The first step with any plaster work is to get the mix right. This means some experimentation. Every bit of clay is different, so you have to dial in the right recipe. We’re also using wheat flour glue–yes, that stuff you had in first grade for art projects comes in handy. Recipes vary here, too, but I’ve found this works best:
- Boil 1 quart of water (four cups).
- For every quart, mix 1 cup flour into cold water — add to the boiling water.
- Cook until the mix starts to turn translucent.
Cool and add to the plaster in whatever mix works best. For the plaster, we’re using chopped straw to add extra strength, and the wheat paste also works well to bond plaster to wood.
To help the plaster stick to any larger bits of wood–or stick to metal–we’re using burlap. The burlap comes from recycled coffee bags, and we’re thinking about using any extras for decoration as well–they’re terrific.
For the next coat, we’re using finer sand (sifting it in the screen we made with scrap wood and window screen–it fits perfect over a wheel barrow to make sifting easy). And fine chopped straw. We’ll then add an aliz on to top to seal and protect the plaster–more on that recipe soon.
We’re also going to hold our first workshop on plastering on September 28, 29 and 30 of 2012. The workshop fee will be $195, and will include Friday dinner, and lunch on both Saturday and Sunday. The workshop will cover hands on work making: Clay Slips, Plaster, Light Clay, and Aliz coverings. We’ll also look at natural pigments and we’ll do some plaster work inside the lodge. Friday will be just a meet and greet day, with the real work on Saturday and Sunday. Plan to wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and bring jackets for the evening and work boots. And we’ll see you in September. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or sign up on the Workshop Registration page.