Stucco Creativa, Lime paint
Lime paint and stucco finishes, imported from the Italian company Rivedil, are purely lime-based with the exception of one high-gloss Venetian plaster.
and stucco finishes
by Stacey Enesey Klemenc
David Lustgarten regards the products sold by Stucco Creativa in much the same way a wine enthusiast views a fine vintage. The company’s paint and stucco finishes, imported from the Italian company Rivedil, are purely lime-based with the exception of one high-gloss Venetian plaster.
“Like the wine, all the stuccos are aged in oak barrels for 15 to 18 months,” says Lustgarten, whose company is the exclusive distributor of Rivedil products in North, South and Central America. He explains that he’s been distributing the products for the past three years from his native land of Venezuela and late last year opened shop in Miami. In addition to decorative lime paint and stucco, he also stocks primers, pigments, waxes and tools.
Unlike other companies that buy processed pieces and simply assemble their goods, the family-owned Rivedil makes its products from scratch, beginning with selecting only the finest raw limestone from a quarry in southern Italy. “They cook the lime; they slake the lime; they do everything themselves,” Lustgarten says. “They use the same methods the ancient Greeks and Romans used to use.” And the results are out of this world, new or old.
Which hasn’t gone unnoticed by those in the know. In fact, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — UNESCO for short — has selected Rivedil products to be used to renovate and restore historic buildings and architecture throughout Europe, including Prague’s renowned Konopiste Castle, built in 1300.
Stateside, Barth’s Faux Finishing in Las Vegas, Painted Elegance in Detroit, Decorating Master Institute in Ft. Meyers and the Chicago Institute of Fine Finishes, among others, sell the southern Italian products, with Stucco Creativa distributors’ list constantly growing.
Probably the biggest difference in using these quality products lies in the application process. “The material is very easy to apply and the yield is very high. You don’t need to use much,” Lustgarten says. Depending on the product, an experienced painter can expect to apply 500 to 1,200 square feet a day without the aid of special tools. The primer can be brushed, rolled or sprayed on, and the finish coat usually rolled or troweled on with a stainless-steel trowel. “Most of the products are applied in two coats,” he explains, rather than the four, five or more coats necessary with other decorative products.
And this is probably the biggest hurdle — if that’s what you want to call it — decorative painters need to clear when using the Rivedil products. “They’re used to working with a lot of product,” Lustgarten says, and they’re used to working it hard. “But with our product, you can burnish with one pass of the trowel [to achieve the desired finish].”
In no time at all, contractors should discover that “when you use our products, you work less. You use less time, less effort, less product. And this translates into more money and higher profits.”
Stucco Creativa offers 33 basic pigments, which can be combined to form other colors or to saturate a base finish for a deep shade. Unlike universal tints that may make a product too runny if you use too much, natural earth pigments used in excess won’t cause the lime-based finishes to lose their composition. “When you want a darker color, you can put as much as 10 times more pigment than normal without hurting the integrity of the product,” Lustgarten says.
The company carries 12 different base finishes: three lime paints and nine stuccos. One of the nicest paint products, he says, is the Patine Calce, which goes on with a special brush for transparent, antique, colored effects, reminiscent of the typical Italian Renaissance style. “It involves a two-step process and is very fast to apply.”
Another paint that deserves a mention is the sophisticated silk paint, which contains silk particles and glass micro balls. It can be applied with a special magnetized-bristle brush for a linen fabric effect or sprayed on for a velvet or suede matte look. “When you touch it, it feels like silk,” Lustgarten notes.
Probably the most popular of the stuccos is the lime-dust and marble-based Venexian, he continues, Rivedil’s Venetian plaster. There are three different types available: an opaque variety with a white base that can be tinted, a pretinted blend available in six very bright or dark shades, and a transparent mix that can be used with universal pigments. The latter “is the only product that is not 100 percent pure lime and will work with universal pigments,” he says, adding that the synthetic mix was designed for the South American market which likes a high-gloss finish.
Another stucco, Terra Nostra, one of Lustgarten’s favorites, is a two-tone stucco finish gaining in popularity. The first coat, he says, is applied very quickly with a roller, not trying to cover completely, and the second coat is a skim coat that covers the “pits left behind.” Most people use different shades of the same base but he’s seen instances where completely different colors, such as green and purple, were combined for stunning results.
But the finest of all the stuccos is the Grassello. “It’s the purest stucco on the market,” Lustgarten says. “When the ‘fat’ of the lime goes up to the top [of the barrel] that is the Grassello. We call it the spirit of the lime.” It is by far the easiest to work with, he adds, and very loyal.
All the natural stuccos he sells can be used indoors or outdoors. They’re very resistant to rain, chemicals, dirt and the effects of ultraviolet rays. In general, “Lime lasts forever,” he states. “It naturally resists mold and is nontoxic, nonflammable and washable.” Plus, unlike an acrylic-coated surface that has to be sanded down in order to touch it up, surfaces coated with “lime-based products can be retouched anytime, anyplace” without a lot of fuss or special preparation.
To complement the lime-based finishes, Lustgarten also carries the Les Fresques line, a series of 25 designs printed on a special mineral canvas that is applied like wallpaper. Imported from a company in Northern Italy, Bianchi Lecco, the instant frescos each come in a standard size ranging from 1-by-2 yards to 4-by-3 yards. Their only drawback is that they can’t be custom ordered or sized.
Stucco Creativa holds year-round workshops — taught by a seasoned French artisan and other masters — at its Miami facilities. The three-day entry-level workshops, which cost $800, focus on color theory and basic application. For the remainder of 2003, they will be offered Aug. 25-27, Sept. 22-24 and Nov. 24-26.
The two-day advanced workshops on European artisan techniques, which center on mixing products to achieve different finishes, cost $950. They will be held Aug. 28-29, Sept. 25-26 and Nov. 27-28, 2003.
Lustgarten says he’s also planning to offer a third-level workshop in October that will last five days and will feature artisans from Europe who will teach students how to do frescoes with lime products. “They’ll teach the same techniques Michelangelo used on the Sistine Chapel.”
Which, as the company motto states, will truly “turn your walls into a canvas.” Or maybe even a ceiling into a modern-day masterpiece.