Master of Plaster

If you think plaster is a dying art, you don’t know Jeff Schardt. “I was putting myself through art school by renovating a row house which needed a piece of plaster molding repaired and I realized there were very few people doing that kind of work,” says Schardt. Through trial and error, Schardt learned how to make molds and honed his skills while designing his own line of architectural accents that delight homeowners, designers, and homebuilders.

Jeff Schardt of Ornamental Plaster Works

Plaster Fun Facts:

Different kinds of plaster include, lime plaster, cement plaster and gypsum plaster which is also known as “plaster of Paris.” Yep.

The Sistine Chapel ceilings are coated with a thin coat of plaster called “intonaco.” That’s right….

Plaster is “cast” when it’s poured into molds. Mmmm-hmmm.

Plaster can also be found in doc’s office in the form of casts for broken limbs. Whoa-ho!

And now for some Q&A with Jeff…

The budding artist said goodbye to painting as a career and hello to custom-designed mantles, ceilings, pediments and crown molding by forming Ornamental Plaster Works in 1989. Based in Northern Virginia and working up and down the east coast you would think that the mad-for-neoclassical region would clamor for his work and you are right, but plaster reaches beyond the old world. “The latest trend is moving us towards cleaner, more transitional looks,” he says.

Q: How does one get into the plaster business, anyhow?

Schardt: I became interested in architectural details when I was attending the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore. I was working part-time in the renovation of some of the row houses in the area around the school and had the opportunity to repair some plaster ornament on a ceiling that had been damaged by water years previous. I made a crude mold out of silicone caulk and was able to reproduce the parts I needed and realized that I could actually repair and bring back some of the history for that particular building. I was hooked.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?

Schardt: The obvious turn-on would be the approval and happiness in the client but I really enjoy seeing a space before and after. Appreciating what are interior moldings and designs can do for each room. Whether the room is more transitional in its design or classical I enjoy seeing how our designs affect how one feels in that space.

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