Robin answers some of his recent letters

This month, I wanted to start out with some thoughts from people who are having a great time in the plastering trade. I’ve enjoyed many letters from plasterers and finishers from around the world, and a few in particular are memorable and worth sharing. The first letter is accompanied by photos #1 and #2. I like the picture with Joe and his 4-year-old son because it’s a picture of plastering and the future—of passing on the knowledge of the trade. Here is the letter that goes with the pictures:

Plaster Man,

I look forward to any of your Plaster Man articles in Walls & Ceilings magazine. I am a Plaster Man myself. I’m 34, and I was trained meticulously during my rookie years, starting out as a hod carrier in the greater Los Angeles area. Just out of high school (1984), I considered myself lucky to be trained by old masters from the union, who later became contractors. I have an extensive background in interior plaster, from lathing—wood lath, button board, hard wall applications, putty coat (usually gauging and lime, Keenes cement, 1-2-3 mixes, etc.). That’s why I enjoy your articles so much. It’s good to see plastering alive. I’m currently a contractor (plastering, of course!). I get some specialty work every now and then, but usually stay in the lath, stucco groove, just like I learned. Here are some pictures of my specialty work. Tell me what you think. Keep up the good work!

Proud Plasterer,

Joe Perez


I have to say to Joe that it’s great to see someone who is so enthused about plastering! I also want to ask Joe to contact me again because I sent a reply but somehow the letter came back. Joe, give me a shout man! And thanks again for the great letter!

The second letter is from a gentleman who sounds like he has some valuable knowledge a company could profit from.

Hi Robin!

My name is Mio Rajkovski, age 47, married, with one child. I am from Macedonia originally. I am now in Arizona. I was pretty excited when I saw Walls & Ceilings and maybe after this letter, my life is really gonna be changed! Let me explain it.

Our family business is stucco. I, with my father, have been working for about 25 years now. Ten of those years, I was working in Lucerne, Switzerland. So my profession of “stuckateur” (in German) probably corresponds with “plasterer” or something similar. We worked mainly restorations of churches and residential objects in Lucerne. We produce lots of stuff: Rosettas, gypsum columns of different profiles, Len, Broduras, consolas, portals, statuettes of old Greek architecture, and also Roman-style projects. I was in a situation to learn from a guy from Neapol, so many of the secrets of this job I know how to work. I am even now excited, when I write this letter to know I am talking to someone who is really “my colleague” in this profession.

Robin, I hope you will answer my letter, and to see if there is any chance to be somewhere employed as a plasterer/restorer. I am sure I’ll find that firm with a lot of qualified labor and big experience. Please answer me! I am ready to work anywhere in the U.S.A.

Mio, I thank you for your letter. I think valuable knowledge that comes from other parts of the world can help enrich and influence the work we do right here in the United States. We are seeing this in several schools across the country that are teaching Old World techniques; sharing knowledge that will benefit generations to come. If anyone would like to contact Mio, just drop me a line and I’ll set it up.

This old show

I have just come back from the National Hardware show in Chicago. It’s always nice to see the latest products that are being offered. I am constantly on the lookout for items that make life a little easier and more efficient in the plastering world. I was not disappointed by what I found this year, though the show was about one third of the size it was last year. I plan on doing a review of several products from the show and also that I’ve been testing for some companies in an upcoming issue. (Note: If you do have a product that you would like reviewed, send the product and/or request letter to me in care of this magazine).

In my travels, I’ve been able to see some outstanding homes and buildings, as well as meet some people that have a story to tell. Which also reminds me: If you know anyone who has memories of plastering from the past (including anyone who was a lather; putting up wood lath), please contact me. I’d like to set up some interviews with these people. I’ve already been able to talk with some old time plasterers, and the knowledge and stories they share, well, I am sure you’ll enjoy them as we bring these memories to print here in the future.

While in Chicago for the show, I was also given a private tour of the Merchandise Mart. I’m working to put an article together on this building that at one time was the biggest building in the world! Quite an awesome place, and I look forward to sharing some pictures and details of this tour with you.

While at the Hardware Show, I was able to meet with two individuals I have met before: Photo #3 shows Dean from Hometime and photo #4 shows Norm from This Old House. I had to say that these two guys are pro plaster! Dean of course hosted USG’s Decorative Interior Finish System Video, and really talks highly of the whole plastering industry. We were able to spend a good 20 minutes with him just talking plaster. He is a great ally to the trade.

Norm was just as enthused about plaster, and shared his memories of getting homes ready ahead of the plasterers.

“When I first was starting out working with my dad, he’d have me put up the rock lath in the closets and bathrooms, the areas that were the most difficult to hang,” he says.

We were able to talk plaster for quite a while with him, and it was nice to hear he’s had several shows that highlighted plaster repair and restoration work, as well as new construction projects. W&C