WHAT: A powder usually including a finely ground stone (sand and limestone are most common) mixed with water to form a paste that is applied to walls to harden or shaped into decorative moldings and adornments for walls and ceilings.
HISTORY: Mixing stone powder with water resulting in plaster has been around as long as, well, stones and water. But once humans arrived on the scene we could finally do something with it. There are different types of plaster – generally depending on use and what exactly it is made from, but we’re talking about the type that goes on walls primarily today. If you’ve ever seen the inside of walls in an old building with horizontal timbers (laths) oozing with lime plaster – this is what was used until drywall was introduced in the 1950s. Plaster is applied in multiple coats by an experienced artisan- the benefits to plaster are fire-resistance, better insulation for sound and air, and it is highly durable – if it doesn’t move.
USES: Plaster has been used to build entire structures like earthen dwellings, mold statues, and as a fire retardant. But I’m focusing on the wall treatment in this post. While there are products out there that seek to replicate the look of plaster, true plasterwork is a highly specialized craft. Plaster gives your walls a depth and luminosity that paint could never achieve. But despite its benefits and superior aesthetics, it is labor-intensive and time consuming. Venetian plaster has marble dust in the mixture and is polished to a high shine. While plaster is a old-world technique, it can be used in a modern way.
The original walls of the house are tsuchi-kabe (mud plastered), a traditional technique used in old houses. For an updated look, the walls were covered with shikui, or traditional Japanese plaster in this Japanese storefront featured on Remodelista.
Pronounce: A-glo-mees-A (hard "A" sounds)
What: Back-painted glass so design show through on front using gold- & silver-leaf.
History: There is a long tradition of this technique in Italy, examples as far back as pre-Roman times. It was revived in Italy in the 13th century and then again by Jean-Baptiste Glomy, a French art dealer and decorator to which the technique received it’s name.
Use: Used to gussy-up furniture, mirrors, frames, and other decorative objects. Since it is made with gold & silver-leaf it is not inexpensive. But it adds dimension and layers to an object that nothing else can. Great for adding a bit of glam to a space or introducing furniture that is not visually heavy. Light bounces around and is softer than plain mirror or glass.
1. Ribbon Fringe from House of Passementerie 2. Gimp from Samuel & Sons 3. Rosette by Samuel & Sons 4. Tieback from Spina 5. Tassel from House of Passementerie 6. Tape trim with Jute Embroidery from Samuel & Sons 7. Flat Braid from Samuel & Sons 8. Piping from Houles
What: Ornamental edging and trims applied to curtains and furniture, often just called “trimmings” today.
History: Passementerie origin is in France, the first known use is in the 18th century. No doubt to adorn lavish homes and people’s clothing. There are several different kinds of trimmings that are considered passementerie: gimp, braids, trims, tapes, fringe, tassels, cords, piping, & tie-backs and further descriptions include the materials used: embroidered, beaded, pom-pom, leather, etc. For example you can have leather tassels and leather piping, there are fringe pom-poms, and pom-pom trim.
Use: Some passementerie is purely ornamental and others serve a purpose, such as preventing a cord from unraveling or tying back curtains. Since people are living much simpler today passementerie is used less often and is generally not as fancy as it once was. Simple trim around a lampshade or to frame and finish a wallpaper. A 2″ plain braid placed on the leading edge of curtains or a border around pillows. Passementerie can add a small amount of detail that will finish a space. Keep it tone on tone if you’re afraid of commitment. You can also add a tassel to your furniture key or tiebacks.
What: Tree of Life, this is a difficult one to describe in just a few sentences, but it is a common motif represented in many cultures, countries, ideologies and religions. Usually represented with roots in the earth, a strong trunk, and branches climbing into the sky. Often though these elements are present, it may not appear very tree-like because the tree of life can be geometric, abstract, modern or naturalistic. Often there are animals or birds near the tree or in the branches. History: The concept of the tree of life spans cultures, countries, and religions. Some intrepretations are: evolution, underworld-earth-heaven, interconnectedness of all living beings, gifts from God, humanity, soul-physical body, and divinity. If you’d like to see how far-reaching the tree of life is check out its wikipedia page. Because the tree of life is a concept held by many people it is widely available as a design on tapestries, textiles, pots, paintings, rugs and many other decorative objects from all corners of the globe. Use: The tree of life is depicted on many different types of decorative objects. It can be placed almost anywhere in your home from rugs on the floor to a textile hung on the wall. It is widely reproduced on fabric and wallpaper. You can find it on objects from Turkey, Greece, India, China, Ancient Egypt, Ireland, and so many more. So whatever your style, you’ll find a tree of life for your tastes.