“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” - Albert Einstein

Friday, January 25, 2008

Getting Plastered

Brenda & I are at the Italian School of Plaster in Dallas, Texas. We're learning the art of plastering using products that have a 2000 history. The Romans used lime plasters in their buildings. The lime in the plaster calcifies and returns to stone, giving a long-lasting finish. Builders in Venice used polished plasters to imitate the look of marble. Their buildings on stilts wouldn't support the weight of real marble.
People in America today think "Venetian Plaster" is any plaster with a texture. Most of them are surprised when we show them a smooth-as-glass, polished plaster and explain the true nature of Venetian Plaster. We have worked with the traditional lime plasters in the past, but our training came from Americans and was sketchy at best. Doyle Self, our instructor, was trained in some of the same schools we were. When he took on the Safra plaster line he went to Italy and learned from artisans with a centuries-long history of plaster application. He had to unlearn his American training.
Brenda & I are working to unlearn some of our habits as well. We've created 32 sample boards using 20 different products. It's the end of the week and Brenda's brain is at the verge of information overload. We've got a home show in 2 weeks and need to put some of these new finishes on display. We tried to think what products to buy, but at the end of the day yesterday we couldn't think very straight. We've got to put an order together today. Looks like we're going to have a working breakfast.


Florence and Gary Deeter said...

Eric and Brenda,

I didn't know anything about the history of plaster. You have learned some valuable techniques. We will be excited to see some of the samples and what you do with the home show.



Elan said...

I hope the new finishes bring in more clients and give you new inspiration in your business.