Fibrous plastering is a technique that involves moulding decorative plaster pieces over a canvas backing and a wood or metal frame. This produces lightweight, inexpensive moulding, trim and decorative cornices that are easy to install. The technique was developed in the 19th century to make decorating theatres and homes easier. Whether you are making your own fibrous plaster pieces or installing pre-made moulding, there are a few specialised tools you will need.
Making new fibrous plaster pieces from scratch requires an original and a mould because the plaster part of the piece is poured like in other plaster applications. Moulds can be made from a variety of materials, including resin, fibreglass and rubber. Compounds are available for making a cast from an existing fibrous plaster piece. These moulds are the most important tools for restoring and replacing antique fibrous plaster pieces in restored theatres and museums.
Nails and screws
Once a fibrous plaster piece is dried and ready for installation, it must be attached to the ceiling or wall with a specially designed adhesive. But in most cases adhesive alone is not enough and screws or nails must be used to secure it as well. Nailing or screwing fasteners into a delicate piece of fibrous plaster requires a steady hand. Using a quality drill that does not disturb your aim with strong vibrations will prevent you from damaging or cracking the plaster. A small metal nail set should be used with a hammer to keep the tool from making contact with the plaster.
During the installation process of fibrous plaster moulding or cornice, a thin and even layer of adhesives must be applied. A putty or filing knife is the best tool for this job. When a mitre cut must be made to join two pieces in a corner, the small gap between the two must be filled with liquid plaster and shaped to look natural. A joint or filing knife works best for this job as well.
Heavy-duty shop vacuum
Whether you are making, installing or repairing fibrous plaster, gypsum dust will be created that will coat every surface where you are working. A heavy-duty workshop vacuum, preferably fitted with vacuum bags to trap the dust, must be used to clean up. The dust created by fibrous plaster is so fine that it will completely clog the filter on a conventional vacuum in just a few minutes and burn the motor up. Filters on workshop vacuums will also quickly become clogged unless a bag is used inside the canister.
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