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Archive for May, 2009

The first day started with introductions to several key plaster professionals within the shop, which included shop manager Nathan Frey, jobsite manager Scott Aldrich and of course owner/president Foster Reeve. These professionals are on top of their game and I’m sure I will learn from their expertise.

 

One of multiple clay panels sculpted by Foster Reeve associate Kathleen.

One of multiple clay panels sculpted by Foster Reeve associate Kathleen.

After meeting several other plasterers in the shop, I was instructed to start flattening the clay that would be used by one of the sculptors, Kathleen. These large, floor-to-ceiling panels will eventually be cast in plaster and used to line the walls of a client’s dining room. The device used to flatten the clay was a large press consisting of rollers that diminished the height of the clay with every pass. I wish Kathleen all of the luck in completing this project for it looked like a daunting task.

Several clay slabs were rolled out and I was then instructed to cast an eight-foot cornice from a reverse mould running. We did something similar to this in school, but this piece was much more complicated. Due to the projecting cove of the running and its flanking undercuts, I encountered some difficulty with the burlap pushing through. Unlike the single layer of burlap we use in school to support our plaster runnings and castings, they use two sheets, which actually makes more sense and provides better support; however, the increased weight of the extra burlap layer also tends to push the burlap through the first coat of plaster, called the “gel coat,” if you are not patient enough. I learned from this mistake and I look forward to attempting this piece again.

The rest of the day was spent making casts of existing moulds and preparing new sculpted pieces for the silicone rubber which will form the moulds. The material used for their moulds was created by several former employees of a company that produced the material we used in our mould at school. Apparently, this stuff is cheaper, easier to use and performs similar, if not better, in maintaining the shape of the original sculpture, as well as in releasing the plaster casts. I received many pointers from a fellow plasterer, Garret, who has made countless moulds and casts.

The whole crew at Foster Reeve is very professional and extremely helpful. They seem to recognize my previous experience, but they also realize that I have a lot to learn and are willing to help me along. I thank them for their assistance and for not giving me a hard time for being a little rusty in certain areas.

 

A plaster cast was made from this reverse mould. This was a little tricky to produce due to the undercuts and the center cove.

A plaster cast was made from this reverse mould. This was a little tricky to produce due to the undercuts and the center cove.

 

The egg-and-dart enrichment seen above its yellow, silicone rubber reverse mould.

The egg-and-dart enrichment seen above its yellow, silicone rubber reverse mould.

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I originally intended to post a daily update of my internship progress, but this past week was pretty hectic as far as settling in and spending time with my wife Katerina while she was here. Now that she has abandoned me to go back home to Charleston, I have a bit more time to report on the extraordinary experience I have encountered thus far.

Aside from the welcomed accompaniment of Katerina, I haven’t been unable to process the photographs I’ve taken of the work I’ve been completing. I’ve posted a few in the posts to follow.

I really enjoyed my first week with Foster Reeve and Associates and I believe that I will learn quite a bit in the next nine weeks.

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This is the beginning of the 9 week journey! Katerina and I left first thing this morning for Brooklyn where she’ll join me for a week. We stopped off in DC to spend some time with her brother Carlo and his family and then it’s off to Rumson, NJ where we’ll spend time with my brother Tom and his family.
Big things ahead and I’m looking forward to it!

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No More Secrets

The cat is officially out of the bag – Katerina and I can no longer hide it. Actually, Katerina is the one who can no longer hide her belly. We are expecting!
We are very excited and can’t wait for the day we can meet our new son or daughter. Katerina’s due date is November 5 and we will not be finding out the sex of the baby. We like surprises, just like this little one. I only wish I could be in Charleston to dote on my wife as she gets HUGE the next nine weeks. Fortunately, she will be able to visit Brooklyn while I’m on my internship.

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Okay, I’m posting this not only because I will be working with them this summer, but because they have an incredible web site full of great examples of the type of the architectural and ornamental work I’m interested in. Very well done.

WWW.FRAPLASTER.COM

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New York

It’s official -FINALLY.

As of today, I have been invited to intern at New York based Foster Reeve & Associates, Inc. (www.fraplaster.com) for eight+ weeks this summer. It’s an honor to take on this challenge. I’ve been attempting to steer directly toward ornamental plaster ever since I started my new journey and I’m very excited to take this next step. 

I’ve never been to New York, so this will be an extreme shock, but a welcomed one. The only drawback is that I will be separated from my pregnant wife during this time. We may be able to work out an arrangement where Katerina will be able to join me and work from where ever I’m staying. We’re currently looking for a place not too far from where I will be working.

Now that I have some clear direction this summer, I can relax for a few hours. Time for the beach.

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DeCosta Scholarship

To honor the accomplishments of its inaugural graduating class, the American College of the Building Arts held its Jazz and Julep party Friday, May 1, hosted by ACBA Trustee Sarah Shields Horton. Several ACBA students were asked to volunteer their services for the event and I was one of those few.

After a couple of hours of serving mint juleps to the guests, the student volunteers were asked to join the party for a presentation. Little did we know that the chosen volunteers were the recipients of several endowed scholarships. It was a privilege for me to receive the DeCosta Scholarship “for support of a building artisan with outstanding talent in his or her trade.” Mrs. Emily DeCosta was present at the party to present the award on behalf of her late husband, Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr.

Mr. DeCosta died at age 85 in December of 2008, but not before leaving a legacy of quality craftsmanship and preservation awareness. In addition to being a renown restoration consultant, general contractor and businessman at the time of his death, he was an advocate for civic involvement in the Charleston community, including the Historic Charleston Foundation and the American College of the Building Arts. A brief bio and list of his amazing accomplishments can be found here.

It is an honor to receive this scholarship and I will keep Mr. DeCosta’s legacy alive by contributing to the preservation community, through civic involvement and by using my God-given talent as I develop my architectural plastering career.

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