Artisan and Craftsman

Mar 132015

Scagliola has been a mystery outside the decorative arts realm. There are only few people who are familiar with the art of Scagliola, a fascinating and special technique, that uses natural components, managing to render perfectly valuable materials, such as marble, and other natural and semi-precious stones.  Today scagliola is becoming a high-end favorite being used for vases, staircases, columns, countertops and table tops.  Beautiful blends of pigment and plaster are assuming forms and functions unavailable even to their stone-age ancestors.

Scagliola Columns in the Willard Hotel, Washington, DC

scagliola columns Willard Hotel Washington, DC

History of Scagliola

The first examples of scagliola were created in Roman times from selenite, which derives from a gypsum stone found in Italy’s Appennine Mountains.  Italian monks honed the technique in the 17th century.

16th Century Scagliola Tabletop.

16th century scagliola table top

In the United States, scagliola was widely used from the mid-1800s to the 1930s, in elaborate churches, capitol buildings and theaters for large columns, wall cladding, pilasters and door surrounds.

scagliola columns

closeup of scagliola column

scagliola walls

Black scagliola door portals

black scagliola door portals

scagliola columns

scagliola panels

The appeal then as now was the amount of marble demanded for such massive works would have been prohibitively expensive, if available at all.  Scagliola looks like natural marble and is just as durable, but it is less expensive and can be formulated in a limitless range of colors and textures. William Millar wrote more than a century ago in Plastering, Plain and Decorative; “Experience has proved that it will last as long as the house it adorns, and with an occasional cleaning, it will always retain its polish and beauty.”  It is these qualities that have refocused interest in scagliola.  Although less expensive than marble, scagliola projects are labor intensive and highly specialized.  The finest results demand historical knowledge, technical excellence in fabricating the material, and the trained eye and hand of the decorative artist.

However, all art historians mention that the art of Scagliola was never only used as an economical alternative, in order to replace valuable materials. On the contrary, it has emerged as an extremely valuable art through the centuries, with masterpieces highly appreciated by kings and rulers of that time. Respectively, nowadays the works of Scagliola are highly appreciated as works of great artistic value, as can be seen in galleries, auctions and in the world artistic market in general.

Berrington Hall

berrington hall comumns

scagliola after restoration

scagliola columns

This fireplace is so incredible.

scagliola fireplace

scagliola Medina Country CLub

Pietro Antonio Paolini table top 1735

Pietro Antonio Paolini table top

scagliola table top

Pietro Bossi


scagliola fireplace

fireplace scagliola

bossi scagliola fragment



The traditional European technique uses lumps of a doughy mixture with mineral pigment for veinng.  More common is the marezzo technique, which employs an almost-liquid mixture and raw silk fiber for veining.  Marezzo is sometimes known as American Marezzo because of its popularity in the United States.  While the mixture varies for each installation, the process is similar.

Traditional European Technique

traditional European technique

Marezzo Technique

Marezzo Method

marezzo method

scagliola process

scagliola veining


First, precise molds of the object are created.  Then a basic scagliola recipe is produced.  This usually includes some combination of gypsum plaster, hydrostone, Keens cement, and mineral pigments to achieve the desired tint.  Artisans then work in the raw silk fiber to create veining and cast the dougly mixture into molds.  Once the scagliola has hardened, grinding and polishing begin.  Hand polishing takes over several weeks, using water and a fine grade of sandpaper. The surface is buffed with aluminum oxide and coated with a surface-enhancing sealant called carnauba wax for protection.

Scagliola Fireplace by Wells Vissar for Tavern on the Green, New York

Scagliola fireplace by Wells Vissar


Stone Age Designs

scagliola columns

Stone Luxe Designs

scagliola fireplace

scagliola columns

scagliola range hood

scagliola sink

scagliola soaking tub

scagliola fountain


Scagliola Tables by Galleria Romanelli

Galleria Romanelli table top

Bianco Bianchi Scagliola

bianco bianchi




 March 13, 2015  Posted by at 7:35 am Art, Artisan and Craftsman, Interior Design Tagged with:  2 Responses »
Mar 022015

Today’s doors are mass produced and available in several panel styles.  Why not make a design statement and transform ordinary doors into elegant architectural elements.  Here are some amazing doors to inspire you.  From carved wood custom designs to embellishing doors with ornament and/or paint.  Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

carved wood doors

Love this single panel design that matches the narrow panels.  Common elements to achieving this look are several moldings, corner ornaments and a central feature.  This design is more difficult because of the curve, but a simpler version can be achieved with Beaux-Artes panel kits such as the one shown below the inspiration picture.

doors with ornament

Georgian Panel kit comes with 4 corners and 16′ of panel molding for $199.  They are available in 20 finishes so all you have to do is use adhesive caulk to install it.  Use it alone or in conjunction with other moldings, ornament and paint.  Here it is shown as a wall panel with our damask canvas panel.

