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In today’s post, we hear from our conference partner Lincoln Conservation about their fascinating digital heritage work: Lincoln Conservation is one of the UK’s leading centres for the analysis, conservation and restoration of historic decorative schemes and finishes. Our conservators utilise some of the best conservation technologies to rediscover the UK’s decorative past and have helped to reinstate many iconic buildings, historic interiors, royal palaces, maritime heritage, military vehicles and historic artefacts. Lincoln Conservation also have a specific expertise with digital scanning and replication. The team provides the heritage sector with a complete service from initial 3D colour scanning and the digitisation of objects, interiors and buildings, through to replication of virtual environments or fabrication of replica artefacts and architectural features. Lincoln Conservation have been able to demonstrate many benefits utilising 3D scanning and digital replication technologies including:
  • The ability to capture details from small fine items through to furniture, busts, monuments, ceramics, tiles, architectural features, headstones, sculptures, embossed wallpapers and historic machines and vehicle components.
  • Minimal contact and contamination. 3D scanning is virtually non-contact only requiring minimal handling for the scanner to view the object.
  • Create an accurate digital record to preserve cultural heritage. An accurate 3D digital reference model provides a permanent record for an artefact that might be in danger of loss, as part of a disaster recovery plan or a strategy to manage new digital heritage collections. This model will be more accurate and useful than previous 2D libraries of images and drawings.
  • Digital repairs and restoration. You can minimise contact and contamination of original artefacts by carrying out digital repairs to your digital model. New parts can be reproduced and applied to the original physical artefact by our accredited conservators using permanent or reversible fixing techniques.
  • Heritage interpretation and remote visitor access to virtual 3D collections. A full colour digital model can be viewed on desk top screens and smart phones. 3D models can be incorporated into web browsers or other office-based applications such as Word, PowerPoint and PDF documents. Models or environments can also be viewed using VR or mixed reality headsets.
  • Monitor, measure and analyse. You can monitor and measure movement, decay, wear and tear. You can record and evidence damage and analyse geometrical properties such as volume. You can compare apparently two similar objects from different locations or exposing surface details not easily visible in normal light.
  • Creating accurate and faithful reinstatement pieces. Lincoln Conservation use 3D scanning and a mix of new machining technologies and traditional techniques to recreate objects or architectural features that are faithful in either materials, finishes and appearance.
  • Minimise the cost and time of manual repairs and reproductions. Eliminate tooling, easily scale, mirror or remodel parts, features and objects.
  • Tactile replicas and improving access. Share artefacts with visitors or the visually impaired that would otherwise be too delicate, precious or inaccessible.
  • Bespoke fixtures, supports and mounts. Production of precisely fitting mounts and packaging for storage, transport or display.
  • 3D copies for visitor handling, records, public display and limited-edition celebration pieces.
One of Lincoln Conservation’s recent digital projects includes the restoration of raised relief decorative paper tiles, Cordelova, at The Crescent in Buxton. Originally designed by architect John Carr and built in 1780, this Grade I listed building later became a hotel, assembly room and five lodging houses before being converted for use by the local authority in the 1970s. It is currently undergoing a major programme of restoration, due for completion in 2019.
On site scanning what’s left of the original ceiling tiles.
On site, scanning what’s left of the original ceiling tiles.
The team’s brief was to replicate of a substantial number of Cordelova panels (each measuring 30 by 24 inches) attached to one of the ceilings. Unfortunately, the lath and plaster ceiling is in a poor state with approximately half its surface area fallen away. Whilst the surviving ceiling panels with be retained and consolidated, approximately 70 new substitute panels will be reproduced, using materials compatible with the original composition and in line with best conservation practice. Traditionally, the reproduction of a three-dimensional surface such as this would be achieved by using a suitable moulding material and producing a cast, potentially from fibreglass or other similar material from the mould. However, the surface of the panels was covered in a thick layer of peeling and crazed paint. Any resultant mould taken would have lacked crisp definition and included all the surface blemishes that had developed over time.
Close-up of an original ceiling tile noting the heavy surface crazing of the paints.
Close-up of an original ceiling tile noting the heavy surface crazing of the paints.
It was therefore decided that the creation of a mould using a contactless 3D scanning method was far more appropriate, minimising the risk to the existing panels and allowing the resultant scan data to be digitally cleaned and restored close to its original geometry.
The digitally restored ceiling tile ready for CNC prototyping.
The digitally restored ceiling tile ready for CNC prototyping.
The resulting full-colour 3D CAD file was then exported to a computer-controlled flatbed router. The router was then used to create a positive pattern, faithfully reproducing the contours and dimensions of the original panel. With the positive mould created, a corresponding mould was cast in flexible addition cure silicon rubber and utilised as the master mould to create the required number of new panels.
New CNC routed tooling
New CNC routed tooling.
Following exhaustive trials to finalise the materials required to produce suitable paper panels the team eventually secured agreement from the developer and the Conservation Officer and got the go ahead to manufacture the remaining panels due for installation in 2019. For more information please contact:​​ 01522 835055 or 5051 @LinConservation We look forward to hearing more about Lincoln Conservation’s varied work in the run-up to Heritage Dot. If you’d like to get involved with the conference, register for updates or submit your proposal – the call for participation closes on 14th January 2019.

22nd March 2023

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