As a young man I started out in college as an Art major, changed and graduating in Finance. I had struggled with the choice for over a year ,my sophomore year, and when I finally decided I went to my favorite art professors ( Jane Catlin , and Arthur Adelman) and told them of my decision. I will never forget both of their disappointment. Arthur said" How disgusting a life filled with nothing but making money. And he meant it. I have thought about that my whole life almost every day. I knew what he meant when he said it. (The legendary Finance professor said to me Clyde Cooley, I have the last letter of recommendation he ever wrote “Finance is an art. Do both ".) As my plastering career evolved I have found I use my art education a lot more than my Business education. I always remember reading about one of the great masters, who said “every time I paint I die a little.” I think it may have been Klee, or Turner (he used his fingernail to paint with; he would grow it out and sculpted it to his needs.) Anyway I would always think of this at the end of a long hard day of plastering. (Which I estimate I have had around 9000 of them and counting.)
I work typically for home owners and private individuals or groups, a lot of commissioned of assort. I learned at a very young age to stay clear of Contractors. There are two very large general commercial contractors in our town. Ogden Utah (if you live here it won’t take long to figure out who I am talking about.) They have destroyed more young men than the draft boards. Pure Evil, I was on to them after doing jobs for both of them. They would find new young licensed specialties contractors and make promises to them, because they know they are GREEN, in business, and someone skilled in craft. They exploit them and rob them knowing full well the young contractor, has not the means to sue them or standup to them. Then they move on to the new victim. They do the exact same thing to illegal labor. They use them up and cheat them and no full well the illegal labor has NO WHERE TO TURN. Again just move on to the next victims.
I had them figured out after one job each, although one of them got me twice years later, tricked me which is not that easy in-regard to my plastering Business. (Personal relationships; that’s a whole different animal I get tricked every time,) So as I was saying I work almost exclusively for private people. And have for decades, around 8,000 of them give or take a few hundred. I always say to the owners as I am plastering. “Every time I plaster I die a Little. “ I take great pride in all my one liners, ( my daughters can verify it, they have heard them their whole life’s I have hundreds of them) This one is one of my favorites, I did borrow this one, All the others are mine. Every time I hear someone repeat one of my one liners, I use another of my favorites. “Get your own material”. My daughters have heard that one so many times they could literally vomit, I am sure of that.
But in realities, plastering is extremely physical; I have said being a good plaster is the ultimate athletic sport. Extreme condition is required. I truly believe that is why there are so few. I grew up in a very athletic family my Uncles and father where world class athletes. As many of my cousins and brother, I was the runt. I learned how to be strong out of pure survival; I grew up on a large ranch and all the grandsons’ pretty well lived at the farm house of my grandparents. They all tried to pick on me. Did not work after a short while, like a litter of pups the runt always becomes the strong one. As a plaster physical condition, with athletic movement is how you get paid. The better athlete you are the more money you will make. The deference is when playing sports as an athlete you get days if not weeks between competitions. In the plastering world you get 8 hrs between games. That’s if you did not stay out partying. Which as a young plaster 8 hrs of rest rarely happens? Because as one of my old mentors would say “If Jesus was a carpenter then Satan had to be a plasterer; you have to be crazy to stay in this trade”. It was and is true, the few who stayed in these trades where as wild as it gets. Including myself,
When I went to work in the Plastering trade the year I started over 100 young apprentices started that year within 6 months their where 6 left. It was and is big-time physical work, and it takes Intelligence it is the most DYNAMIC OF ALL CONSTRUCTIONS TRADES. That is the pure romance of the trade. The blending of STRENGTH AND ARTISTIC INTELLAGENCE, Michael Angelo was the perfect mix. He was a plasterer. He was strong and physical and confident some like Da Vinci say he was pure arrogant. Da Vinci hated Angelo, he hated that he was covered with plaster and paint all the time, he hated that he sculpted his figures with very dynamic Mussel tone. He was conditioned. He was the first to realize understand a TRUE PLASTER WAS NOT JUST AN ARTIST HE WAS ALSO AN ATHLETE. 99 % of people who think they are a plasterer are not even close. Drywallers are not plasterers. I have many friends that are drywallers. They for years have showed up on one of my job sites or asked me if they can apprentice with me to advance their skills. (They falsely believe they have hawk and trowel skills like a plasterer, they don’t). I always say show up @ 9 30 a.m. and give them the address of my jobsite. Why 9:30 a.m. because one its early enough to see if they can get up in the morning and show up on time, and two I know I will have my plaster all mixed and be plastering. So they get out their hawk and trowel, and my hod tender Jerry (my mullet headed wasted, gicamo) starts throwing plaster on my hawk with a shovel. As soon as these guys see this they know there is no faking it here. I can plaster extremely fast with either hand, and I work off ladders not scaffold. When Jerry and I go we go. Jerry’s like a good surgical nurse he knows where I am going and all my techniques before I even get there. It’s a two piece symphony. So Jerry will go easy on the drywallers or any apprentice for that matter. He will softly put a medium scope of plaster on their hawk, and then they 100 % of the time will put the plaster on the ground.
