Buzz off, Betty Draper

If there's one thing I've learned from pursuing a career in historic preservation, it's that people have biases. Like, hard biases. For every person who expresses genuine intrigue in what I do, there are two that stare at me like Betty Draper stares at literally everyone in Mad Men (re: the chic version of impassivity). Though humbling, those reactions increase my respect for professions totally outside of my knowledge bubble. It's very easy to dismiss people's work as impractical or dull - especially if you're convinced that their field has nothing to offer yours. But that doesn't mean a connection doesn't or can't exist; most of the time, that barrier is falsely fabricated in our minds. The best cure for breaking down barriers? Questions. Conversation. Education. Patience. Respect. Everyone has something new to teach others, especially if they're driven by a fiery passion - even if that passion initially seems misplaced (or straight-up bonkers).

These are two Texas Capitol window locks. The left is an original, made of cast bronze, dated 1888. The right is a 3D printed replica, produced from a 3D scan of the original and modified in 3D modeling software, dated two days ago. Traditionally, when replicating hardware, the replica is smaller - around 2% - due to the shrinkage of metal when it cools (physics, amirite?). 2% doesn't seem like much, but it's noticeable when trying to put a replica in the spot of an original within a functional assembly. Today, we're using digital technology to offset the shrinkage by scaling up the scan of the original hardware, and sending a modified original (made of CNC-milled metal) to a traditional hardware company from which to cast replicas.

I know this example doesn't do much to strike down the common misconception that preservation isn't innovative, but I do think it shows that opposites, like old and new, don't have to be - and rarely ever are - mutually exclusive. Why live in a black & white world when grays create tone, texture, variation, and complexity?

So keep those Betty Draper stares locked up, y'all. She may have a fantastic wardrobe, but she's not very fun.