stucco veneziano part one

We’re going bold and complimentary to the brick with a teal venetian plaster. I love to create and apply the plaster. The art is ancient, from before the Romans, who as usual, copied it from the Greeks. The mixing is time consuming and meditative. I mix the plaster by hand in the same bucket I was given as an apprentice when we first stucco’d our building’s hallways in the early 1990’s. I’ve kept that stucco bucket all these years and I carefully scrap and clean it and put it away after each use. It is stained with the patina of all the colors I’ve ever mixed in it starting with the first butter yellow of our hallways.

I don’t know where this recipe originated. I’m sure that if venetian plaster artisans ever saw  it, they would either snicker or groan. The ancient recipes include lime and marble dust. This is the recipe that was taught me so that I could help do our building’s hallways and it is the recipe that I have always used. It works, it holds up. The hallway stucco is twenty years old and it has only been refreshed once.

stucco veneziano in our hallway 1996

Here is the recipe: Mix 1 part flat paint and 1 part water. Add a dollop of wallpaper paste (the natural kind, called wheat paste). Mix in plaster of paris little by little as if you were mixing cake batter till smooth. Finish by adding a splash of milk to keep the plaster from hardening too quickly. Only mix a little at a time at first till you get the hang of the time it takes to harden and how fast you can get it up. Use a real stucco knife imported from Italy. You will not be able to get it smooth enough with any other tool. If you want to repost this recipe, please link back to this post. 

It’s really hard to find the old-fashioned wallpaper paste that was made out of wheat. Now what they sell is full of chemicals. I had to make my own. I found this recipe. It was very easy and it is a good recipe to have if you ever need to make papier mache.

adding the plaster to the paint mixture

it feels like a cake batter

add a splash of milk to keep it from hardening too quickly

applying the plaster with a stucco knife

Next up will be the finishing touches and the “after photos”. Stay tuned.

19 thoughts on “stucco veneziano part one

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  6. Wow, the recipe is not that far off. I learned this in school for historical restoration ( Stuttgard Germany ). We used Lye soap and instead of just milk, butter milk. Thats do to the fat content and calcium for binding. This recipe is hundreds of years old.

    • Hi Michael, thank you so much for writing. Your comment made my day. I was glad to hear that what I’m doing is not so crazy. I will try the buttermilk the next time.

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    • Hello Bethany. Thanks for reading. It holds up great in a bathroom. I had stucco in my bathroom for about 15 years and it looked good. No change to the recipe. Just make sure that you put the top coat of the ivory soap on it and no direct hits of water just as with any surface that is not a tile surface. Good luck!

    • Because this is a recipe that is extremely reminiscent of the ancient recipe, it should be extremely durable and do great in humid environments. It is, after all, “Venetian” plaster. Any plaster that can last hundreds and hundreds of years on a city built on top of water would have to be able to take the wet.

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