Creative Techniques

artistic and creative techniques with plaster


 

CREATE ENDLESS EFFECTS WITH PLASTER


You can do just about anything on a wall with Vasari Plaster, Lime Wash, sealers and pigments. The possibilities are endless. Lime based coating can be perfect in both a traditional setting and the most contemporary home. Natural lime plasters is intrinsically resistant to going out of style. That is, most faux finishes (which only imitate plaster) start to looks worse as they age, while lime plaster actually has a tendency to look better as it grows older.

You can create hundreds of different effects with Vasari plaster:, from classic and refined, to more contemporary and whimsical. On large areas, you don't want to over-do it with colors and techniques. Remember that some of the best techniques are the simplest ones that will have a classic look forever. Lime plaster is sufficiently beautiful by itself applied in a single color without any extras, but if you want more interest and variation, following are a few suggestions:

 

1.  Apply two or more coats of the same color.


2.  Apply two coats of different colors. The second coat can be applied leaving patches to reveal the first coat.


3.  Apply three coats of different colors, each applied to reveal some of the coat underneath.


4.  Apply two coats of the same color, but on the second coat, you can take a different color and add highlights. For example, your second coat is yellow. When applying the second coat, put some brown on your "hawk" or mud pan, and trowel the color into the second coat. You can do this separately, or simultaneously put brown and yellow on your trowel. You can do this mixing of colors with as many colors as you like. When doing this; don't get the plaster too thick unless you want a look with minor cracks. You need only a very small amount of product on a trowel to do these highlights.


5.  Stencil a third coat of the same or different colors. You can use paper or plastic stencils. You can stencil on multiple layers to give a more complex pattern. When dried, take some sand paper and sand the edges of your stencil. This way, it won't look like a stencil, but more like carved stone.


6.  Scrafito is the process of removing the second layer from the first to reveal designs. Essentially, it is reverse stenciling. Cut a stencil out from a piece of paper. Put it on the second layer while still damp, and lightly brush, blow on or pat with a talcum bag where the stencil is. Remove the stencil and you'll have an outline of your design. Next, take an instrument like a pointed butter knife or a sharp clay-modeling tool, and cut out the areas where you just applied the chalk. Careful here. When you applied the second coat, you rewetted the first, making it soft. When cutting, be gentle.


7.  Using a Dremel (an electric carving machine), you can carve out the first layer to reveal the second.


8.  Apply Lime Wash with a single color, multiple colors, multiple layers, ragging effects, or sponging. You can wait as each layer dries, or do wet on wet.


9.  Paint a decorative design around a border. You can make a mural with lime paint as well. Or try using oil based or acrylic paints. Check out more ideas in our for artists section. If painting a border, use a stencil and talcum powder. Don't use a pencil or charcoal to draw in the design. Lime painting should be done when the plaster is dry.


10.  Apply Veneziano Plaster as the third coat on top of Marmorino. This will smooth out the Marmorino while revealing the ridges.


11.  For sealers check out the sealers application section. You can use various sealers, natural and unnatural, to create many different types of effects and colors. For example, black natural sealer or wax on top of red Marmorino, or dark brown on top of yellow Marmorino. Or green over blue, or yellow over green … you get the idea. It is wise to first seal the area with an untinted version of the sealer, then the tinted version over that. This way the plaster doesn't immediately absorb the dark color everywhere.


12.  Imprint objects on wet Marmorino, like leaves, cat paw prints, or whatever you like.


13.  Gold, silver or copper leafing is called gilding. Gilding is very easy. Get some leafing, Gold or Gilding Size (oil based glue) and paint in the areas you want to cover in metal leaf. Wait until the glue is slightly tacky (this can take a while depending on the type of glue you use), and then gently adhere the leaf to the area. Let it dry and brush off the excess leaf. Don't use aluminum leaf; the lime in the plaster will turn it black and dissolve most of it (unless you want this look). Gold leaf on white Marmorino can look very classy.


You can use gilding, scraffito, stenciling and sealers in combination to create virtually infinite different effects.


VENEZIANO PLASTER


The effects you can create with this Plaster are nearly all the same as with Marmorino, though there is one exception: scrafito (carving out the second coat to reveal the first). Other than that, it's pretty much the same as with Marmorino, you can: stencil, gild, Lime Paint (both decorative and regular), apply various sealers to create countless effects, create Lime Paint, oil based, or acrylic murals.



Unlike Marmorino, Veneziano gives you the ability to apply many coats of color. Each layer is slightly transparent so great depth and color are revealed, even if it's as simple as yellow (ochre or siena) with brown (umber) highlights. When the plaster is dry, you can then take a sander (400-600 grit) and sand down the plaster, revealing layers and colors. This is the really exceptional thing about Veneziano. You can have layers of yellows, oranges and reds, or blues and whites; let your imagination run wild. When you take the sander to the wall, you can sand down or 'carve out' the colors. You can sand dry, or for greater polish and less dust, spray the wall with water and sand as the wall is damp. A much deeper polish is created this way.



