Buon Fresco Decorative Art  

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 plaster. Ehew.

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 depravity.

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.

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 recommendations.

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 far).
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 marble reproductions.

The Netherlands 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 wound.

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 can.

(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.


Summer 2007

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 like it.

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 time.~!!
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 caroling.
I can hardly imagine growing up with no fireflies in the forest - But I cannot possibly imagine my children growing up without Christmas songs.
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 they know.

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?