biocides, and intermittent water misting.  When choosing a cleaner it should be gentle, non-ionic, and have a neutral pH of 7 or one close to the pH of the stone. For example, the pH for marble is around pH10, thus the cleaner may be a pH of 9-10. Never use bleach or salt laden cleaners nor any strong acids or bases.

Glen Whitener showing  Elizabeth Dickey and Courtney Fint cleaning

Soft bristle brushes are required when cleaning stones. They can have natural or synthetic bristles. Vegetable brushes or soft grooming brushes for large   animals are a few that can be found in chain or farm supply stores. All rough or metal edges must be covered with tape to reduce the chance of scratching the stone. Do not use any harsh mechanical devices such as sand blasting, high-pressure power washers, or power tools such as sanders or drills equipped with a wire brush.

After you have chosen your cleaner, make small test strips to try out the cleaner and make sure we’re not going to damage the stone. Select your preferred cleaner. To make the task easier, it is a good idea to bring it in spray bottles or small containers.

Soak the stone liberally with water before applying the cleaner. Stone is a very porous material and will absorb the cleaner. By soaking it beforehand, the cleaner will stay on the surface of the stone and minimize possible unwanted effects of the cleaner. Spray the cleaner on a manageable area and work from the bottom up in small, circular motions. This will allow the cleaner to get into all the crevices. Working from the bottom up minimizes streaking on the stone surface. If streaking occurs, it would be a good idea to contact a professional.

GMCA conference 088

One scrubbing over the area might not be enough and it may take more repetitions, but remember not to scrub so hard that you damage the surface. You may also want to use different brush sizes for different areas. Keep the stone wet while cleaning. Remember to rinse with clean water after cleaning each area and to thoroughly rinse the stone at the end to make sure that no cleaner is left behind.

Cleaning cemetery monuments doesn’t take a lot of time, but the benefits could last for decades. It’s a great family activity to undertake on a nice day this spring. Pack a picnic lunch, some cleaning supplies and share stories of your ancestors with the next generation.

Related links:

NCPTT Flickr Stream

NCPTT YouTube Channel

Jason Church on Linkedin

D2 Eco-Friendly Cleaner

Prosoco Biowash Cleaner

NCPTT Catalog of Research

NCPTT Catalog of free research

This catalog features research conducted over the first ten years of the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. I conceptualized, designed and wrote (except where noted) this catalog in 2004-2005 as a way to more effectively market these free research products to the professional who could use them. Product requests and downloads averaged a 500 percent increase in the year following its publication.

Apply online for preservation technology grants through Oct.15

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training is looking to fund innovative projects that advance the application of science and technology in historic preservation.

The PTT Grants program funds up to $25,000 for projects that develop new technologies or adapt existing technologies to preserve cultural resources.

NCPTT staff are accepting optional pre-proposal abstracts through the Center’s website until Oct. 1. Staff will reply to these abstracts with feedback. Full grant applications may be submitted online until Oct. 15.

Projects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Laboratory or field research that explores or assesses novel or adaptive methods
  • Training activities, including workshops, and course or curriculum development that promote the use of new or adaptive technologies
  • Documentation using new methods
  • Manuscript or website development that disseminates innovative preservation technologies
  • Meetings that convene experts to discuss the use of technologies to address preservation problems.
  • NCPTT does not fund “bricks and mortar” projects or straight-forward documentation projects using well-established methods.

Grants are awarded competitively with a maximum award of $25,000 (including indirect costs). All grants require a one-to-one match of cash or in-kind services. Grants are funded by annual federal appropriation and are subject to availability of funds.

NCPTT funds projects within several overlapping disciplinary areas. These include:

  • archaeology
  • collections management
  • architecture
  • engineering
  • historic landscapes
  • materials research

Although any proposal will be considered that advances NCPTT’s mission, NCPTT will give preference to proposals that advance technologies or methods to:

  • conserve cultural resources of the “recent past”
  • monitor and evaluate preservation treatments
  • investigate minimally invasive techniques to  inventory and assess cultural resources
  • protect cultural resources against natural and human threats
  • preserve cemeteries and places of worship, and safeguard resources from effects of pollution and climate

The following organizations are eligible to submit proposals:

  • U.S. universities and colleges,
  • U.S. non-profit organizations: Non-academic museums, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activity
  • Government agencies in the U.S.: National Park Service and other federal, state, territorial and local government agencies, as well as Hawaiian Natives, Native American and Alaska Native tribes and their Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. Other organizations can participate only as contractors to eligible U.S. partners. Grants funds support only portions of projects that are undertaken or managed directly by U.S. partners. Grant funds can be used in support of projects outside of the U.S., provided the principal organization conducting the work is an eligible U.S. institution and the project’s results address a national preservation need.


