How To Make Venetian Plaster, How To Apply Venetian Plaster

April 26 2013

The Venetian Plaster, is almost a dream, something that you may see only on the art magazines or when you go visiting countries rich of history and art as Italy or France or few others.

But the Venetian Plaster is also something else, is a way to intend the life, a way to live your house and finally a way you deal with yourself.

WHAT IS VENETIAN PLASTER

The Venetian Plaster, Stucco Veneziano, also known in the past times as Ancient Stucco or even as Roman Plaster (Stucco Romano) it is a decorative technique, still used, that employs slaked lime to which is added fine sand, marble dust up to form a compound called Marmorino with a plastic consistency to which sometimes is also added natural pigments in order to give the preferred colors.

The above are the ingredients used by the great Italian artists who decorated the gorgeous ancient buildings of the cities. You may find samples of that specifically in Venice, where due to the persistent humidity it was necessary to find an effective kind of treatment of the walls for the fabulous palaces, churches, noble houses, castles, but also normal houses of rich people, trying to avoid the damage of the stain and mold. In reality we may find traces of these techniques, very popular in the European Renaissance, also in more remote times, like for instance around 4000 years ago in the Middle East and something similar also with the Ancient Egypt.

But the most unbelievable aspect is that these techniques have proven to be still actual even today.

As of today the need to preserve the walls from the humidity damages and the capillary rise of water from the the foundations is less important that in the past, as we now have other technologies helping us to dry our environments like the aircon, nevertheless, the Stucco Veneziano technique is still appreciated from the people that love sophisticated solutions and specially they want for their homes only the best, without forget, obviously, the intrinsic utility of the good protection of the walls that the Stucco Veneziano is able to give.

To understand the reason as this technique is so expensive and at the same time largely requested, it could be useful to know that the Venetian Plaster or Stucco Veneziano technique consists in a finish thick plaster obtained trough at least six coatings of materials. The thick plaster in the past was motivated by the need for the artists to create bas-reliefs or sculptures on the ceiling, while now it allows to the modern professional masons to obtain aesthetic effects of remarkable beauty.

TECHNIQUE OF THE VENETIAN PLASTER DECORATIONS

The technique of Venetian Plaster, the Stucco Veneziano, is a method of drafting and finishing of the plaster, which, as handed down from ancient times, originally provided the classic application of six layers, of which three for 0,80 inches each and three of 0,20 inches each.

The first layer was composed of a combination of water and slaked lime mixed with sand (as inert material), while the outer layer is composed of slaked lime with marble dust to give the final effect of polished marble.

The function of the slaked lime is to ensure a good grip on the wall and the hardening of the amalgam of the mortar (Marmorino) thanks to the chemical reaction that is going to determine.

Ultimately the true Venetian Plaster is now quite less used as it is very expensive because of the quantity of work required. In fact the application is very tiring and also because, for those who just do not want to give up, there are similar techniques that may offer a quite satisfactory result at a cost significantly more affordable. Among the latter the most common is the one that involves the use of plaster of lime or slaked lime known as Grassello di Calce which is a product based on natural mineral binder that gives a glossy finish among soft color shading, with the advantage of a good breathability and an effective barrier against bacteria.

In any case, the filler has a texture reminiscent of normal stucco wall and is laid with more handscoating with the spatula through rotating movements. When completed, the Stucco Veneziano is smooth to the touch and can be waxed and polished.

PROCEDURE FOR HOW TO APPLY VENETIAN PLASTER

Normally, after a coat of aggregation is given a first coat with white stucco and, after 7/8 hours, a second hand that should be given by using a spatula with colored stucco creating the characteristic marbled effect streaks of the ancient precious Venetian Stucco.

The use of spatulas of different widths allows to have different effects, (is quite understandable that more the blade is closer and more veins you may get on the plaster). Usually it is better to use first a wider spatula and then pass to a most narrow one.

It is frequently used to adopt fillers with contrasting colors to try to get new effects.

The yield of the Stucco Veneziano (the Venetian Plaster) is very small and this is one of the reasons of its high cost. To give an idea, with a 2 pound Venetian Plaster you can cover approximately up to 100 sq. feet, while with the normal chalk plaster you can cover at least 500 sq feet.

But the real reason for the high cost of the Venetian Stucco technique is given by laboriousness of the application that requires good professionalism and we say that is not exaggerated to assimilate it to a forms of art.

Finally, as we are a DIY blog, we must say that if you decide to make Venetian Plaster by yourself, then the costs will be very low and satisfaction, on the other hand will be absolutely higher.

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1 Comment

Heidi
May 18, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Can I use white cement to make a plaster finish and if so how can I add colour, by using powdered products from hardware store, only seem to be available in yellow, black, very green green, would it be p ossible to use
umber in small quantities ? What product can be used to seal the plaster..
We live on a small island there is not much available here !


 
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