LIME PLASTER - Faux
Finishing's Self Inflicted Wound.
About 10 years ago,
Buon Fresco got an email from a total stranger. They
wrote to us, 'Hi, you don't know me but I know your web
site and work very well. Wonderful Stuff! Today I'm
writing to let you know that your photographs are being
posted on someone else's web page".
We followed the link
this artist provided and found that indeed, an artist in
Atlanta, one 'Luciano', had a web page up celebrating
his 'Lime Plaster work', complete with a BLOG article
lamenting the doleful reality that ANYONE (in their
right mind presumably) would deign to use synthetic
The guy went on at
length elucidating his shock over the fact that some
artists use Synthetic plasters for decorative work . If
you are to believe Luciano, he would never stoop to such
Next we saw his
'stencil page', and found that all of the 8 Stenciled
Art photos were pirated from the Buon Fresco web site,
so we wrote him a letter. After pointing out that
copyright law in the USA makes it very expensive to
exploit the copyrighted materials of another entity
without their permission, we informed Luciano that each
of the Buon Fresco Venetian Plaster projects which he
was passing off as his own work, were completed using
SYNTHETIC Venetian Plaster. OMG!
Eventually he took the
photos down, hopefully the wiser,.. or so we thought,
until a year or so later, we found him with a different
web site, still posting Buon Fresco work as his own. So
much for artistic integrity.
DECORATIVE ART FORUM:
Some years back too, I
stumbled across a finishing forum (I don't recall which
one).. where an artist from the Netherlands was asking
anyone who might help with the wet edge issues he was
having while applying Lime Plaster to walls.
Did anyone have an
answer to the problem of how fast the plaster dries?
The answers came back
by the dozens;
Some artists keep spray
bottles on hand to spray their work as they go.
Others said they would
hang wet paper towels to prevent the edge from drying
and messing up the connection..
others had still other
So I suggested simply
that, since the artist was working indoors, since his
walls were not destined to be sitting in canal water or
out in the pouring rain, that he might "try a quality
synthetic"...?? Which have no wet edge issues?..
What is a synthetic
anyway? A Venetian Plaster in which the lime is replaced
with an acrylic or other material. The benefits are
several. The drying time is slowed considerably so that
there is absolutely no wet edge issues whatsoever, and
the stuff doesn't dry out in the can as fast as Lime (by
Also rendering a high
polish is much easier.
And finally the
synthetics we use tint beautifully and lend themselves
to the exquisite translucence that renders marvelous
artist's reply? He wouldn't "dream of using a
synthetic". If hubris was Venetian Plaster, I could have
finished a room with his reply.
Which is why I call
LIME Plaster the decorative artist's self inflicted
Is it a terrible
plaster? No. Do we use Lime plasters in our studio?
Occasionally. Is there anything wrong with them? Yes.
But the real issue is
choice. The hubris attached to the 'made in Italy' cache
of "Lime Plaster' (though some are made in the USA) is
what some artists can't get beyond. Their sales pitch to
their clients is 'This is LIME Plaster'.
As if the label is
going to make the end result any more beautiful.
It is what it is. Lime
or no lime. Among other things I object to the short
shelf life is of Lime. It dries nearly as fast in the
can as it dries on the walls.
Which is why our store
has mostly DRY powder Lime Plasters for sale (with
indefinite.. infinite actually,. shelf life), Then we
have 2 grainy and one shiny Marmorino because the makers
in Italy have the best recipe for Marmorino I've ever
found. These plasters look great and live LONG in the
(We still have gallon
sized containers left of the soft grain Lime Marmorino,
which are on sale now, before we move the studio)
Which brings up my
final point. Marmorino, Venetian Plaster or what have
you.. they're all 'recipes'. Like paint. Plaster doesn't
bubble up from a spring somewhere outside of Parma. It
must be made.
And even the best
recipes can be improved upon, which the best sythetics
have done just that. They've replaced the quick dry lime
with a less caustic, slower drying element, and the
resulting Italian Plaster - based on the Italian
Recipes, and performing as every other Italian plaster
(just a bit easier).. is at least as stunning as
anything that still has lime.
We prefer results to
sell our work, not ingredients. Which is what just
happened for the umpteenth time yesterday. A client who
thought he wanted a lime plaster, saw our VP Marble, and
is a new convert~!
When push comes to
shove, this is about choice. In an article on Wood
graining, the master craftsman, Pierre Finkelstein
remarked that a 'true artisan' ought to have MANY
different skills and techniques in his portfolio. We
couldn't agree more. The point applies to plaster. If
all you know how to do is put down LIME, there is a
world of finishes out there that you're missing.
Like Luciano learned,
Lime prejudice can be counterproductive.
Hi I have a short story
to tell you.
Last night when I
opened my kitchen door to let the dogs go out, I was met
with a most remarkable sight, it was so stunning I
was frozen for minutes - just staring.
The darkness beneath
the trees in our yard was as black as outer space, and
the stars had fallen from heaven. Thousands of
lights were flickering like electrified diamonds, on and
off, on and off, in the tree heights and on the ground,
like a galaxy fallen to earth. I'd never seen anything
It was so remarkable I
pulled Nick out of bed and ran to get Andre. They
were also stunned. We'd never seen so
many fireflies, flickering so rapidly and so very very
brightly! Like living diamonds! Really, in
my lifetime I don't recall it.
Then Andre said to us:
'We don't have fireflies in Russia'. !
Nick and I turned and
stared at him in a harmony of wonder and pity.
Before Andre came to the USA, he had never seen
fireflies light up the summer night. Imagine!
And then I
remembered something Andre told me a long time ago
that I'd forgotten about.
When he first came to
America, Andre heard Christmas carols for the first
All the while he was
growing up, there was no such thing as Christmas
songs in Russia. Communism, the religion that
banishes God, was the law of the land and Christmas was
not celebrated. No decorations were hung, the
cities maintained the same facades as they did all year
long. No holly, no tinsel. No jingle bells and no
I can hardly imagine
growing up with no fireflies in the forest - But I
cannot possibly imagine my children growing up without
What kind of legacy are
we leaving for our Christian children?
What kind of laws will
they be subject to?
What kind of leaders
will write the laws? What kind of courtroom judges
will enforce them?
If Christ tarries for
another generation or two or three, would you, could you
imagine your grandchildren growing up in America and
never hearing someone sing a carol at their door in the
snow? Will they be forbidden to witness, not just
in school, but in the playground, at work;
In the military will the
chaplans be forbidden to pray? Is it so hard to imagine?
Why? It was and is the case still in many places
on earth. And we're moving inexorably in that direction.
Children in Massachusetts won't talk about Jesus even in
church in some locations. It's forbidden so far as
It's the churches yes, but
it's also the political climate.
Wars are lost not in one fell swoop, but hill by hill.
Let's not let it happen
here. For my grandchildren I will continue to protest,
and disseminate information about our leaders, and the
laws they're writing, even while I'm praying for them,
even as I welcome people to keep sending me information
that keeps me wise to the events that affect my life and
the future of my present home.
Won't you too?