Sunday, January 24, 2016

Making Plaster Moulding

The project which I have been working on for the past 4 months has given me a chance to practice a lot of different skills that I have developed over the years, not all of which are actually related to furniture or woodworking. However, I am not just a furniture maker, I am an artist. One thing that I like about being an artist, is the chance to discover and try new techniques and methods of doing things.

Such has recently been the case, because I have been teaching myself how to make plaster moulding. I am sure that I read, many years ago, that this type of moulding is called "struck moulding", but I have been unable to verify that at present. Simply put, the process  consists of making a template out of a thin material (metal) and passing it over the wet plaster. There are a lot of subtleties to the process, however, and I am sure I have barely scratched the surface of discovering them. I have managed to figure out enough, though, in order to get the job done. Below are some photos of the process, and some of the resulting product.

To make a curved piece of moulding is much more challenging than making
a straight section; unfortunately, I needed arches, so I had to jump in at the
deep end. If  I were to start over with this, I would have made and arm which
pivoted from a centre point, but I did not think of it until after I was finished.

My regular readers will already be aware that another of the skills that I posses,
is that of metalworking. This skill comes in handy when one needs to make
templates. I first used a pair of snips to cut as much material away as possible.

I then used a file to finish up the shape according to the profile I desired.
There was no "right or wrong" for this profile because I invented it...

But this one had to follow an existing section of moulding; looks like it does.

Making the moulding cannot be done in one pass, it must be built up and allowed
to set before another layer can be laid down, otherwise there is too much material
squishing around. I put a section of rope into the wet plaster for strength.

After the second pass the moulding begins to take shape, but it is still not perfect.

The third coat is a thin layer spread out all over the moulding.

One final quick pass with the template makes a finished piece of moulding.
This is one half of the large flat arch going into the vestibule.
After three or four days it will be dry enough to crack free from the varnish which
I applied to the area of the table, covered by the plaster.

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