Plastered & Stoned -Tadelakt
Tadelakt; when I first heard this word it was mentioned casually in a conversation I was having with a resident from O.U.R. ECOVILLAGE at a Green Jobs Convention in Duncan. It was the end of a winter in which I spent much of my time reading a number of natural building books and looking for that niche within natural building that I wanted to fit into. I was looking for my potential passion. I had just finished reading The Natural Plaster Book by Cedar Rose Guelberth and my mind was filled with excited thoughts about natural finishes. So when I found out that Tadelakt was a type of plaster I was immediately intrigued and started looking for a course to let me do this.
Tadelakt is a Moroccan plaster that is essentially waterproof. The plaster is made of lime, sand, and pigment that is applied, compressed and then burnished with a polished stone to create a smooth, glossy, extremely touchable finished surface.
OUR first project was the bathhouse near the Art studio, which I also got to help plaster earlier this summer. Javan K Bernakevitch from Permaculture BC come by to pass along knowledge and helped out with this wonderful, but lengthy process. I started by making up a batch of Tadelakt plaster which required a week to sit. This allows the sand and lime to amalgamate. On the day of application the fist layer of plaster is applied and allowed to dry to leather hard and then the second layer is applied. This layer is also allowed to dry to leather hard and then compressed and smoothed with a trowel. By the end of this step Javan had worked a 15 hour day and I was close behind with 13 hours. By no means a quick job and one that requires constant attention. We then let the Tadelakt sit for 12 hours before burnishing. To burnish you take diluted olive oil soap, spraying the entire wall, rub it and compress it into the wall with a polished stone. This process happens 4-6 times with less and less diluted olive oil soap being applied each time.
Let me just say my arms hurt by the end of the 3rd day.
But the soreness is well worth it when you run your hand across it and feel the end result of many hours. Needless to say I became very intimate with that shower.
By Ayla Challenger – plaster goddess, natural builder, kombucha maker, and lady of many other wonderful talents.