Beaux-Artes Georgian Wall Panel kit



Wonderful  header and beautiful trim for this door in Holkham Hall, Norfolk, UK

Door header and trim

Adding a header makes a huge impact.

door header with ornament

door header side view


Hall of War in Pavlosk Palace.  Effective use of large ornament.

heavy ornament

This is carved wood, but this allover pattern can be done with ornament or a painted design.

carved wood

details of carved wood design

carved wood door

paneled doors


gold ornament with white background

3-panel door design

Versailles Door

Versailles door


Versailles ornament

panels with trim and decorative header

Chateau Amon Re, Belgium

2-panels with ornament

Apsley House

Asymmetrical panel design

panels with ornament

panel ornament closeup


Egg and Dart is a great choice for the panel molding.  Beautiful ornament for the center panel.  See Decorators Supply ornament below.


closeup of ornament

Decorators Supply Composition Ornament #9884 11-1/5″ x 24-3/4″ $324.74decorators supply ornament

ornament and panels

Doors with artistry are saved.  There is a strong market for  using these beautiful works of art.

painted panels

Entrance Doors with Style.

Glass door with ornament

paint and ornament

glass and ornament

entrance door

St. Frances of Assisi Church


Pink House wood entrance door

entrance door

ornament and panel design

Painted Door Designs

Beautiful painted design on this curved door.  The headboard is also amazing.

painted design curved door

painted doors

painted panel designs

painted panel designs

painted door design

Simple gold bead looks fabulous.

door panels design

Italian Chinoserie

Chinese Italian design

Simple and elegant.

painted door panel design

Beaux-Artes Georgian hand painted Panel would look fabulous on a door.  $325 33-1/4″ W x 53″H.  The height is adjustable.  Shown with our Georgian Panel Kit.

Beaux-Artes hand painted Georgian panel art


Andrew Skurman

wood door

Marie Antoinette Boudoir

painted door







Jan 232015

The influence of Grey and Beige “Greige” is very prevalent in Leslie Sinclair’s new book “Segreto Style”.  There are innumerable mixtures of gray and beige,  greige,  with soft pastel shades that Leslie and her team of talented artists use to transform interiors using plaster, paint, glazes, metal leaf and the artistry which has made them a premier finish design firm.   Here is my review of Leslie’s first book, Segreto Secrets of Finishing Beautiful Interiors.  

There are 39 amazing residences shown in Segreto Style showcasing the work of a team of very talented interior designers, architects, builders, craftspeople and artists.  The focus of my review and the images Leslie provided me for this blog is to talk about the finishes.  The walls, ceiling and trim are the major players in the success of the spaces.  There are some great before and after pictures which demonstrate the power of the color palette and finishes like this study.  I love the effect the addition of wall panels added to the room.  Many of the homes use reclaimed wood.  The beams and the great finish add a lot to the character of this space.   As I read the book I knew my impression of the power of the finishes would be the subject of my blog.

Segreto Style before and after

This kitchen is another great before and after. Cabinet refinishing and plaster have really transformed this space.

segreto style

More beautiful cabinet refinishing with artistry to the panels.  Love the pewter countertop.  The finishes tie everything together.

segreto style


Wonderful mural is perfect with the reclaimed doors from Chateau Dominque and antique chests from Carl Moore Antiques.

segreto style

Perfect touch of artistry on the hood in this kitchen as well as handsome palette for the island and kitchen cabinets.

segreto style

Painted mural on gold leaf.

segreto style


Terrific plaster ceiling with just the right touch of gold.  Plaster moldings from American Masonry Supply.  Railing designed by Sheila Lyon Interiors Inc. and fabricated by Metal Railing of American, Inc.

segreto style

Love the faux finish on these iron closet doors which were converted into wine cellars.

segreto style

Love the cabinet finish.

segreto style

This French-style paneling and molding started with raw wood, textured primer was applied for an aged look and glazed to bring out the details, silver leafed and and stained to tone the bright silver to champagne.  The plaster was applied to walls and ceiling.

segreto style

This is just a peak at the beautiful work in Segreto Style.  One of my favorite homes is a renovation started in 2007 of a French Chateau designed in the 1930s by architect, John F. Staub.  The designer Kara Childress along with a great team is doing a spectacular job.  Purchasing items from around the world such as a chandelier that once belonged to Napoleon III and  restored sixteenth-century ceiling panels that originally hung in a villa new Parma, Italy.

Leslie Sinclair and her talented staff of artists.

Leslie Sinclair


More greige color palettes for inspiration.

greige colors

So soft and pretty with beautiful door panels.

greige nursery

Greige compliments just about any color.

greige with lavender

greige color paletee with teal

greige color palette

greige with gold

greige with teal

Wonderful with powder blue.

greige with powder blue

greige color palette

greige with pink

greige color palette

greige color palette

greige color palette

beaux-artes Florentine Recessed Light Trim

Beaux-Artes Florentine Recessed Light Trim would look great in this greige kitchen as well.

greige color palette

monochromatic color palette

The color of ornament.

color of plaster

greige color palette


Greige with gold

monochromatic living room






 January 23, 2015  Posted by at 1:24 pm Artisan and Craftsman, Interior Design No Responses »