Bayside Studio and Showroom

Australian Art and Luxury Fine Finishes for Ornate Plaster


 HISTORY of Plaster in Australia

Australian Plaster History

Plastering history in Australia has an interesting background of hardship and ingenuity. The first Plasterers were transported Convicts. Of all the Trades represented Plasterers were the least in the numbers. Tools of Trade were scarce and would have been hand fashioned.

Plaster as a product was non existent and had to be manufactured from local resources. Generations of Aboriginals had come to the ocean shores at certain times of the year and feast on shell fish. The shells were left behind in piles called middens. Convicts would locate the middens, collect the shells most suitable and bake them. The shells were then crushed and powdered into what then resembled a Plaster product.

The most simple of decorations were used. Only the the most wealthy landowners and Government/Public buildings would have decorative plaster. Later as the land became more settled manufacture of decorative products became prolific, especially in Melbourne. Melbourne was the first significant free settlement and attracted a great number Tradesmen during the 1800's. It was known that a good Tradesman would never be without work and to win an apprenticeship placement was great luck for any young man and his family.

There are several very interesting books written in great detail regarding the early days of this struggling Trade. I will be shortly providing a list of Titles and Authors for anyone interested to read about this topic in depth. University studies have been made into this area and have come up with some interesting facts and speculations about our beginnings in the Building and Construction Industry.

Decorative Plaster was used rarely and still to this day in the northern areas of Australia. Climate dictates the building structures and with the heat of the Tropics wooden buildings were favoured. Fretted woodwork and decorative tinwork is more commonly used to decorate these houses.

Next Issue:

The history of mould making and its impact on the production of Ornate Plaster. On Plaster - A Craftsman 's encyclopedia by  Brian F. Pegg