It took 18 months of planning but thanks to the help of some key sponsors the BCITO was able to hold a Solid Plastering Master Class in February this year.
The course, held in Wellington, enabled 10 eager apprentices to learn the art of running mouldings from four elder statesmen in the solid plastering trade.
The specialist mouldings and decorative side of the solid plastering trade is a specialty area very few people in New Zealand are qualified in any longer, which makes it hard for apprentices to get the opportunity to learn this unique trade.
Unlike 100 years ago when this type of work was commonplace, very little is done in this day and age. It is important the skills of this trade are passed on so historic buildings in New Zealand can be faithfully restored.
Generally speaking, when a historical building is refurbished, solid plasterers are brought out of retirement to either do, or oversee the work. This side of the trade has been dying for many years and, if we’re not careful, soon there won’t be anyone left to pass on the skills.
Although these skills are not needed on a daily basis, they are essential if we are to preserve the heritage of many old buildings in New Zealand.
The Supreme Court in Wellington is a prime example of a historical building being restored to her former glory and requiring the skills of some solid plastering Master Craftsmen.
The Master Class was a two-week course which included learning the fundamental basics in a workshop, blended with on-site experience working with the exterior plastering contractors on the new Supreme Court building.
The apprentices learnt to make and run straight, curved and elliptical mouldings in a variety of different media — including gypsum plaster, sand and cement plaster and modified plaster — on benches, in purpose-built cubicles, and then in-situ.
Lead mentor John MacArthur says he was a bit apprehensive to start with, especially as a course like this had not been run in a very long time.
“However, from day one, I just knew it was going to be a success. The attitude of the apprentices was superb,” he says.
The apprentices also relished the opportunity, with Ed Diver saying: “I feel really thankful for being given the opportunity to learn these new skills. Even though they are the skills of the past, they can be applied to the work of the future.”
Special thanks go to those who donated materials for the project, including BRANZ, Interior Solutions, STO, Mitre 10 Mega Petone, Fuller Hand Tools, GIB, Site Safety, NZ Safety and Surface Works.
For further information on what the apprentices did during the two-week Master Class, and to view more pictures of them in action, both in the workshop and on-site at the Supreme Court in Wellington, go towww.bcito.org.nz/events/solidplastermasterclass.html.