Plaster Hand Work in the Nineteenth Century

Posted: January 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

The origin of plaster work is lost in antiquity. All that ancient  work was exclusively hand-modeled and had the charm of variety which cast plaster never possessed. Hand work is simply modelling direct with stucco, cement, or plaster. The work may be done in situ or on slabs, and then fixed.  An example of plaster hand work can be seen on this illustration of the Baynard Castle Hotel, in London, built in 1874.

This work was done by William Millar himself, who had this to say about it in his  book “Plastering Plain and Decorative,” considered the bible of plastering:

“The whole of the front, with the exception of some small coats of arms, was worked up by hand in situ. The materials used were Portland cement, lime putty, and sand(…)The only difficulty in working this rough material was to keep the forms somewhat crude to be in accordance with the original design.”

As Millar feared, the ornamentation didn’t last through the ages due to insufficient preparation of the brick work. This is how the Baynard Castle Hotel looks today, stripped of its decorations.

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