January 25, 2010

stucco layers

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

Will I ever be finished with the stucco job? Not for a couple of days more of work. It is very labor intensive to create the layers of texture, the cracks, the color washes and to pick off all the bits and blogs that get on the timbers. It is at least 40 hours, probably more like 60 to create this kind of look for stucco for a small cottage. No one part of the job is difficult but it is tedious work.

I had to invent a custom stucco putty mixture for the top layer of plaster. I needed something that was water resistant so it would not melt away the crisp edges of the broken plaster look when I applied washes. Spackle will lose its hard edges. It needed to be a smooth plaster with little grit in it.  I could not have any shine to this layer and I had to be able to carve it. It needed to be basically white in color but able to absorb the acrylic color washes without melting or bringing up a shine. Hooray I managed to accomplish that which I set out to do. Now that is a good day in the workshop.

So in order not to forget what I use for the top stucco layer I had better document it here. It is Golden Brand, light acrylic modeling paste into which I stir Lightweight Hydrocal Plaster. Do not add any water to the mix. You want a thick mixture that can be trowel onto the walls. When dry your mix should look and feel like plaster and not like the more rubbery feel of the acrylic modeling paste. The acrylic paste prevents the plaster from being fragile and cracking, it also makes it so that the plaster does not melt, dissolve, when you put a watery acrylic paint wash on the dry surface. As both the plaster and the acrylic modeling paste have a surface quality that will absorb paint rather than having it just lie there on the surface you get a very realistic look of time worn, lime washed plaster rather than having unrealistic thick paint on your project.

I put the sink in this photo, when I took it's portrait the other day the camera made the color too deep a brown. It is much more of a light grey with some browns. The sink fits right in with the monochromatic color scheme of the structure. The stone of the sink relates very well to the timbers and to the stucco. The natural edge on the sink front also works with those elements.

Back to work, another day of stucco tomorrow but I will break it up with a few other tasks on the dollhouse to relieve the boredom. What many people don't realize is that a great deal of the hours of work on dollhouses is not very exciting. I find the best fun is the research, the dreaming, the planning and the inventing of new materials and methods of construction.