Historically, plasters were mixtures of ground and burnt limestones, sands and water. Ancient Egyptians used gypsum plasters extensively for the highly decorative, painted architectural surfaces. A large deposit of gypsum (calcium sulfate, CaSO4) in Montemarte, Paris, led to the common name “Plaster of Paris”. The art of creating faux stone, or Scagliola, with a composite of plaster chips, ground gypsum and glue was used for centuries in Europe and was popular in the United States during the early 20th century. Due to the fragility, ease of soiling of unprotected surfaces, and for aesthetics, most plaster surfaces were coated and commonly painted.

Plaster sculptures and architectural detail are typically brittle and structurally weak, often containing internal armatures of metal or wood for added support. Plaster surfaces are highly absorptive, making plaster objects susceptible to moisture exposure, including humidity. Damp conditions induce swelling of interior wood armatures and corrosion and expansion of metals that result in staining and cracking. Damp and differential expansion coefficients can lead to plaster coating loss, cracking and failure. Treatment can require cleaning, consolidation and repair of the plaster, armatures and coatings. Long term stabilization requires appropriate environmental controls that regulate humidity, temperature and light exposure.

Conserve ART provides the following services:

  • Collections Assessments
  • Material Analysis
  • Coating Analysis
  • Cleaning
  • Friable Surface Consolidation
  • Paint Consolidation
  • Crack Injections
  • Mending
  • Plaster Fills
  • In-Painting
  • Display Consultation



Website designed by Harris Web Works