Tips on How to Preserve Classical Ornamental Plaster Designs

Blog |May 28th, 2018

Plaster is a beautiful and elegant, albeit fragile thing. While it has a capacity to endure for a long time under specific conditions, it isn’t as hardy as stone or metal, and will eventually wear out. Plaster is also quite fragile, and blunt trauma can cause it to crack or chip.

Considering its fragile nature, a lot of people may actually think that investing in plaster ornaments and décor is a bad idea, however, there is a secret to preserving plaster items, and if it worked for the Romans, Etruscans, and Greeks, it can work for you as well!

Here are some tips on how to preserve classical ornamental plaster designs:

• Identify the type of piece – identifying whether or not the plaster ornament you have is of any value or not is the first deciding factor in its overall care. Very old pieces will require expert care and maintenance, and no DIY methods should be employed in case they become irreparably damaged. It is also a good idea to know whether or not your plaster piece is sealed or unsealed that is because it will help you to identify which cleaning and maintenance methods is best for it.

• The varnishing method – one method that you can use to help prolong the life of plaster ornaments and to prevent them from becoming easily damaged is to varnish the piece in celluloid varnish. Earlier methods employed shellac varnishes, while more modern sealants like automotive lacquer can also be used. It should be noted that these methods should never be used on antique plaster ornaments of any value.
Varnishing a plaster pieces will protect it from moisture damage and superficial scratching, but it will not weather-proof it.

• The hardening method – an old-fashioned method of hardening plaster involves combining potassium alum and gypsum into a solution that is then cooked or boiled together. The resulting substance is then painted all over the surface of a plaster piece, much like a varnish. This reacts naturally with the plaster and creates a quick-setting, hard, and matte surface very much like marble. While this method is perfect for both indoor décor and outdoor pieces, it will require a little bit of experimentation to get the proper consistency.

Plaster pieces are an excellent addition to any home, whether it’s some wall sconces, a slip-cast bust, or some figurines, as it has always been seen as a hallmark of class, gentility, and refinement that everyone can enjoy.

If you’re looking for wonderful plaster pieces for your home, or want to know more about the advantages of the material and its myriad applications, then visit us here at Hopkins Plaster Studio today.

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