James P. Garrett
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The medium I use, Venetian plaster, is something that was created almost 1,000 years ago during the construction of Venice as a way to create the familiar feel and look of marble. This is something that Italians were fond of using on the walls of their homes, but without the weight of marble, which was causing the buildings to sink given that the city was being built on a river delta. It is a combination of ground marble and lime, which has been emulsified into a silky consistency that can be tinted and applied to walls with trowels. I believe that its finish is so different from other mediums and I love the feel of a completed piece. I can do things with Venetian plaster that cannot be achieved with other mediums.

I construct my own frames using a quarter-inch oak plywood for the surface and create a box frame for it to adhere to. For the most part, each piece is made up of multiple layers of Venetian plaster of varying tones and color, which is applied using a variety of different trowels and plastering blades and knives. There is no paint or brushes used of any kind. I frequently apply several colors at the same time especially when trying to grade or blend color. I also occasionally wash off areas during the process exposing color in a way that I cannot achieve with a trowel and hence I will place color several layers down knowing that I shall be washing back to expose it later.

When a piece is complete it undergoes a vigorous polishing, that not only produces the silky feel and high polish, but also helps to bring out more color, especially the more vibrant ones. Finally, I apply a basic neutral furniture polish that helps to seal it and adds an element of luster to the piece.

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