What is fibrous plaster?

Fibrous plaster is a material which comprises moulding plaster combined with plant fibre (sisal, jute or silicone – milled glass).

It is also known as “plaster of Paris” and is made of 90% pure materials. Owing to its composition, fibrous plaster is supple, making it possible to push the limits in terms of décor.

A look at the history of fibrous plaster, a multi-faceted material

Stucco, the ancestor of fibrous plaster

The predecessor of fibrous plaster was stucco, a material created by mixing hydrated lime, travertine and white marble powder. In Ancient Egypt, stucco served to cover the pyramids and seal stonework. The Greeks, Romans and Arabs then used it to embellish stone and cover walls to receive frescoes.

Calibre en fer pour le moulage du staff par Rouveure Marquez

Many of the processes now used to work fibrous plaster were already employed by Roman and Gallo-Roman builders.

These include the techniques of moulding a material with a sliding template made of wood and iron, and using a hollow mould to stamp patterns.

Le Rosso © Wikipedia

Stucco stopped being used during the Middle Ages, making a resurgence during the Renaissance thanks to the construction of the Vatican loggia.

It was then imported into Fontainebleau by the painter and engraver Il Rosso and by the architect and sculptor Francesco Primaticcio, summoned by King Francis I to decorate the Château de Fontainebleau.

Le Primatice © Wikipedia

Stucco was extremely popular during the Baroque architectural period and can, for example, be found in the décor at the Louvre.

But stucco enjoyed its greatest reign at the Palace of Versailles, in the form of wall decorations set against a white background.

This meticulous ornamentation appears in the vestibules and apartments of King Louis XIV and the queen.

Plafond de l'Antichambre du Grand Couvert du Château de Versailles, éléments en stuc dorée

Ceiling of the Grand Couvert Antechamber, gilded stucco elements

The appearance of fibrous plaster

After the destruction of flats during the French Revolution, decorators were looking for less costly noble materials. Fibrous plaster made its first appearance in 1850, in the form of pre-fabricated cornices made of plaster and canvas, thanks to a Frenchman called Mézier.

Eugène-Denis Arondelle and Alexandre Desachy applied for a patent in 1856 and 1861. Fibrous plaster was employed in many decorations for the residences of Emperor Napoleon III.

Fibrous plaster reached its pinnacle during the Belle Epoque. Thanks to its many benefits, fibrous plaster is one of the most widely used materials today for the production of meticulously formed decorations. The addition of plant fibres to plaster improves the sturdiness of the substance.

Staffeur ornemaniste un métier de la Maison Rouveure Marquez

The emergence of this material resulted in a new trade, that of ornamental plasterer. These craftsmen use moulds to work the fibrous plaster so they can fabricate all kinds of decorations.

Fibrous plaster in architecture

Fibrous plaster is used to manufacture, renovate and reproduce decorations designed by architects.

Over the course of its history, fibrous plaster has explored the full realm of possibility, from classical to contemporary styles, ranging from roses to moulds by way of cornices, making it a real asset in wall décor.

Also employed in the form of columns, fibrous plaster endows spaces with depth and structure.

This material is resolutely modern and infinitely malleable, and is used heavily in contemporary décor. Thanks to the inspirations of designers and architects, fibrous plaster is a true ambiance creator.

By imitating textures and shapes, fibrous plaster can reveal or re-create an interior.

More information

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