Sunday, February 28, 2010

Preparing the materials for an authentic "buon" fresco

Several months before the the mural wall was constructed my students and I began making lime putty from Hi-Calcium Hydrated Lime (type N) provided fresh from Cheney's Lime in Alabama. Letting the putty age for several months is beneficial and improves its quality in several ways. Our lime will sit for at least six months, however, the longer it ages the better. Many fresco painters insist on using lime putty that is no younger then two years old, and sometimes as much as ten!

Hydrated lime is very inexpensive ($8-9 per 50lb bag) and easily converted into the putty used by plasterers and fresco painters. Those interested in making their own putty, should carefully read the Manufacturer's Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Calcium Hydrate (aka powdered calcium hydroxide) and use the proper protective clothing, goggles and gloves.

While waiting for the renovation of Van Meter to be completed the students and I began formal discussions on the technique of buon fresco painting. In addition to learning about the basic materials, they were able to paint on practice tiles to get a feel for painting onto wet (damp really) plaster.

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