Plaster Systems at Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting

GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete 
at Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting

Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting, Inc. - Official Website

Using quarried stone as a building material is expensive.  Less expensive substitutes have always been popular.  For example, "in the eighteenth century, sand impregnated paint was applied to wood to look like quarried stone"  (Pieper, 2011).

GFRC

GFRC: At Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting, Inc., a substitute for exterior stone architectural sculpture and restoration is a concrete substitute: GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete.

GFRC  is a thin shell cast material making it lightweight.  The addition of cast glass fibers [material made from extremely fine fibers of glass] acting as reinforcement creates durability without requiring embedded steel.

The lightness of GFRC also makes it an efficient and cost effective material to install. Where many similar products require massive additional structuring to hold their weight, this lightweight product can often be supported with only the existing studs and framing in place.

Recall that the 1901 Pan-American Exposition buildings in Buffalo - with a few exceptions - were constructed of wooden frames and walls of plaster reinforced with cloth:

The Temple of Music's framework consisted of wooden members with cast-iron connections and steel tension rods. The facade was made of staff, like the other buildings that were temporary. Staff was invented in France ca. 1876 and first used in buildings of the Paris exhibition in 1878. It is composed of Plaster of Paris molded around a fibrous jute cloth. These are mixed with water and cast into molds. The material is off-white and is usually about 1/2 inch thick and cast around the fibers to help prevent brittleness. Castings can resemble cut stone, rock, faced stone, or any other type of masonry. Staff is impervious to water and is 1/10 the cost of construction with stone. The lower portions of the walls were often reinforced with concrete, to provide added strength. - Temple of Music

Plaster systems

Plaster systems: The substitute for interior stone architectural sculpture and restoration is a plaster substitute: plaster systems - plaster reinforced with materials like burlap, horsehair, polymers, or fiberglass.

All the photographs below were taken at Buffalo Plastering in December 2011 with the assistance of the two partners, Gary Bolles and Leo Lysy.

The manufacturing process may be described in these terms:

1.   Providing the model

2.   Creating a mold

3.   Casting GFRC

4.  
Applying finishing touches

5.   Examples of cast GFRC


1. Providing the model

The client provides the architectural sculpture or restoration model in many possible forms, including:
  • Intact piece, e.g., column, balustrade, fireplaces, bracket, sculpture, etc.
  • Partially intact piece.  Model will be finished  usually with clay
  • Drawing or photograph.  Model, usually from clay, needs to be made.
  • Computer-rendered drawing

A client may have only an architect's drawing to indicate what's desired, for example in this illustration, rosettes or balustrades.  The next step would be to create clay models.



Damaged terra cotta tile from the Ansonia Building. The contract is for four GFRC tiles to be cast.



2.  Creating a mold

Most molds are created from rubber.




A rubber mold is formed around the model. After drying, reinforced cement or plaster is poured into the mold. In this illustration, an artisan removes the rubber mold from an exterior GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete)  panel after it has hardened.

3. Casting GFRC

For exterior pieces, Buffalo Plastering  & Architectural Casting uses glass fiber reinforced concrete - GFRC - a weatherproof material.

GFRC  is a thin shell cast material making it lightweight.  The addition of cast glass fibers [material made from extremely fine fibers of glass] acting as reinforcement creates durability without requiring embedded steel.

The lightness of GFRC also makes it an efficient and cost effective material to install. Where many similar products require massive additional structuring to hold their weight, this lightweight product can often be supported with only the existing studs and framing in place.


A roll of glass fiber, used as a reinforcing product to make thin concrete durable without requiring embedded steel.

Closeup of Glass fiber
4. Applying finishing touches

Buffalo Plastering fabricates columns, cornices, domes, architectural and religious sculpture in both interior and exterior materials that replicate terra cotta, limestone, marble, or travertine.



2011 postcard showing partner/sculptor Leo Lysy chiseling finishing touches on a cast glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC)  pediment.
 
Photos of the mounted Shea's Performing Arts Center pediment.

5. Examples of Cast GFRC




GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
Cast travertine


GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
Top molding: ribbon-and-reed
Bottom: Egg-and-dart over bead-and-reel


Left: Roman (smooth shaft) Ionic column from GFRC with faux finished marble.
Right: Exterior panel made from GFRC (g
lass fiber reinforced concrete).
Panel detail in next illustration:



GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
Bell flowers ..... Ribbon ..... Bead-and-reel at bottom



Long GFRC panel: duplicate guilloche used on Webb Building
Short GFRC panel: Acanthus leaves above egg-and-dart



GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
Griffins and acanthus leaves



Upper right pediment: Center cartouche with C scroll sides and centered letter M  flanked by scrolling acanthus leaves.

Left panel and Corinthian capital on ground detailed in photo below:


Panel: Oval medallion flanked by ribbon and garland, in turn flanked by griffins.


GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
Corinthian capital model. The white sections are replacements.



GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete
Urn over grotesque in center of cast panel.

Paired putto/ acanthus leaf  grotesques: "... this insatiable desire of man sometimes prefers to an ordinary building, with its pillars and doors, one falsely constructed in grotesque style, with pillars formed of children growing out of stalks of flowers, with architraves and cornices of branches of myrtle and doorways of reeds and other things, all seeming impossible and contrary to reason, yet it may be really great work if it is performed by a skillful artist." - Francisco de Holanda, in his third dialog of Da Pintura Antiga, 1548.
Cf., winged goddesses formed out of acanthus leaves in Empress Josephine's Great Salon

Client in NYC.


Neoclassical Doric style: Triglyphs and guttae ..... Round medallions in metopes

Client in NYC.


Group of GFRC Columns
A.............. B.................... C .................... D .................E
A: Tuscan column
B: Ionic column
C: Modified Corinthian column
D: Ionic capital on short, square base
E: Ionic pilaster, including   bellflower wreath and bead-and-reel beneath Ionic capital



C: GFRC detail, Ionic column



D: GFRC Ionic capital on short, square base



E: GFRC Ionic pilaster, including bellflower wreath and bead-and-reel beneath Ionic capital


Replicated wood carriage and GFRC  barrel which is on the table behind the carriage. See next photo:



5' 6" in. long. barrel.


Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting partner/sculptor Leo Lysy



Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting partner/business manager Gary Bolles

Examples of Buffalo Plastering's work on Buffalo Architecture and History Website:


Special thanks to Gary Bolles and Leo Lysy for their assistance in 2011.

Photos  2011 Chuck LaChiusa
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