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Essential Natural Plasters (PDF)
A Guide to Materials, Recipes, and Use
Natural plasters made of clay, lime, and other materials mixed with sand are beautiful building finishes. Fun to work with, low-impact, and allowing infinite creativity, they are high performance and provide proven, centuries-long durability.
Yet until now there's been no resource that has pulled together the best North American plaster recipes and how-to into one place. Essential Natural Plasters covers it all:
- Sourcing and selecting materials, including site-soils
- Clay, lime, and gypsum plasters as well as fibers and amendments
- Interior and exterior use and specialty plasters such as tadelakt for bathrooms
- Preparing substrates, from straw bales and cob to lath and sheetrock
- How to set-up a safe, efficient worksite
- Mixing, testing, tinting, and applying plasters and plaster repair
- Coveted recipes from leading plasterers in Ontario, Vermont, New Mexico, France, and New Zealand.
Richly illustrated and deeply researched, Essential Natural Plasters is the must-have resource for owner-builders and professionals alike.
Michael Henry has researched plasters and plastered his way across Ontario for the past decade, plastering for Camel's Back Construction and Straworks. His attention to detail and mad-scientist plaster experiments have made him a noted expert in the field and a sought-after workshop leader on plasters at the Endeavour Centre. Michael is co-author of Ontario's Old-Growth Forests, and he lives in Peterborough, Ontario with his wife and two children. He shares his plastering knowledge at thesustainablehome.net.
Tina Therrien started plastering in 1997 as part of Camel's Back Construction, the first straw bale building company in Ontario. One of the founding members of the Ontario Natural Building Coalition, Tina has made numerous contributions in the natural building world and has plastered in France and Haiti. Passionate about food, gardening, and chickens, Tina lives in a modest timber frame home with her spouse, daughter, their flock of chickens, and their slowly expanding gardens. She is co-author of More Straw Bale Building, and she operates Shelter By Hand, a timber framing company, with her spouse. She lives in Low, Quebec.
"More than a book on plasters, Essential Natural Plasters delves deep into the world of natural building, explaining the detailing and function of walls finished with natural plasters in addition to the fundamentals of plasters made from earth, lime, and gypsum. It covers the spectrum of natural plasters, providing fundamental advice on mixing, application, and finishing, but also discusses often overlooked details such as masking and maintenance. Including tons of recipes, Essential Natural Plasters should be in the hands of every natural builder."
Kyle Holzhueter, PhD, First Degree Certified Plasterer, Permaculture Center, Kamimomi, Japan
"This is hands down the most comprehensive book on natural plasters that I've ever read. The authors include information you'd expect in a textbook, yet they write in a clear, easy-to-read style. Everything you'd want to know about natural plaster is included - from preparation and planning, through choosing materials, application techniques, and even recipes. Essential Natural Plasters is indeed essential for every natural builder's library."
Sigi Koko, Down to Earth Designs, www.buildnaturally.com
"From an engineer's point-of-view, plaster can be both a weak point and a strength in a natural material wall assembly. Tina and Michael, supported by their myriad plastering guru contributors, have curated a wonderfully broad and incredibly detailed recipe book for anyone who wants to work with natural plasters. There is background on a wide variety of materials, wisdom from many projects, and inspiration galore here. For anyone from beginner wall finisher to expert plasterer, this is a valuable resource - one that moves the state of the art forward here in North America."
Tim Krahn, P. Eng., structural engineer at Building Alternatives Inc.
"Essential Natural Plasters: A Guide to Materials, Recipes, and Use is aptly named. Tina Therrien and Michael Henry have delivered a thorough and honest easy-to-read guide for anyone interested or working in the natural plaster field. This book guides the reader through the stages of plaster work, beginning with onsite and personal safety and closing with much-needed coverage calculations that only a professional would know. They have given the reader an unprecedented 27 plaster recipes from around the world developed by professionals to help guide others in the complex and temperamental field of working with natural materials. The information in the book will save others years of personal study and experimentation I wish I had this book 20 years ago when I started out."
Janine Bjornson, Natural Builder, Educator, and Consultant
"Tina Therrien and Michael Henry have created a superb, comprehensive, and well-illustrated guide to natural plasters. Drawing on their own extensive experience, and the experience and wisdom of other leaders in this field, they have woven together a treasure trove of practical and insightful information about materials, processes, decision-making, recipes, tricks of the trade, and essential practices."
David Eisenberg, Director, Development Center for Appropriate Technology
"Essential Natural Plasters is the book I've been waiting for - clear, concise, and thorough knowledge delivered in a thoughtfully organized format. Finally, a book for plasterers by plasterers with a fountain of knowledge on the subject and a killer selection of recipes, to boot. This is easily my new go-to resource for all things natural plaster in North America."
Ziggy Liloia, owner, instructor, builder, The Year of Mud
"Essential Natural Plasters is definitely an essential book for anyone wanting to understand the complex art of mixing and applying appropriate natural plasters both inside and outside their building project. The authors have drawn on their extensive experience as professional plasterers, as well as the expertise of numerous others well-versed in the art of plastering. The myriad recipes for specific plasters for virtually every application is well worth the price of the book alone."
Kelly Hart, author, Essential Earthbag Construction and founder, www.greenhomebuilding.com
"Born-again natural builders, in these pages you can hear the voices of the past researcher and former educator who are the authors. Essential Natural Plasters is one part carefully detailed cookbook to three parts practical, shared experience, blended deftly with an admixture of inspiration and a dash of humor. Together, Tina and Michael reveal the great secret recipe that is natural plastering: experiment, fail, repeat, enjoy."
Ben Polley, co-founder, Evolve Builders Group Inc, founder, Fermata - Works of Earth
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The Home Buyer's Guide to Good Green Homes
Living Well in Just-Right Houses
Designing and Building a Light Straw Clay House
Safely capturing and recycling the nutrients in greywater, humanure and urine