How Decorative Plasterwork is Made?

Like the Desachy creation, modern decorative plaster is made from plaster dust and hessian sheets, but with the inclusion of timber laths which help strengthen the work and provide fixing points so that the piece can be attached to the ceiling or wall. The mix is brushed into flexible rubber or fibreglass moulds, and a hessian scrim is placed upon it, and then covered by another layer of plaster mix. Then the timber laths are laid along its length, and covered by a double layer of hessian scrim to hold the laths in place. The finishing touch is a final layer of plaster mix over the hessian scrim, which is then smoothed to remove any excess. This process takes approximately 20 minutes, and once complete the plaster is allowed to dry. Only when the plaster is completely dry can the piece be removed from the mould.

It is the creation of the moulds that is the more painstaking process for the plasterwork craftsman. Original pieces of plaster work have to be found, and quite often the paint layers removed from their surface in order for the detailing to really stand out. From this original piece a series of copies have to be made and combined until a clay ‘master model’ is created. This master model will be an exact replica of the original piece, and can be used to produce the rubber or fibreglass mould for future plaster reproductions of the original piece.

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