GFRC at Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting

Plaster systems
at Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting
Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting, Inc. - Official Website

Using quarried stone as a building material is expensive.  Less expensive substitutes have always been popular.  For example, "in the eighteenth century, sand impregnated paint was applied to wood to look like quarried stone"  (Pieper, 2011).


GFRC: At Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting, Inc., a substitute for exterior stone architectural sculpture and restoration is a concrete substitute: GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete.

Plaster Systems

Plaster Systems: The substitute for interior stone architectural sculpture and restoration is a plaster substitute: plaster systems - plaster reinforced with materials like burlap, horsehair, polymers, or fiberglass.

All the photographs below were taken at Buffalo Plastering in December 2011 with the assistance of the two partners, Gary Bolles and Leo Lysy.

The manufacturing process may be described in these terms:

1.   Providing the model

2.   Creating a mold

Casting plaster systems

4.   Applying finishing touches

5.   Examples of cast plaster systems

1. Providing the model

The client provides the architectural sculpture or restoration model in many possible forms, including:
  • Intact piece, e.g., column, balustrade, fireplaces, bracket, sculpture, etc.
  • Partially intact piece.  Model will be finished  usually with clay
  • Drawing or photograph.  Model, usually from clay, needs to be made.
  • Computer-rendered drawing

Providing the model: Sculptor Leo Lysy created this clay model based on a photograph that the client provided. The next step will be to make a rubber mold of the clay sculpture.

Providing the model:  Poster.
The client, Mark Croce of Statler City, provided the original image in the metal lion's head (in lower right).  The image was enlarged as a clay sculpture - also illustrated in the poster - by a Buffalo Plastering sculptor.

Not illustrated in the poster: A rubber mold was then made and a casting was made from the mold.  
Here's the cast sculpture destined for the 
Statler City main lobby koi pond:

2.  Creating a mold

Most molds are created from rubber.

Creating a mold:  Rubber mold of a Corinthian  pilaster for a Lafayette Hotel architectural  restoration. Detail in next illustration:

Creating a mold

Creating a mold:  Rubber mold and plaster sculpture. A series of this sculpture will be used in interior restoration in the Lafayette Hotel.

Creating a mold:  Instead of a rubber mold, computer-generated shapes were rendered in brass and used as a "running mold."

Casting interior plaster systems: reinforced plaster

In  contrast to concrete which is used for exterior pieces, interior pieces at Buffalo Plastering are cast in a plaster system - reinforced plaster.

Reinforced plaster: A roll of burlap to be used as plaster reinforcement for interior plaster systems.

Reinforced plaster: Glass fiber rods to be used as plaster reinforcement for interior plaster systems.
5. Applying finishing touches

Buffalo Plastering fabricates columns, cornices, domes, architectural and religious sculpture in both interior and exterior materials that replicate terra cotta, limestone, marble, or travertine.

Applying finishing touches:  After casting, a sculptor may use a chisel to clean up the piece.

5.   Examples of cast plaster systems

Plaster systems examples
A plaster system is plaster reinforced with materials like polymers, burlap, fiberglass, or even horsehair,
and used for interior architectural sculpture and restoration.

Plaster systems examples: Poster.  Pictured is the auditorium dome at Shea's.

Plaster systems examples: Poster. Pictured are two ceilings at the Hotel Lafayette

Plaster systems examples: Cast travertine fireplace and other cast pieces, all made from plaster systems.
Fireplace: Scrolling acanthus leaves and rosettes frieze.
Fireplace: Paired ancones feature front acanthus leaves.

Plaster systems examples: A different cast travertine fireplace frieze detail

Plaster systems examples:  Baroque style fireplace  and Neoclassical style urn
The fireplace is made from plaster reinforced with marble dust which makes the cast piece very hard.

Plaster systems examples: Medallions, made from plaster reinforced with fiberglass, destined for the Hotel Lafayette

Plaster systems examples: Chandelier section (upside down).
Four destined for Babeville.

Plaster systems examples: Modified plaster dome. Recessed diminishing diamonds with inlaid flowers.  Client in NYC.

Examples of Buffalo Plastering's work on Buffalo Architecture and History Website:

Special thanks to Gary Bolles and Leo Lysy for their assistance in 2011.

Photos  2011 Chuck LaChiusa
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