Photo 1: Vintage 1887 envelope with “Plastering Hair Bundles” shown.
I intended on talking this month about a remodeling project in a kitchen but I will hold off on that and bring it in for the June column. I knew 2005 was going to be a special year filled with a long list of events to get to but I didn't think I'd be going non-stop without a minute to slow down for a solid four months. But that's the case and it seems to be the same with many of you I was able to meet recently at some of these shows-especially at the World of Concrete Show. It's always nice to get your letters and e-mails but nothing beats meeting people face to face. I appreciate your encouraging words and the nice conversations we were able to have.

As far as the World of Concrete Show, it was nice to have a few days in great weather and surrounded by such a great group of people. Excitement was in the air everywhere you turned, as companies showed the latest and greatest they had to offer. This was my first time attending this particular show and though the inside rows of booths filled with products were impressive, it was the outside displays that stole the show (photo #1).

Photo 2: Stairway area where they used to hit their heads!
Several acres were sectioned off into large slabs of concrete, where demonstrations were taking place constantly, from brick laying contests to artisans from the United States and several other countries showing the newest ways of stamping and coloring plaster. I'm including two pictures from this outside area-one is showing how vibrant and vivid the colors are that can be achieved with concrete (photo #2). Of course, I was at the show to scout out the products and tools that have to do with plastering.

Photo 3: AcruStone's fireplace mantle piece.
In February's issue ("A Good Product is Like a Good Book"), I reported on ArcusStone-a company that has a product that combines cement with lime-and they had a spot in this outside area, as well. I stopped by and took a picture of a fireplace mantle. They brought in a gentleman from Europe who hand carved the material in the design you see on the front of the mantle (photo #3).

At this show, I stopped in and talked with Jason Feldner, Bosch's PR guy.

Sing a song for you

Now I'm known as "The Singing Plaster Man" because I sing on the job. However, it's always nice to have some great music to create a pleasant environment in which to work. The problem is that often there just aren't the best radio stations available in some areas. Most work radios only have a radio but the Power Box has a CD player and to me that's a winning combination. You can bring whatever music you want. Here's a tip on music: Be selective and careful in what you bring on the job. Nothing is worse than to have heavy metal playing when a homeowner hates that kind of music. Chosen well, music can promote you and your business, so make good choices and have a good selection to fit the homeowner's taste.

I mentioned that I really appreciate letters you write in and here's one I recently received. You may recall my showing a room that had the drywall "flipped," with the back of the board facing out. I have always wondered why this was done but also when it started. I received a short note on this and thought I'd include it here:

Plaster Man,

As far as the comments on the article concerning drywall being put on backwards: The reason they did that was because the tapered joints on the correct or front side had to be filled causing a thicker layer of plaster than in the field of the board. When using lightweight material, such as Perlite aggregated, the suction was much greater on the joint area than the rest of the board. That usually caused a build-up of material or bulge in the wall. Approximately 20 to 25 years ago, in our area at least, there was a shortage of rock lath and that was the reason for using drywall.

Dean Kasten

Kasten Plastering,


Thank you Dean for writing. (And just as a side note, Dean specializes in ornamental plaster and is going to be on the Plaster Man Cruise this September (see for more details). He's going to be showing some of the secrets of doing ornamental plastering-both new work and how-to-do repairs. (If you want to learn about ornamental plaster, be sure to get on board.)


I am always looking for products and items that have to do with the plastering trade. Many times when I'm talking about plastering with someone, they say, "I have plaster with the horsehair in it." I have always wondered about this. I've heard stories about them rendering horses down at the glue factory but I always scratched my head over this one. And then I got to talking with some people in-the-know who have been around a while and also know plaster very well. One thing they have shared is that most, if not all, of the "hair" in the plaster in walls and ceilings is cattle hair.

Now some will disagree with this but I am including in this column a picture that is very intriguing and lends proof to this point. This is actually more of a trip into the past. I was able to get my hands on this little piece of history of an online auction. It's dated Dec. 21, 1887. Notice the company shown in the top left hand corner. It's the Illinois Leather Co., where of course they would be tanning hides of cattle. And what are they making available through the company? The two bales pictured go along with the caption "Plastering Hair Only." Now, if anyone has a bundle of this in a barn or anywhere else, I sure would appreciate you letting me know. I thought you'd enjoy seeing this item and it kind of makes sense now.

There is a ton of hair from cattle and apparently horsehair was and always has been a pretty expensive item. I recently was able to get some bolts of it, about 3 inch by 3 inch-horse, goat and cattle from a company that specializes in historically accurate plastering products. They even had hemp fiber, which is often found in large clumps behind ornamental plastering molds and also in plaster, as well.

Earlier, I mentioned I had met with Bosch and the company has gave me a Power Box to give away through this column. E-mail me your name and address to or send your name and address to Plaster Man, in care of this magazine. I will announce the winner in an upcoming column, so get your entry in.

Until next time, "Plaster On!"