Friday, June 15, 2012

Plaster Mania

Decorators have been obsessed with plaster objects for many years, and they are once again an accessory du jour.

Plaster dipped chandelier from Trove in Los Angeles - I am thinking of doing a DIY project

I remember an episode on Million Dollar Decorators where JAM and Ross were at the San Francisco Antiques show, making a bee line for a perfect coffee table that turned out to be a small vintage plaster table by John Dickinson. I think it the price tag was ten thousand dollars.

Ross and Jeffrey on the hunt for the perfect coffee table

They coveted this John Dickinson table that sold for $30K

Since then I noticed more and more John Dickinson pieces being featured in designer rooms.

A treasure trove of John Dickinson pieces

Plaster tables are popping up everywhere in designer rooms

John Dickinson lamps are also very popular

Room designed by the legendary John Dickinson
Syrie Maugham was famous for using white plaster objects.

Syrie Maugham with a white plaster palm tree lamp - Love the chevron rug too - This is 1930 people!
"The story behind this literally off-the-wall use of plaster actually began in the '30s. Serge Roche, a second-generation antiques dealer, began making ornate Rococo plaster tables, mirror frames and palm-frond torchiers during the Great Depression to bolster the stock of his Paris shop. Business was bad, so in order to keep going, he decided to design furniture. Not everything was done in plaster, but most of it was. Along with fellow Parisian Jean-Michel Frank—who sold the work of Emilio Terry and sculptors Alberto and Diego Giacometti—Roche became the go-to plaster resource for the decoratrixes of the day, such as Elsie de Wolfe, Frances Elkins and particularly Syrie Maugham, who snapped up pieces for her signature all-white rooms."

Syrie Maugham lobster phone

"In that era, plaster had a touch of whimsy and the surreal—Maugham collaborated with Salvador Dali on a plaster lobster phone—but it was still mostly focused on traditions past. It's no surprise that as the forward-looking '60s rolled in, plaster took a backseat to steel and glass. San Francisco decorator John Dickinson was part of its revival in the '70s with his almost cartoony animal-footed stools and tables."
from The Wall Street Journal

Frances Elkins with her plaster treasures

Here in New Orleans chandelier designer Julie Neill has been experimenting with plaster. She's made a couple of chandeliers. It's not as easy as my DIY idea of dipping a chandelier. She has worked hard in  finding a way to actually make a chandelier in plaster.

Julie Neill chandelier in the restaurant Oak in New Orleans

One of the first Julie Neill plaster chandeliers

Julie said this is the one that inspired her that she saw in a room done by Gerrie Bremermann

There are many other ways to incorporate plaster accents into your decor. A simple one is to use plaster brackets to display smaller objects. The little shelves are relatively easy to find and inexpensive.

Miles Redd uses plaster brackets

Steven Gambrel uses plaster brackets
You can also just place a few plaster objects around your home. I have a plaster lamp purchased at Ballard Designs over fifteen years ago.

I love this photo, an outtake for the book Undecorate taken by Melanie Acevedo - So much has changed since that photo shoot, but I still have and use  the plaster lamp
Plaster walls inherent to architecture are amazing

I love the plaster objects used in this table setting designed by Dwayne Clark and Bob Gaynor for DIFFA

Shells mix well with plaster - Detail of DIFFA table

Of course here in New Orleans many old homes have plaster mouldings and medallions

I'll let you know what happens if I dip an old chandelier in plaster! Has anyone out there tried this yet? Or made plaster furniture?

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  1. What a fun post, Valorie! I have to say I've never noticed the plaster dipped chandelier but it sure looks promising!

  2. Good morning Valerie !
    I have a 100 year plus home and all the walls and ceilings are plaster. I have to say that it is a pain in the neck. Those carefree days of picking up a hammer and putting a nail in a wall and hanging a picture are gone. Now it requires drills, screws, etc and then you have the holes and mess after when you remove things. I never thought I would say this but I miss good old fashioned sheetrock walls or wood at least !

  3. Those plaster objects are gorgeous! I love the Miles Redd room and the Gerrie Bremmerman chandelier. I have two different resin side tables from Oly, one of which looks a little like some of the John Dickinson pieces, but with a much smaller price tag!

  4. Hi Valorie .. love this post, leave it to a Californian to dip an entire chandelier in plaster! not sure I love that one.. but lots of points for creativity..

    The diffa table detail.. do you know what table that was? do you have a link?

    Have a great weekend!


  5. Not yet, but it looks intriguing! Love all the fantasy going into these pieces!
    xoxo Victoria

  6. I "plastered" by bathroom by buying mirrors with interesting details sprayed first with primer, then kept adding gesso in layers to get the plastered look. I painted the small room's walls to match so the plaster pieces look like appliques. Or something like that! Love the plaster table.

  7. Love, love, love!!!!!



  8. Is that a wood? If it is,it is really superb !


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