Plastering to drywall is like a bugotti to a ford pinto. Drywall mud sticks to your hawk and is very little in comparison to real plaster or stucco. Real plaster and stucco is dense and heavy. It is slick very slick it will slide of a hawk in a mile second. If you do not have perfect balance, Perfect balance of plaster on a hawk while you are moving (I climb up and down ladders all day with a trowel in one hand and a hawk full of plaster in the other hand.) It’s as physical work out as one can get. Their lies the other problem with being a real plaster. It is such physical conditioning every day work. All real plasters are in incredible shape most look like gymnast. So of course they attracted the wrong type of females. And get a lot of attention from those types of females. ( That is one of the reasons none of them can hold on to a long relationship) maybe when they get old and figure it all out at about 70 or so, right before they die.)
This country has made sure they have crushed the plastering trade, it is like a coelacanth or an Ivory billed woodpecker. Thought to be instinct, but like the coelacanth or the Ivory billed wood pecker they have located one of each. I am like an Ivory billed woodpecker or a coelacanth, they thought they killed us all , but there has been one sited in Utah. ( My one liner ) Another of my favorite one liner, but it is true. There are very few left in the UNITED STATES. I was watching our local totally bias news here in Utah one day and they had a professor, at the same University I graduated and was a adjunct professor for a short time at (Finance, derivative trading believe it or not I did graduate form a top 10 School of Business) Anyway He was being interviewed about my subject lath and plaster and the lost art of it. “He was as Ignorant as they get he was actually one of my art professors in my sophomore year. He said “there is no lath and plasterers in the entire state”. So the next day I went to see him. He was so Ignorant that he did not even know that I was currently doing a very large lath and plaster job one building over form his. At the University, It was in their new kitchen and was the ceilings over the new steam dishwashing machine they were going to install. And right fully so the architect had it speced for lath and plaster. The job with suspended lath and plaster ceilings, NOW YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT SKILL, suspended lath and plaster ceilings are hung metal lath by wire hangers just kind of floating there. They have to be that way so vibration cannot crack the plaster. It is the GREATEST SKILL IN ALL OF CONSTRUCTION BARR NONE. I told this fool come on over to the cafeteria before you finish your book you are writing. He thought he was the so called texture artist. And he was writing a dissertation on the subject. He had given me the only failing grade, I ever got in my life. In 20 years of education. I could never figure out why. It hit me then he thought he was a plastering expert and knew when I was going to school I was a plasterer. It all hit me then He walked over as I was Hanging the lath for coating (a very delicate skill, you have to get it stable enough to start plastering in depth) I will never forget it he walked in and I had a young female apprentice then hod tending for me. He looked up and his eyes were like silver dollars. This is the same guy who failed me in an art texture class. Amanda had been briefed by me she was Will Rogers’s great grand daughter (that for real) just as witty as Will himself. So he walks in she says are you here for your texture class. His face was boiling. He was a pretty athletic strong looking 38 year old guy not much older than me. I know he wanted to throw a punch at me HE KNEW BETTER plasterers are great fighters. (Usually small, fast strong and athletic,) I was praying please let him throw a punch at me please.
I finished the ceiling 7 coats over three inches deep. His book was scrapped and he now studies graphic design. I see him all the time he just kind of glares at me. I am getting older now and tell myself the only good thing that has came out of this madness of being a plaster, when society is doing everything they can to give the trade a dagger in the heart. Are of course my Very authentic artist daughters, one an artist in Williamsburg Brooklyn. And I am in very good physical condition, out of pure survival mode. Which I have been on for decades, I savored my tongue almost off. I have a broken back , I have a fractured skull I have burned my eyes badly several times, I have sand lime burn scars. It is amazing that ; I am in pretty good shape. I think it’s as a plaster; like a good athlete you work when you are injured, you have to. I have worked with plastic bags around casts on both legs both arms , and one time my left arm and my right leg at the same time. (That a whole other sorted stories, remember what I said about the wrong females.)
So my moral to this documentary not commentary ( another on my favorite one liners mine) Is this; as a home owner have some respect not for me our other plasterers, for yourself. When a specialty contractor pulls up on your home or business, and gets out of his truck with hair spray on ( show me a man with neat hair I will show you a man you cannot trust, Another of my one liners mine) and eating a hamburger. And he looks like he is about 6 months pregnant, get a clue. He is no more than a car salesman bottom of the skill bucket. A real specialty contractor plaster, stucco, tile, carpenter, concrete, Are ATHLETES and are in tremendous shape, when fast talking chubby gives you a bid, Wakeup and understand. He is going to show up with a Crew of Illegal labor, or dope feines that he probably has not paid in months. And you think you are getting value. The labor he is exploiting is not dumb. Even thought you may have bias that tell you otherwise. They KNOW THEY ARE being exploited and equate you home or business as part of the exploitation. AND THEN YOU WONDER WHY YOU HAVE A NIGHTMARE ON YOUR HANDS. Hello kevin d. blanch 5/6/10