Ornamental Plaster & Scagliola

Decorative painting and plaster ornamentation work hand-in-hand to achieve environments of great beauty.

Decorative painting and plaster ornamentation work hand-in-hand to achieve environments of great beauty. Ornamental plaster conservation, restoration and replication are frequently provided by CSS in conjunction with decorative restoration when plaster is loose or damaged. Even missing elements of plaster ornament can be replicated from physical evidence or historic photographs.

New, architectural ornamentation can also be created to enhance an interior space. For instance, CSS has provided the addition of coffers, with and without rosettes, to barrel-vaulted ceilings in period-sensitive church renovations for which an elevated level of decoration was desired.

CSS also creates and restores the extraordinary imitation marble known as scagliola, which originated in Italy and was lavished on turn-of-the-century American civic buildings. Scagliola can be so convincing that even marble enthusiasts have been fooled by it. One indication of scagliola use is a very large expanse without joints. Also, marble is usually cold to the touch and scagliola is less so.

The technique for creating the gypsum-based product has remained shrouded in an aura of mystery for hundreds of years. Scagliola projects require knowledge of the material and its historical use in the U.S., as well as significant experience in creating it.

Conrad Schmitt Studios’ projects have included the traditional European technique that uses clumps of a doughy mixture with mineral pigment for veining, as well as the more common marezzo technique, which employs an almost liquid mixture and raw silk fiber for veining. The technique utilized in a restoration project is dictated by that of the original artwork.

By conducting a project’s ornamental plaster with the decorative painting, CSS can provide superior results and coordinate the execution of both specialties in an efficient and timely manner.

Ornamental Plaster

An exciting element of our work in ornamental plaster is the creation of custom designed and sculpted items, ranging from custom brackets to the creation and installation of entire vaulted ceilings. Equally exciting is the restoration work of re-creating missing or damaged elements with the responsibility to preserve the architectural integrity of historic buildings.

Ornamental plaster moldings can preserve architectural spaces ranging from decorative or vaulted ceilings to plain cornices; from interior plaster to exterior walls; and from brackets and rosettes to medallions. Each space is equally important in transforming a room. Using historically accurate material and skilled craftsmanship, we are proud of each crevice that is transformed, a renewal of history within each space.

Experts use ornamental plaster to fabricate spaces; to decorate delicate ornamentation and larger statuary; to recreate missing elements, to replace historic moldings too damaged to restore, or to create and cast new ornament in plaster.

Models and molds are cast in a variety of mediums such as plaster, cement, fiberglass, resin, and gypsum. Colored and textured finishes such as Venetian, tinted or waxed plasters and scagliola polish off the project. Without the use of paint, the artist mimics a glossy marble. When onlookers observe a soft, faded, aged appearance, the goal of restorative ornamental plaster is met.

Dating back to the Pharaohs of Egypt over 4,000 years ago, plaster was used on surfaces in palaces and pyramids. These plaster surfaces, covered mostly in calcined gypsum still exist today. Greek architecture reveals that interior use of plaster and exterior use of stuccowork 500 years before the birth of Christ.

Conrad Schmitt Studios is privileged to continue this ancient tradition, in hopes that in years to come, ornamental plaster is still admired for its fire resistance, superior bonding ability, curing qualities, weather resistance, and most of all, traditional and historic beauty.