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The Art of Natural Plasters: Clay & Lime Finishes

July 2, 2023 - July 7, 2023

Instructors: Michael G. Smith, Athena Steen, Robert Kolden and Avani Leitz


The Art of Natural Plasters workshop is an immersive learning experience that focuses on the use of traditional and natural materials to create beautiful, durable and sustainable finishes for walls and other surfaces. Learn from instructors with over a century of combined experience in natural building and fine finishes! Participants will learn about the various types of clay and lime plasters and finishes, the techniques for applying them, and the benefits of using natural materials in building and design. These techniques are well-suited to natural wall systems such as straw bale and cob, but are equally appropriate over conventional materials such as drywall.

Hands-on experience is a key component of the workshop. Approximately six hours each day will be spent mixing and applying plaster to a real natural home, allowing participants to develop application skills while plastering on different substrates and experimenting with various finishing techniques and textures. Lectures and discussions will cover the health benefits of natural finishes, how to select the most appropriate plaster type for your situation, the importance of proper surface preparation, what tools you will need, how to source the best ingredients and develop and test your own plaster recipes, how to calculate the amount of materials you will need, how to maintain and repair natural plasters, and how to design your home to minimize maintenance over time. 

This workshop will cover a wide range of natural wall finishes including:

  • Straw-clay base coat plasters ideal for protecting straw bales and for sculptural relief work
  • Lime scratch, brown and finish coats for wet and weather-exposed surfaces
  • Smoothed and polished clay finishes suitable for all interior walls
  • Lime-clay combinations
  • Sgraffito – the art of carving through multiple layers of different plasters to create a textured and multi-colored design
  • Simple, durable clay paints you can make yourself
  • Tadelakt – a highly polished and waterproof lime plaster from Morrocco
At the end of the workshop, participants will leave with a deeper understanding of natural plaster and finish techniques and the confidence to apply these techniques in their own projects. In addition to the practical skills and knowledge gained during the workshop, participants will also benefit from the opportunity to connect with a diversity of people and learn from experienced instructors in a supportive and collaborative environment. 


July 2, 2023
July 7, 2023
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Tonasket, WA United States + Google Map