Orazio De Gennaro, a native Italian, specializes in the ancient craft of venetian plaster. The true beauty of venetian plaster depends on the right synthesis of the natural elements and the correct way to slake the lime, which is then combined with marble dust. Next this material is carefully mixed together with linseed oil and marseilles soap, and then colored with earth pigments. In a unique application, described on HGTV as a "noisy tap dance of whirling color", this mixture is troweled several times on a wall that has been carefully prepared with scratch coat. When dry, it is brushed with marseilles soap, then troweled again with beeswax, enhancing the brilliance of the lime finish.
Out of his deep respect for this tradition, Orazio De Gennaro succeeds in creating wall surfaces that reveal the true beauty
of venetian plaster. Through this process, the application of traditional venetian plaster is elevated to an art form and therefore distinguishes itself from the industrial application of today.
A base of lime and sand with micro-fiber is applied to the wall in two coats before the application of marmorino. This is called arriccio.
After the marmorino has dried, a coat of marseilles soap is brushed on the wall in preparation for a following coat of beeswax.
The beeswax is then trowelled on the wall, rendering the surface more brilliant and durable, while at the same time, reinforcing the color and enhancing its transparency.
Following the traditional technique, Orazio carefully mixes together lime, marble dust, linseed oil, marseilles soap and colored earth pigments. This mixture is then trowelled on the wall in successive layers.
The use of lime and marble dust as a fundamental component in the final layer of the wall surface goes back 5000 years. The first written record dates to Vitruvius who described the technique and ingredients in his treatises on architecture in the 1st century A.D.
The appearance of intonaco, called "marmorino" and now known as venetian plaster, can be traced back to the first half of the 15th century in Venice, when a new exterior wall facing was devised by the "maestranze" in response to the aesthetic demand of the day and a renewed interest in the classical ideal.
Subsequently, in the 16th century, Andrea Palladio, employing the talents of the master "stuccatore", Alessandro Vittoria, used marmorino as a primary finish in his classically elegant villas throughout the Veneto region.
Four hundred years later, in the 1960's, Italian architect Carlo Scarpa was instrumental in the revival of venetian plaster. Intimately linked to the Venetian tradition of the integration of materials and striving to capture the pleasure of the tactile surface, he re-introduced the use of stucco in his work, successfully uniting design, color and material.