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.

lights and action

There is movement and decisiveness in the entryway re-do. The teardrop chandelier has been installed. The sleek and skinny glass table from Crate and Barrel has been delivered. The wall opposite the brick will be a rich deep blue stucco veneziano. I will experiment with mixing in mica flakes for a subtle shimmer to catch the light.

teardrop chandelier

The stars of the entryway will be the wall of family photographs. Here are two that I’ve picked out for framing. The grandmother (left) as a teenager riding with her cousin in El Bosque de la Habana.  Below, the grandaughter makes the funny face that would send her beloved abuela into peels of laughter every time.

knits for winter bike riding

I started commuting by bike only last spring. With the MTA monthly pass going up to over $100, and lots of new bike lanes to make it safer to ride in a crowded city, the decision was made. I walked over to Recycle-A-Bicycle on Loisaida Avenue and bought myself a beautiful recycled purple Schwinn for the price of two monthly passes.

Now I dread when it’s raining and I have to ride the crowded and lumbering crosstown bus to work. I’ve been riding all winter and have knit some accessories to keep me warm.

Taking the advice of For the Love of Bikes blogger Vanessa Marie Robinson in this post, I made myself a big enough cowl to cover my face in the wind and a wool headband to use under my vented helmet.

Here is the extremely simple pattern for the extra long cowl:

2 skeins of Malabrigo Merino Worsted
Cast on 72 stitches on US 9 – 5.5mm 16 inch circular needles
Join the stitches and knit 4 rows then purl 4 rows until you use up the 2 skeins. That’s it.

O is the model. The cowl is Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Frank Ochre

I adapted the very popular Calorimetry pattern at for a narrower headband. I used Noro Kureyon (which I encourage you to buy at your local yarn store). You can make two headbands from one skein.

Noro Kureyon yarn. Sheep stitch markers and rosewood needles from Lantern Moon

Calorimetry headbands in Noro Kureyon yarn with seashell buttons

Here is how I adapted the pattern for the Calorimetry headband:

Instead of casting on 120 stitches, I cast on 80
On Row 5, instead of repeating that row 15 times, I repeated it 8 times.
On Row 7, I just repeated that row till there were no more stitches left outside the markers.

Calorimetry headband fits perfectly under a vented helmet and covers your ears

choosing paint colors with apps

I’ve turned to technology in my quest for the right entryway color. We are going to go bold and if you remember from this post, O wanted a citron color for the wall. I got Keith’s two cents – he votes for a primary red wall in high gloss. Mrs. Limestone, design maven from the Brooklyn Limestone blog, kindly emailed me with the idea of going with a dark color and using the citron as an accent color for the door moldings. I wanted to visualize the different scenarios before committing, so I pulled out my phone.

Top from left: before photo, citron, vermillion. Bottom from left: chartreause, seaweed, tucson teal

I’m using the Benjamin Moore Color Capture app as the jump off. You can take a photo of anything. Say, you are walking down the street and see a poster with a color you love – you snap and capture it. Then you can move your finger over the photo and the colors in it will translate into Benjamin Moore paint colors. When you like a color, you tap it twice and it will save as a “combo” along with the source photo. You can always return to the source photo and save even more colors to the combo. You can also search a color wheel. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can just have someone pick up that can of color from the store on the way home. Easy, but not that easy. You are looking at a digital version of paint so that the color chip will not be an exact match. You still have to go to the paint store and look at paper chips to find the right color.

Next, I wanted to see what the colors would look like against the brick wall so I researched apps for that and found Paint Tester. Not only was it simple to use, it was really fun. You take a photo of the room you want to paint. You choose a color from their grid or you can choose a color from another source such as your photo library. In my case I painted with the Benjamin Moore colors that I’d saved in my library from my combos. Once you’ve chosen the paint color, you pick whether you want to paint with a bucket for large swaths or a brush. Pick the brush. You can adjust the size of the brush. Pick a small brush. Then you tap on the screen and cover the wall with little squares of paint color. You can enlarge your photo to help you stay neat as you tap away. You can also clean up paint jobs with an eraser.

What do you think, shall we go with the citron, the red? Something else?

just tap the paint color into your photo