Plastered

The last couple of weeks, since I returned from Las Vegas, I’ve been plastered. I’m supposed to be plastering the walls but apparently what I learned in kindergarten was that the fun of fingerpaints is getting them on everything but the paper.

Actually I think that coming from four generations of New Mexicans I have mud in the blood. I have at times seriously considered building a straw bale house and plastering it with mud. As one book I read sighed, “Ah. The magic that is adobe.” Several parts of the house show splotches of previous home-made plaster attempts using clay from my backyard and other traditional materials which I won’t mention here. (Well, okay…dung.)

AJM did not want textured drywall. He grew up in a house with solid brick walls covered with plaster. To him, American frame construction and drywall seems insubstantial and, let’s face it, cheap. And he thinks textured drywall (which I argue would be preferable to our deeply cracked walls and ceilings) is just a sign of workmen too lazy to create a smooth surface.

So combine my frustrated desire for an adobe house with AJM’s childhood memories of Wilmaton House and the result is that we decided to cover the kitchen walls with Venetian plaster instead of paint. Lowe’s carries a Venetian plaster (or maybe faux?) which contains potentially cancer-causing crystalline silica. I chose the pale linen color, “Antiqa”. Unfortunately I accidently bought the more beige-colored “Crema” for my test can. This was not a big problem because a Venetian plaster finish is supposed to have layers of color. The second can I bought was the right color. I used half of each and then mixed the remainder together to layer three tones.

I do prefer plastering to painting even if it’s as time-consuming as frosting a very, very large cake. The plastering is fun but it takes forever. Venetian plaster hardens to a smooth surface which you buff with a steel blade until it is hard and shiny. I didn’t want the texture to look too rough, or for the color variation to look as if it had been sponge-painted or rag-washed so I sanded it down a bit. And so once again, just like the week I painted the ceiling, I’m covered in a light plaster dust and so is everything else in the house.

Yes, yes. I’m wearing a face mask until I get it cleaned up.

One Response to “Plastered”

  1. Kathy Responds:

    I was wondering what had happened to you. Didn’t know or didn’t remember about Las Vegas. Last I knew you had dirt under your fingernails. Anyway, you may remember we renovated our second floor just about a year ago, and those in charge decided to plaster. I don’t think it was the same kind of plaster that you used, but the mess sounds similar. See Slinging Mud and More of the Same for the details.

    I would have left a note on your site but the comments are closed on those two posts. Plastering is quite a mess, isn’t it! I think yours is a different kind of plaster; Venetian plaster is an old method of faking marble walls. My technique isn’t great (this is the first time I’ve done it) so it doesn’t look very much like marble…but that’s okay. It looks different and handcrafted. So I like it. — mss

The surface and beneath the surface