Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
CLICK ON THE RABBIT ( yes, those are cabinets) TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO, AND LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SERVICES...theartofthehome.com

Monday, April 15, 2013

(Not so) Old Plaster

Working on Cat's illustrations (see last post), I'm spending a lot of time in the room formerly known as my dining room.  I probably blogged about this room some 320 posts back, but people still ask if Belle's dining-room-turned-studio-annex walls are the original finish, and whether it's pressed tin or paper.  No, and neither. 

stenciled plaster (joint compound), and hand sculpted paper clay border
When I moved in, most of the walls were off-white, and painted with a slight orange peel texture. I'm guessing the texture paint was done to hide a hundred years of less than perfectly patched lath and plaster. Not my favorite thing ever, but neither is sanding for hours to crate smooth walls, so I worked with it.

The technique I used is essentially what was done before the machine age made pressed tin and embossed wallpaper available to the masses. It's joint compound (simply the modern day plaster substitute, premixed and easy to work with) trowelled through a stencil. The look was popular, but few homes in the U.S. would have had it done the old way, especially not with the hand-sculpted (Italian paper clay) border, however I only wanted to nod to the era, not decorate a museum set.

Belle Amie, built in 1906, is historically relevant to this small town, but not architecturally significant. She's well built and beautiful, but not too valuable to tweak. In fact, I'm fairly certain she was built from the left overs from the family's lumber yard, and I think these people who put a huge pink window in the foyer would probably approve of my artistic additions. (If not, they aren't saying much about it.)
custom stenciled plaster

Still, I didn't go off in a totally new direction. The stencil I designed for the walls is a simplified version of the sunflower pattern on the doorknobs found throughout the house. The diamond pattern is found in the mullioned pink window in the foyer, as well as leaded glass sidelights and a transom window. The garland of leaves and fruit is my own folly, as I didn't want to take the wine colored walls all the way to the ceiling, and needed something to finish the edge. Sculpting this was a long slow process, of course, especially since it took a few tries to figure out what to use, but it turned out to be the beginning of my love affair with sculpting plaster.
antique doorknob, sunflower pattern, pre-1906

Had I known the dining room would eventually be a second art studio, would I have done the same thing? Probably not. I'm glad I didn't see the future, because I love working in this room several days a week.  I think one of my favorite things is to make functional things beautiful, or to use beautiful objects in functional ways.  Just like I don't save the good silver for special meals, I don't save the fanciest room in the house for special days.  In fact, enjoying the fine things every day makes every day a little bit special.

Have a great week.  Sure hope you love your work space as much as I love mine!  If not, I do leave my sanctuary to work on other people's walls.  I'm almost done with this illustrating project, so I'll be ready to take on some walls in a week or so.  Click on the rabbit at the top of the page for contact info.

No comments: