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Craft in architecture – traditional plasters

by Ľuba Paučulová

Stone corn-loft with lime plaster and date, Dúbrava, Liptov regionConstructions plastering is deemed today to be a fully utilitarian activity. Quality and popularity of plasterwork diminished over time. Crafts have changed with new technologies and materials. Plasterwork is often reduced to routine application of ready-made plaster mixtures supplied by mass production. Traditional plasterwork is an ancient craft. Architectural surveys reported plasterwork in Egypt, 3300 years before Christ. Plasters were common for the ancient Greeks, Romans and Byzantines. Plasterwork craft has a long history of added value for architecture in Europe.

Plaster provided protection against weather, covered cracks against dirt and plants, mended irregularities in brickworks and was used as insulation. Plasters were used to decorate walls and ceilings. History of architecture shows that facades or internal walls were in several periods very popular and played a role of canvas or a poster.

Unlike in our times, traditional craft used natural materials only. The material was based in clay, lime, sand and other materials, additions and dyes. Surface was levelled by a plastering trowel, smoother etc. Surface was not flat, it was refracted. Surface finishing of traditional plasters are a perfect example of excellent manual skills of old plasterers.

Professionals doing maintenance, repairs and conservation works at architectural monuments apply traditional plasterwork and use natural plasters. They discovered, after a period of admiration for new plaster mixtures, that a simple and traditional procedure and fine natural materials are best to avoid unexpected results. Ancient skills revived to be re-applied in new buildings.




Further articles in the magazine Craft, Art, Design 04/2007:


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