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Plaster is a kind of mortar used to coat walls, ceilings, pillars and so forth. It gives them their final shape, texture and desired level of smoothness. Plasterwork provides the finishing to decorative architectural features such as columns, cornices, mouldings and vaulting. Traditionally, several layers of plaster are applied, which makes it possible to obtain various surfaces and create elements which fulfil various roles in the overall final effect.
There are also different kinds of special plasters which produce specific finishes. Those known as ‘stippled’ and ‘pitted’ number among the most familiar.
In the case of plasterwork with salt, a raw, single-coat, rough plaster render is applied. It consists of rock salt chips and powder, wallpaper paste and water and the consistency depends on the desired effect. The coating is applied to a wall or ceiling using a masonry trowel. It is laid on in wide strokes, creating a slight relief. Another variant is a raw rendered wall created by applying the plaster and then smoothing it with a masonry trowel. This creates a more even surface than the first method, leaving only traces of the smoothing process. A third variant also consists of a single layer of plaster, which is laid on and then roughly smoothed using a plasterer’s finishing, or float, trowel.
However, because salt plasterwork adheres rather less firmly than other mixes, it is not recommended for application directly onto the surface. A proper base needs to be prepared. Given the properties of salt, the most suitable choice is fibreglass mesh of the kind used for insulating buildings. This is fixed to the floor by means of special nails, staples or hooks.
Begin by laying on the salt mix in strips, starting at the bottom and sweeping the masonry trowel upwards. These strips divide the wall into smaller fields which are easier to fill in with the plaster. The most crucial aspect of plastering is the way in which the mix is applied with the trowel. It should adhere to the entire surface of the base.
Stippled plasters are obtained by applying a mix of a thinner consistency using a bundle of birch twigs. This is dipped in the container holding the thin mixture and then tapped against a rod set up by the wall. The droplets this casts fall onto the surface, covering it in an evenly spread, textured relief of average-sized granules.
A special, hand-held device can also be used to achieve a stippled coating. With this kind of stippling, gaining the right experience is crucial, since that will make it possible to obtain a uniform texture.
A more delicate texture can be attained by using a stiff brush dipped in a thin coating and then dragging a stick through its bristles. Another interesting texture can be obtained by dragging a steel comb or a piece of wood with nails hammered into it through the freshly applied plaster. If those same tools are applied at a right-angle, then a pitted plaster can be produced and, by adding colours to the mix, a multicoloured composition can be created.
Imaginatively applied, salt plasterwork can create spectacular surroundings. However, it cannot generate the salt aerosol essential to halotherapy. Only a halogenerator can do that.
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