I open this article from a new location: Plaster Island. Call it a figment of my imagination, call it a real location. Suffice it to say, there will be more details shared as time goes by (as well as awesome T-shirts to be won!). I can tell you the view is fabulous from the top of Gypsum Mountain and sitting down on the sandy beach is a great spot to write the column. So now when I travel to visit different parts of the country the motto will be, “Plaster Man—All The Way from Plaster Bay!”

So here we go, finishing up the series “Sources of Work.” I wanted to point out a few things about working with homeowners, and then mention the value of getting in with historical societies.

It’s quite obvious that homeowners can provide quite a sizeable amount of income and work for you. I wanted to point out that what I really like about doing repair and restoration and working with homeowners is the atmosphere that exists and that can be cultivated and promoted between you and them. You can actually be considered a “hero” and “lifesaver” in this role, which is pretty neat. To me, it beats new work by a longshot.

Plaster Man prefers this to that

When I was plastering new homes, there was always a lot of tension on the job. Many times I was working with homeowners who really couldn’t afford the huge home they were building. They were stretched pretty thin, both financially and nerve-wise. Deadlines had to be met; many were not. Items that were needed at a certain time didn’t arrive at the right time; sometimes it was the wrong item or wrong color.

Any mishap or blunder, no matter how miniscule, could suddenly have all that pent-up frustration spewing out in your direction. Add on the strain of working closely with a great number of crews following closely on your heels and I think you get the picture of why I opted for the calmer life of repair work.

With repair work, the most action that you will meet up with is an “emergency” job where a chunk of plaster fell in the living room on Thursday and the wedding that is going to be held there is Saturday. It requires your postponing or putting on hold what you are doing at the moment, but what a different environment you are walking into! They love you! You are the knight in shining armor coming to save the day. Hurray! And you’re not going to find people whining about the price. You can make a good amount, and at the same time, show you are not taking advantage of the situation, thus gaining a customer for life. You’ve just set yourself up for a lot of nice things to be said about you.

But there’s more here. I want to emphasize the type of people you meet with plaster repair and restoration jobs. Most of the jobs I am on are for people who are putting on an addition, fixing up a home that they have lived in for years or making repairs that are caused by storms or other types of damage. In most of these instances, I am working with people who are settled in and are rather calm in personality and character. They’re laid back. They’re not in a hurry to get mad or go off on you.

They are usually the type that have been thinking about this particular project for several years. They are planners and savers. The money is there and they are glad to pay for a job well done. To me this sets up a completely different feeling on the job from what I would experience on a new-home project. I’m not trying to slam new homeowners here. I just wanted to point out that from what I have experienced, the good vibes come much more frequently from remodel and repair projects.

At this stage of the game, I am looking for the least amount of trouble and the most rewarding experiences I can find. I tend to like good memories that I can look back on with satisfaction instead of a sick feeling that hits me in the stomach every time a past job pops into my head. No line of work is perfect, but this comes pretty close.

Let’s talk about a source of work that comes from a group very interested in plaster and the preservation of such: historical and preservation groups. These groups are made up of individuals from all walks of life, both young and old. Personally, I have just started to make contact with them, and the potential that exists is both encouraging and exciting. I want you to think of the groups in your area. Who are more in tune with the homes and buildings that are in need of repair? Another nice thing is that many of them have funding in the way of grants that are designated specifically for the repair and restoration of the plaster.

Becoming a member of the historical society in your area may be a good step in both understanding the true scope of what is the potential of your particular area of the country, and also gives you an inside angle that favors their use of your skills.

Plaster Man goes back to the future

Since we’re coming to the end of the year, I wanted to keep you in the loop by updating you on where I see the column going next year, as well as what has been happening here of late.

The past few weeks have been very busy. I had an excellent visit that was very productive and enjoyable with the staff at Walls & Ceilings. While there I also was able to take a look at a very beautiful building with a tremendous amount of historic value, the Octagon House. If things go as planned, I may very well be working on this building this month.

November saw a great visit to Seattle, where I spoke to a group of plasterers and contractors on how to make the most with the skills they have. If you have a plaster supply house and would be interested in having me come and speak to your clients on “How to Turn a Bucket of Mud into a Pot of Gold!”, please contact me through the magazine.

I also have been contacted here recently by several historical societies to come and speak at some events in the upcoming year. The theme I will speak on is, “The Fight to Preserve Plaster.” We will be working hard to get media coverage of the events I put on so that the word gets out that plaster is not a “dying art” but is undergoing a revival of huge proportions!

Several companies are helping sponsor my tour, including Zipwall.

One thing I have enjoyed doing for the past few months is trying out new and innovative products that are coming on the market. I plan on reviewing some of these in the upcoming articles so that you can get a feel on the performance of these products. This will include hand tools, mixing equipment, and any and all products that are used in plaster repair and restoration. If you have such products, please contact me before sending samples. My basement is only so big!

Next article I will cover some of the letters you’ve sent in. I do appreciate your comments and questions. As always, feel free to write. Keep the quality standards high and the overhead costs low! I do hope to meet you personally in the coming months as I travel and speak across the country. I look forward to it! Until next time, keep your momentum!