When researching plaster we looked at the different techniques of making plaster and the different methods that can be used.
Plaster is manufactured as a dry powder and is mixed with water to form a paste when used. The reaction with water liberates heat through crystallization and the hydrated plaster then hardens. Plaster can be relatively easily worked with metal tools or even sandpaper. These characteristics make plaster suitable for a finishing, rather than a load-bearing material.
Many of the greatest mural paintings in Europe, like Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling are executed in fresco, meaning they are painted on a thin layer of wet plaster, called intonaco; the pigments sink into this layer so that the plaster itself becomes the medium holding them, which accounts for the excellent durability of fresco.
Plaster expands while hardening, then contracts slightly just before hardening completely. This makes plaster excellent for use in molds, and it is often used as an artistic material for casting. Plaster is also commonly spread over an armature, usually made of wire, mesh or other materials.
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