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Clay Plaster Workshop Wrap-Up

Clay Plaster Workshop group photo

Endeavour’s first clay finish plasters workshop achieved its goal: to infect more people with the urge to cover walls with clay! The workshop participants spent a full day learning about mixes and application techniques and playing with a wide range of natural colours. Then we spent a day plastering a room in a home to get a “real world” sense of preparing, applying and detailing an actual home project.

Day one started in our new shop space, where we are able to spread out all the materials and equipment needed for a day of plastering fun. Materials, mix ratios, surface preparation, pigments and techniques were all covered so the playing could start in earnest!

Colour samples made using natural pigments

At the mixing station

We concentrated on making very small samples to begin, allowing people to see how the pigments work and try out some troweling on very small pieces of drywall.

At the pigment centre, trying to choose!

The next step was to mix a larger batch of the chosen colour and apply it to a sample board on the wall. Each person had multiple sample boards to experiment with.

Applying clay plaster on a sample board

The remainder of the day was spent working on sample boards, trying out different colours and different troweling techniques.

Mixing clay finish plaster

The next task was to learn how to calculate the mix formula to be able to cover larger areas. We mixed the plaster for the next day’s room, using the square footage of the room and a formula for knowing how much material to mix. Since it is preferable to mix clay plasters the day before using them, this is how we ended the day on Saturday.

On Sunday, we showed up to prepare and plaster a room in a home. After masking and protecting the floor, the plastering began. Working on a real room is helpful, as dealing with corners, trim and in this case a tricky chimney section really helps develop the skills necessary to undertake one’s own projects.

Clay plastering a room

Working in a real room also helps to develop a sense of the timing required to keep wet edges, deal with corners and know how long a job might take. Our amazing crew had this room done in just a few hours!

Jen stencilling clay plaster

Then it was back to the shop for a bit more fun. We looked at stencilling clay plaster (using a finer mix) over our samples. We also played with texturing on top of existing samples and techniques like scrafito (scratching away one coat to reveal the colour coat beneath) and carving (removing parts of one layer to reveal the layer beneath).

Stencilling clay plaster

By far, the stencilling was the most popular technique. It’s quick and easy and the results look great!

A stencilled clay plaster design

After the workshop, we went back to take some photos of the finished room. The owners were thrilled with the results. There’s nothing like clay plaster to make a room beautiful, warm and inviting!

Finished clay plaster bedroom

Our thanks to all the participants who came out for this workshop! We had a great time, and look forward to offering this workshop again!

Tadelakt Workshop Wrap-Up

Our first workshop at Endeavour, Tadelakt and Advanced Lime Plastering, was a great success!

Tadelakt is a historical means of applying and treating lime plasters to make them waterproof. Originating in Morocco, the plasters are applied in successive thin layers, troweled smooth and then burnished with hard stones using an olive oil soap. The soap and the lime have a chemical reaction that creates the waterproofing. The soap and stone burnishing also creates a beautiful, glassy finish that is amazing to see and touch!

Over five days, instructor Ryan Chivers taught our group of intrepid plasterers a remarkable amount about lime and lime plastering. Here’s a quick look at what we covered in the workshop…

A Tadelakt Workshop Gallery
A Bit About Lime

The process of actually mixing the plaster is the same that we’ve experienced with clay and lime cement plasters. One of the best things Ryan taught us was that the need to “slake” lime into a putty is really not necessary with modern, Type S lime. Modern, north american limes are processed in such a way that they are fully hydrated at the manufacturer using heat and pressure. This greatly simplifies the process of working with lime plasters of all types as the weeks or months of slaking in water are eliminated. However, the plasters do want to be mixed at least a few hours before use as the lime does take some time to fully take up the water that’s been added. We mixed a day ahead of ourselves throughout the workshop.

 Applying Lime Plaster

Our first plastering was not tadelakt, but a finish lime plaster that was applied directly over painted drywall. The walls were prepared by painting on a mix of white glue and sand, which gave adhesion for the plaster. We then applied two very thin coats of lime. This system was very quick (a 12×15 room took about 1 hour for 2 people to apply, per coat). We’ll post finished pictures of the room once it’s all cured.

Practicing Tadelakt

Tadelakt is all about timing! You could read about doing tadelakt forever, but it’s all about timing, feel and doing the right thing at the right time. Luckily, Ryan was great at preparing us for what to expect at each stage. By practicing first on our tiles and cob balls, everybody began to understand the stages of tadelakt and how to know when it was time to move on.

Applying Tadelakt

We did one tadelakt wall in a “dry” area of the house. To be fully waterproof, the tadelakt must be done just right, so we had one wall that will not be exposed to direct water on which to practice. And it’s a good thing… it really does take a lot of practice (much more than one wall!) to get a feel for the technique.

Tadelakt Shower/Bathroom

Tadelakt is beautiful anywhere, but in bathrooms, showers and other wet areas it mixes beauty and functionality like no other natural material.

The timing for tadelakt gets more complex the more surface area there is to cover. In this bathroom, we had several different substrates under the tadelakt which all affected the timing, and we had many people applying, troweling, stoning and soaping. The result, however, is a wonderful, rich, shiny plaster!

In the end, the crew did an amazing job. We’ve all been promised a nice hot shower in the finished bathroom to appreciate our work!

We’ll post photos of the finished bathroom when it’s ready. The tadelakt takes 28 days to fully cure…

Our thanks to Ryan for teaching a terrific workshop and to all the participants for so much fun, hard work and learning together!