What is Venetian plaster?

Venetian plaster gets its name from Venice, Italy, where it was perfected.

Venetian plaster is a technique of applying plaster to walls, raised or curved surfaces, and ceilings to give an intensified stucco appearance and texture. The method was perfected by artisans in 15th-century Rome around the region of Venice, Italy, from which it gets its name. It remained popular in 2011 and the refinements in the technique and gypsum compounds used have made it an affordable process for any contemporary building or renovation project. Changes in technique have also adapted it for its more frequent use in modern times, which is to apply it to flat drywall surfaces.

Venice is a city in northeastern Italy, at the top of the “boot”.

The main method for applying Venetian plaster to a wall involves using a putty knife, putty knife, or trowel to apply the plaster in thin, successive layers that you can dry individually before adding the next layer. The initial layers need to be thinner and smoother than the later layers for the plaster to adhere effectively to the wall over time. As additional layers of Venetian plaster are applied, the goal is not to create a smooth surface, but to work patterns and textures into the plaster that are maintained after it has dried. A final thin layer of Venetian plaster is applied to seal surface imperfections, and after drying, the surface is usually sanded lightly to polish and remove any imperfections that could cause chipping or cracking.

Latex paints tend to work well with Venetian plaster.

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Using the Venetian plaster technique, whether for wall or ceiling finishing, can also involve the use of paint. Instead of using plaster, or in addition to that, the paint itself can be applied with a spatula to the wall surface at a small angle in successive layers, giving the end an appearance of texture and subtlety. Using paint produces a thinner surface than plaster because of its lower viscosity, and latex paints, which are thicker than enamel-based paints, tend to be more effective. A hybrid method includes applying the venetian plaster itself and then following with a venetian paint as a finish, although some painting projects use a regular primer before applying the venetian plaster technique with the paint. The more time spent working the repeating patterns on the surface, whether using paint or plaster, the better it will look when finished, and generally speaking, the appearance tends to be that of artificial aging of the wall or ceiling surface.

As the Venetian plaster technique has been practiced for over 500 years, several different branches of the method have formed with individual stories. The Marmorino look is based on a popular Renaissance design that used crushed marble and lime putty for surfaces that allowed for a wide range of color and texture combinations that resemble the look of natural stone. Scagliola is another branch that is focused on sharp edges and inlays such as are seen on columns and sculptures, and was a dominant form of stucco plastering in 17 th -century Tuscany in west-central Italy.

Sgraffito most strongly resembles typical Venetian plaster in shape, but is often used in pottery pottery as well, and incorporates fine scratches into the surface. The use of Sgraffito is popular in African art and has been dominant in Europe since the 16th century. Tadelakt is another technique related to the Venetian plaster methodology, originated in the palaces of Morocco in North Africa. The end result with Tadelakt is one of smooth waves and flowing shapes on the surface of a wall or ceiling, like the patterns of the ocean or the growth patterns of trees and vines.

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