Michael Arney, Managing Director of Artisan Plastercraft, a leading specialist in architectural and decorative plaster, tells us more about the business.
How much of your internal plasterwork is traditional floated lime work?
We are specialists in decorative (fibrous) plaster mouldings and traditional lime plasterwork. For lime, we work both internally and externally on buildings of all types. Our ratio of lime work changes throughout the year but typically makes up between a third and half of our business operations.
Tell us about some recent projects which have required use of lime work.
We are very proud to be working on several high-profile projects at present, including The Old War Office in London, which is being redeveloped into a luxury hotel and residences, and some restoration work at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London to maintain the internal and external walls. These projects required replacement hand riven laths and three coat lime application using traditional methods.
Last year Artisan was awarded a Finishes Interiors Sector (FIS) Contractors Award in the Heritage Plastering category for its decorative and lime work at the Grade II* listed Victorian Grand Hotel Birmingham. Our team had undertaken a programme of lime plaster repairs to interior walls and restored the coffered ceiling of the Madeleine bar.
Photo: The Madeleine Bar restored back to its former glory.
Another prestigious lime project we have recently completed is to restore coffer downstands on the external façade of the South Colonnade at The British Museum.
Do you train apprentices in traditional lime work?
We take on several apprentices each year and are always looking to train the new generation in traditional plasterwork. Most start on the bench in our workshop and then progress to site work, which can include lime plaster restoration, where specialism is encouraged depending on the individual. Training future generations is something we wish to expand in the future, so watch this space.
How will lime play a part in the future of your business?
Lime plasterwork will continue to be an important part of our business for the foreseeable future. The restoration and repurposing of heritage properties, especially in London, offers us ongoing opportunities and we feel it is important to maintain and restore rather than replace.
In your opinion, as a material do you think lime will be incorporated more for new builds?
We are not usually involved with new build construction, but we foresee a place for lime in relevant housing developments where perhaps time and cost are not the sole drivers to perceived success. The low cost considerations associated with cement mortars don’t add up when the environmental and long-term durability benefits of lime mortars are considered.
What made you decide to join the Building Limes Forum and how have you have gained from the membership?
Artisan joined the Building Limes Forum to show support for traditional lime work and the transfer of skills to future generations. The newsletters are passed on to our staff to digest. It is always very useful to see other members’ work and projects, perhaps even picking up the odd recommendation. We work with several lime producers and like to grow our informal contacts within the industry.