Cleaning God's House
by Dave Condren
Excerpts from July 21, 2002 article in The Buffalo News
Beth Campano and Tracy Dulniak are
helping to restore the beauty of the Hellenic Orthodox Church of the
Annunciation - one square inch at a time.
Working with Q-tip-like cotton swabs, micro-spatulas and fine-bristle
artist's brushes, the two art conservators have toiled for three months
on the ceiling . . . They are undoing damage to canvas murals and
plaster surfaces caused by last year's arson.
"The work was painstaking," said Campano, who heads Great Lakes Art
Conservation of Cleveland.
Some of the ceiling areas were so caked with soot and grime that they
could concentrate only on the tiny 1-to-4-inch squares they were
cleaning, said Campano, who worked with a team in France that restored
artifacts from the Titanic.
The transept ceiling escaped serious soot damage b because it was
coated with aged, dark, yellow varnish that protected it. The women
removed the old varnish, repaired the paint and then applied a new coat
of varnish. That project took more than three weeks.
There also have been surprises
For instance, parishioners thought the stars decorating the ceiling
over the clerestory windows were gold because of decades of built-up
grime. After cleaning they were found to be white.
For most of the work, they used water-based cleaners and solvents mixed
in "particular percentages and extremely diluted."
Both Campano, who lives in Cleveland, and Dulniak, of Grand Island,
have master's degrees in art conservation from Buffalo State College.