9 Plaster
Venetian Plaster
There are many different brands of Venetian plaster that can be purchased online or at home supply and
paint shops. They contain various levels of plaster and have slightly different characteristics. I like a brand by
Modern Masters. The benefit to purchasing the plaster in this form, as opposed to mixing Plaster of Paris, is
that it is already mixed and you have more working time. The disadvantage is that it must be applied in thin
layers and built up or it will likely crack.
by Sandra Duran Wilson
Preparing Your Surface
Prepare for working with Venetian Plaster the same way you would for Plaster of Paris.
Apply a thin layer to your surface (I recommend a wood surface) with a palette knife and let dry. Apply a second coat
and additional coats as needed or desired. You may press objects into the wet plaster to add texture or marks.
Use a watered-down acrylic or alcohol inks to add color.
Apply a coat of acrylic polymer to seal the painted surface. (Seal after each layer applied and painted.)
Additional layers of plaster can be added—just be sure to let the plaster dry between applications. Use these
additional layers of plaster to play with texture and color.
After a layer of plaster has dried, you can use an
abrasive, like a green scrubbie, to sand back areas of
plaster and paint to reveal the sealed layers below.
You can transfer a laser print onto dry plaster with solvent.
You can use a knife or clay tool to carve into the plaster and fill the incisions in with paint. The incisions can also be
left as is for an intersting contrast.
Joint Compound
Joint compound is similar to Venetian plaster but it is softer. It can be purchased at home supply stores and
worked in the same manner as plaster of Paris and Ventian plaster.
Joint compound works great applied through a stencil because you get a raised effect. Joint compound is a
better choice for stenciling than other plaster products because of its texture—you’ll get smoother edges when
removing the stencil due to joint compound’s softer texture.
Tips, Troubleshooting and More Ideas
• Apply a layer of joint compound to watercolor paper and, while wet,
press a textured paper into the plaster, burnish, and then remove the
textured paper. Let dry and paint.
• Paint, glaze and seal “plastered” paper with polymer medium.
• Plastered paper can be mounted onto wood panel for display.
Suede & Leather
Use a wood-burning tool to draw a design into leather.
by Darlene Olivia McElroy
Transfer an image or draw your own image on a piece
of leather.
Burn the design into the leather using a woodburning tool.
Paint the image as desired.
Add finishing touches and embellishments.
Wood &
Wood Veneers
For a uniquely textured background, consider working on a woven wood strip placemat. Adding papyrus or
bark paper to the surface of the placement will add even more texture and visual interest.You could also glue
together wooden or bamboo barbeque skewers or cheap wooden chopsticks to create a custom surface.
by Darlene Olivia McElroy
Printed papyrus, woven place mat
Glue a placemat onto a surface like a cradled canvas,
panel or piece of foamcore. Let the glue dry.
Glue printed papyrus onto the placemat and let the
glue dry.
Add handpainted details to the papyrus. Sand back
some of the paint or print if desired.
Add any additional details you want.
15 Acrylic Skins
Acrylic Skin Hanging Sculpture
Sandwiching thread, glitter, gold leaf, paper and other ephermera between layers of acrylic paint or polymer
medium adds even more visual interest.
Dressing Up in Polka Dots
by Darlene Olivia McElroy
Acrylic skins with embedded objects
Add wire to the wet gel. Let the
gel dry.
Add a coat of soft gel gloss over
the gold leaf.
Apply soft gel gloss to your work
surface. This will be the base skin
you add ephemera to.
Apply gold leaf adhesive to
the skin until it is tacky. Apply
gold leaf.
Collage elements (fabric sleeves
and buttons) to and in the skin.
Stencil black shapes on the base
skin and let dry.
Embed patterned paper into
the gel.
Add a hanger to the embedded wire.
Tips, Troubleshooting and More Ideas
If your skin is too thin you will have problems removing it from your
your work surface without tearing it. Add more polymer medium to
build thickness.
17 Fabric
Weave a pattern with fabric and attach the weaving to a surface. Use the weaving as a piece or an accent
element. Leave it plain, paint it or add gold leaf. Rough fabrics like burlap will give you a totally different
look than a smooth silk. Experiment.
Desert Sunset
Darlene Olivia McElroy
(oven fabric, paint, gold leaf)
Staple strips of fabric to two adjacent sides of
a canvas.
Apply soft gel to the canvas in one small area at a
time and weave the fabric strips. Press them into the
gel. Let the gel dry.
Paint the fabric. Let dry. (A gesso pre-coat is optional.)
When tacky, apply metal leaf.
Apply a gold leaf size.
Brush off any excess metal leaf.