Review Criteria

Reviewers evaluate each project proposal by the following criteria. The successful proposed project should thoroughly:

  • Address an identifiable national need in preservation technology
  • Present innovate technologies
  • Demonstrate a technically sound methodology
  • Have a principal investigator well qualified to conduct the proposed work
  • Disseminate project results effectively
  • Be cost effective given the scope of work and the audience
  • Provide a one-to-one match of funding with cash or in-kind services
  • Result in tangible grant products that disseminate information beyond traditional ways (e.g. online web based training, webinars, podcasts, videos, DVDs, electronic publishing, etc.).

NCPTT reviews proposals for disciplinary, geographical and institutional distribution. Additionally, a National Park Service grants administrator reviews them for financial and policy matters. Special consideration will be given to proposals that leverage resources through public and private partnerships.

The Grant Application Process

Applicants desiring feedback may submit an optional pre-proposal anytime up to October 1, 2008. The preproposal may not exceed one page in length, and it should be an informal abstract of your project. Provide a brief description that highlights the innovative nature of the project, how it applies to preservation technology, the national need, the time frame, and approximate overall cost.

NCPTT staff will provide timely feedback on the degree of fit between your idea and NCPTT’s mission.
Applicants must submit a PTT Grant application between September 1, 2008 and October 15, 2008. The applicant will provide details on the following:

  • Abstract (100 words)
  • Description of innovation (100 words)
  • Project narrative, which should include a discussion of the technical soundness of the methods (1000 words)
  • A bibliography of references cited in the narrative
  • Statement about how the project addresses an identifiable national need in preservation technology (250 words)
  • A list of project tasks and their schedule (500 words) a dissemination plan (250 words)
  • A description of the deliverables (500 words)
  • Summary of the expertise and project-related experience of the principal investigator (500 words)
  • Summary of the expertise and project-related experience of the research team (1000 words)
  • An itemized budget listing the funds requested from NCPTT, as well as the funds provided in cash and in-kind donation from other parties. Applicants will receive notification of their status in early December 2008.

Successful projects can begin in March 1, 2009, pending availability of funding.

Top five sources for disaster response information

With the frequency of epic disasters in recent years, the preservation community is quickly adopting the Boy Scout motto “be prepared” in its approach to the recovery of heritage resources. Pages dedicated to the topic are popping up all over the web. Here are our picks for five of the best.

AIC Disaster Recovery Resources

The American Institute for Conservation links to recovery of various types of materials and also health-related considerations. Disaster-related articles from back Issues of the Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (JAIC). Also links to the findings of the Ground Zero/World Trade Center disaster.

Disaster planning for collections

The Society for Historical Archaeology administers this page on disaster response. It is practical in its approach, giving details on useful publications as well as ordering information. It also includes step-by-step instruction (with images, no less) on needed supplies, triage considerations and drying methods.

English: Logo of the National Center for Prese...

NCPTT disaster recovery page

The official disaster recovery site for the National Park Service, this site links to pages with of FEMA and the Heritage Emergency National Task Force. Content can be filtered by need, including damage assessment, earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricane recovery, wet recovery. Also contains downloadable PDFs and National Weather Service advisories.

Solinet Preservation Disaster Recovery Page

Easy-to-navigate page of links listed by both disaster and material type. Also includes a handy “advice” section on preparedness and choosing vendors as well as navigating the FEMA and disaster aid process.

National Trust Flood Recovery

An assortment of flood response web pages and pdfs assembled as a direct response to the summer floods in the Midwest. Includes a breakdown of the affected area by state along with links to affected cultural institutions.

We know there have to be additional resources out there. If you know of others, please share them.

Disaster recovery playlist from YouTube

Featured thumbnail photo by Alice Ann Krishnan

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