Scagliola, scaglio ...

... term used for stucco marble, imitation marble offers even more. ?Stucco lustro? ? (shinning stucco) or ?Scagliola technique? (scagliare = spin) is an extremely rare, historical craft.

 The use of artificial marble goes back to the days of ancient Rome; definite proof of its use has been established at 1530. Scagliola is often mistaken for stucco lustro. The latter consists of a thin plaster coating of only a few millimetres onto which the paints are applied whilst the plaster is still wet, as with frescos. By contrast, the 10 ? 15 mm thick scagliola is marbleised through and through.

 Scagliola consists mainly of pigmented plaster mixed with diluted animal-hide glue. Batches of different colours are mixed up and kneaded together so that the resulting marble effect goes right through, i.e. is also found on the inside of the moulds and slabs.

 For wall surfaces, the doughy mixture is slapped onto the wall. It is then flattened and smoothed over whilst still wet so that the marble effect appears. The surface is then repeatedly worked over, filling in tiny cracks and rough patches and smoothing over again and again. Each time, the polishing process gets progressively finer until the wall surface is a perfectly smooth ?imitation marble?. For even more gloss and also for protection, a layer of liquid wax mixture is applied and the surface is polished again.

 Individual elements are pre-moulded, smoothed with hot sheet-metal scrapers, put onto a base of wet gypsum and then polished.

 It is also possible to have scagliola inlays, consisting of coloured material. These inlays are called stucco marble marquetry.

Ornaments are cut out of the wet plaster and replaced by material of another colour. Smoothing takes places after each application of colour. It is then sanded and polished with a wax paste.

 Artificial marble was popular in the 17th and 18th Centuries for pilasters, columns and wall surfaces. Although cheaper than natural stone, it was generally used not for this reason but because scagliola can be matched up with the interior colours. Due to its staggering similarity to natural stone it was also a perfect way for the plasterer to show off his skills.

 We were extremely fortunate in being able to learn this technique in St. Peterburg with Russian artists This old technique with its original formulas has been passed down through the generations in true craftsmen?s tradition without alteration by modern influences. Quality and originality are the same as 300 years ago.

 In Western Europe, the scagliola techniques have been simplified by new ingredients and finished products out of a tube. This has led to a huge change in the quality and versatility of this technique.