What is Venetian plaster?
Venetian plaster is a renowned Italian feature wall and ceiling plaster that can be applied to create a stone, marble or concrete-like look quickly, on a nominal thickness. Venetian plaster can be used as a durable, eco-friendly and light-weight decorative solution that can last hundreds of years.
We can discern between traditional, lime-based and acrylic Venetian plasters and even though many of them can produce the same look, they can be of completely different consistency, with different characteristics. These differences help the applicators to choose the right plaster for their style and specifier to find the plaster with the right characteristic with the same look.
Venetian plaster can be considered an applied art and is generally applied by specialists to the skill level and experience needed to create a specified look.
What is the origin of Venetian plaster?
Venetian plaster originates from ancient Rome; Vitruvius, in his De Architettura was the first to write about the compact, decorative lime finishes applied on 8 coats on the exterior of noble houses. Sometimes people confuse the origins of Venetian plaster with that of lime and state that it comes from ancient Egypt, but that’s not true. Egypt didn’t have marble quarries, unlike Italy, so it’s impossible that it could have developed a finish without resources that would be naturally available.
In the 16th century Venetian plaster was revived by Andrea Palladio, who re-discovered these decorative plasters when he was searching for light-weight solutions for houses in Venice. Basically the left-over marble dust from marble quarries in Italy was used to imitate the look of real marble, without it’s weight or cost.
The third, modern age of Venetian plaster started when the famous architect, Carlo Scarpa, influenced by Japanese minimalism and Italian ingenuity developed and started to use acrylic and some lime-based Venetian plasters. One of the best Venetian plaster feature walls can be seen in the Olivetti shop in Venice, close to the St Mark Square.
What is Venetian plaster made of?
Natural Venetian plaster is essentially hydrated lime, mixed with marble grain or powder, pigments and organic binders (like animal glue or casein) to create a soft putty. Depending on the grain and other additives, it can create high-gloss or textured stone, marble or -nowadays- even concrete-like finishes.
Acrylic plasters are made of resins which acts as the base binder and then it can be enriched with various aggregates, like silicates, marble or other stones.
Although originally Venetian plasters have been coloured with raw earth pigments, over time various, simpler methods came into fashion, culminating in the machine-dispensed liquid solutions used by Impera Italia. Our colouring machines can dispense a quarter of a milligram consistently and can combine many different pigments to achieve the final specified colours. It’s important to mention that our Venetian plaster pigments are all oxide or earth-based to ensure excellent colour depth and resistance. If you can’t find the right colours or colourants from our standard selection, we also offer Venetian plaster colour match solutions.
Venetian plaster tools
If you would like to apply Venetian plasters in the UK, Europe or any other part of the world you will be using special tools, that have evolved hand-in-hand with this prestigious material. Trowels were originally developed in Italy and the plasterers soon discovered that trowels with curved edges and round corners could the most beneficial tools for the Venetian plastering trade. The key characteristic of Venetian plaster trowels is that they doesn’t scratch the surface of the finish and enable the applicator to create an extremely smooth, glossy or textured, stone-like surface by a process called ‘burnishing’.
By choosing Italian Venetian plasters by Impera Italia you can make sure that you use original materials of highest quality directly from Italy, with the best workability, shelf life and appearance on the UK or any market.