The Right Tool

Armand Paul Hoafat explains the principles behind Venetian application tools. Get marvelous wall finishes while applying Italian Plaster techniques. Learn how to use the right tool for the right job!

It has been said, “for every job there is a tool”. That is true in the case of the tools used to apply products commercially known as Venetian Plaster. At a seminar on Marmorino hosted by FirenzeColor-Marmorino©, there was an old plasterer from New Castle, Penn. He picked up the trowels provided and said, “What are these things?” He couldn’t understand their shape or why they were so flexible, curved at the corners, and lightweight.

Fast forward after the workshop, he sounded like a changed man; he loved these Venetian plaster trowels.

Although he mentioned that he couldn’t use them with regular plaster, he said they were well suited for Venetian plaster. First of all these lime based products need to be worked very gently. With traditional plastering, you are required to put on a lot of material very quickly and a rigid style trowel, whereas with Firenzecolor products, a flexible trowel is required.

We were one of the first companies that demanded trowels designed specifically for use with full mineral products. If you work with synthetic or half-synthetic material you do not need trowels like these; rigid stainless steel is sufficient.

For example, with our trowels, he did not get dark stripes. Why? With a lot of trowels these days, if there is any rust on the trowel or the steel isn’t of good quality it can leave discoloration on your wall. This never occurs with these trowels. If you accidentally leave them in water or with material drying on them, the blade will not discolor.

The reason for this is not found by looking at the trowel; it’s found in what you can not see on the trowel. The manufacturer tempers the sheet steel in the raw material stage and again at the trowel factory, when they form the trowels. It is this procedure that takes the rigidity from the blade so that they become flexible. Then, they are delicately polished; which is expensive because it is done by hand.

Trowel Shape

Now the shape of the trowel raises a lot of eyebrows because it is in the shape of a trapezoid. If you see an old workman’s trowel in Italy, it starts off in a rectangular shape and after several years it start taking a trapezoid shape. This is because you work on the full length of the blade the whole time and one end becomes narrower as a result. Many craftsmen in Italy would prefer to work with old trowels they inherited, as opposed to working with a new tool because it actually becomes better with age. For this reason, it was decided in a joint effort with FirenzeColor many years ago with the manufacturer of the trowels to design the Venetian Plaster trowel with this shape to begin with. One of the most experienced toolmakers in Europe manufactured our trowel. The only thing that could not be manufactures was the worn edge on the blade that has to come over time with use. The trowel also has round corners to protect the finished Marmorino or VP.

Light Weight

Last but not least, these special trowels have a light weight handle assembly; the manufacturing procedure holds an international patent. The handgrip is made of wood which makes it more expensive, but the craftsmen appreciate it because it is extremely comfortable to hold. The original trowel designed with FirenzeColor© many years ago has been emulated by other manufacturers; which is tribute to the inspired design of the original. To complete the process we use a smaller trowel, referred to as a burnishing ; which never touches the raw product. At just the right time this “polishing trowel” is worked over the product to give it that lustrous shine and feel of marble. This is important because in its natural state, marble is not polished. When an artist picks up a brush or pen or sculpting tool, the object becomes an extension of his hand, his arm, his eye and his mind. In creating truly beautiful decorative finishes with VP, choosing the right tool for that final process is crucial. Yes, for every job there is the right tool.

Armand Paul Hoafat is president of Firenze Enterprises, exclusive distributor of FirenzeColor-Marmorino©. Firenze Enterprises Inc.