Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Visit from the lime plaster expert

I had a visit from Bob Bennett on Monday. He is Britain's recognised expert on lime plaster and an MBE. He was responsible, among other things, for the restoration of the plaster in Windsor castle after the devastating fire and was a hands-on plasterer there. He is an interesting and unusual man. He runs the lime centre near Winchester where I get my plaster.

Tips from the expert

Bob seemed impressed with my frescoes. He gave me a few tips. One of them was this. I'd plastered my new porcelain tiles on the reverse side ready for fresco work and asked him if the tiles were OK. He took an unplastered one and licked his finger and dabbed it on the reverse side. "No this is not absorbent enough" he said "See the wet dab is still sitting there. It should be sucked away by the absorbent surface. So you must coat it with Unibond (PVA wood glue) first, and that will be OK." So I scraped the plaster off and will start again! Another tip was to colour the plaster before I lay it on. Say a light grey for the top and green for the bottom if you are planning to paint a landscape.

Bob particularly liked the nude, which is on my Fresco visiting card. The card shows the fresco below which was painted on a roof tile and taken from a sketch I made from life in California. In 2005 I painted a large fresco on board - one of my first frescoes and had problems with the fresco peeling off the board. Since then I have found the way to prepare a board for fresco using tar paper and expanded metal lath.

Bob and I talked about producing a plastering book on similar lines to Illustrated Fluteplaying which I co-authored with Robin Soldan. I hope we can do this.

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