You can also take a Dremel carver (an electric carver) and carve out patterns in the plaster revealing both depth and different colors.



LIME WASH


Lime Wash may be applied as a single color or in multiple layers of the same color, lessening the busyness of the wall. It may be also be applied in multiple layers of different colors, giving the finish more interest and depth. Lime paint can be applied after each coat dries or multiple colors can be used during the same application. It can be used for decorative painting on Marmorino, Stucco or on top of lime wash. You can gild lime wash, rag it on, sponge it on, polish it with wet or dry sanding, and use a variety of sealers and waxes with it. Our Natural sealer on Lime paint really darkens it.


SEALERS, WAXES AND GLAZES


Sealers and waxes can go a long way for decorative elements. Besides protecting your walls, you can tint sealers to give your walls a variety of color enhancements. For basic instructions on sealers, check out our sealer section. For example you can apply light brown wax over a golden plaster thus giving it a richer and more old world tonality.


Like wise you can incorporate metallics and pearlescents into your sealers for other more modern effects.


You can even paint with with tinted waxes onto raw plasters. As you do this, try blowing a heat gun over the areas you did. This will immediatley melt the wax therby absorbing it into the wall. This is  like a wax encaustic.

 
MURALS

Fresco painting is the ultimate medium for a mural. The greatest example of fresco painting is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Fresco is also widely found in ancient Egyptian pyramids, great cathedrals, ancient Rome and Aztec ruins. Fresco is not an 'old world' faux finish as some may think.


There are two types of fresco painting: 'buon fresco' (true or wet fresco) and 'fresco secco' (dry fresco). With buon fresco, the wall is plastered with aged lime and then pigments and water are used to the paint the wet plaster. This plaster absorbs the pigments and the murals become an integral part of the wall; as opposed to just on the surface. When the plaster dries, it absorbs carbon dioxide, forming a thin sheet of crystal or carbonized calcium. This, over a little time, produces richer, more dramatic colors and depth in the mural. There's quite a bit to be said about buon fresco and there are plenty of resources online. We are, however, concerned with fresco seco; dry fresco. Here the artist paints onto dry plaster. Since the pigments by themselves won't stick to the surface of dry Marmorino or Veneziano plaster, a binder is used in our painting medium. An ideal medium is our lime wash. It forms both a mineral and chemical bond to the surface of our plaster. It's very workable in terms of open time and shading effects.


Fresco secco should be done on top of untinted (or tinted if you want) Marmorino Plaster, which is a very classic form of lime plaster. You can also use Veneziano. Here, the plaster should be troweled very smooth and floated smooth, and not necessarily burnished. When the plaster dries, sand lightly with a soft sanding sponge or 400-grit sandpaper.


If using lime wash as a binder, your colors might come out a little more washed than usual if you don't add enough pigment. But, if you add enough, you can have bright, vivid murals, especially after polishing with #0000 steel wool. You can use Lime Paint for a very soft and muted mural, like in an ancient bathhouse, or you can use it for vivid, crisp works. After you are finished, you can leave it unsealed or use natural or synthetic sealers. These will darken or enrich your colors, depending on the binder and quantity of the binder used.


Fresco painting is very similar to watercolor painting. You can have great precision, at the same time allowing for very gradual shading; which is not so easy with acrylics. Also, the colors used in fresco exceed the richness and luminosity of acrylic paints. Fresco is perfect for rare and beautiful colors like Lapis Lazuli, ground Malachite, ground Azurite, and dozens of others that come from the same soil that Michelangelo's colors originated from. If you use an expensive color, we recommend putting it in water and 5% Elmer's Glue. This gives you a very efficient use of a pricey color without 'whitening' it out before the lime is saturated with enough pigment.


Aside from frescos and murals there are many other creative possibilities with plaster. Please check out our creative techniques and methods section. There are infinite possibilities using plaster in truly artistic creations. You can layer and sculpt in any sheen, color, or textural effect with any combination of lime paint, wax or sealer. You can actually make a mural by just troweling it, like using a knife in oil or acrylic painting. Furthermore, it's very easy to stencil and reverse stencil which ads tremendous possibilities. All this you can enhance with gilding (metallic leaf like gold or silver). Finally, proper lighting plays a great part in the effect. A good lighting system can really enhance or diminish a plaster/lime based work of art.


As any artist knows, it takes a little experimentation to really know the limits of any medium. Play around with it. It's fairly forgiving in workability, corrections and repairs. We recommend this mostly for interiors, or relatively protected exteriors. You can always use sealers for more exposed areas. Lastly, we don't recommend our products to plaster thick molding: artistic or architectural. 


Please contact us if you have done any fresco or other artistic work with our products. Tell us about your experience with its workability, the binders you used, etc. We would love to see your artwork and exhibit it on our site.
 
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