Ewing Restoration is a small company whose sole purpose is the restoration, installation and management of plain (flat) and ornamental plasterwork projects. Our projects are centered around the qualifications and capabilities of Brian Ewing, a nationally noted professional in the field of plaster restoration.
Our capabilities include virtually every aspect of the plastering trade. We have received accolades for everything from our exterior stucco projects to our installations (both restoration and new) of ornamental plaster. We were the prime contractor for projects such as the Senate Chamber of the North Carolina State Capitol, called the "Finest interior restoration of a public building in the South", for which we also won the 1995 Anthemion Award for excellence in Craftsmanship. We also restored the House Chamber at the NC State Capitol. The restoration of the NC Governors Mansion, The NC Court of Administrative appeals, Duke University, Wake Forrest University and University of NC at Chapel Hill.
Historical accuracy is of utmost importance to Ewing Restoration. Right down to our methods used and the materials, if the customer desires. We are one of the last companies still using "Horse Hide Glue" or "Gelatin" molds for historical posterity. You can learn how to use this material in an article, written by Brian Ewing, in "The Old-House Journal" magazine, in their Jan/Feb, 1995 issue or by purchasing one of our plaster guides (Coming Soon!) here on this web. There are also a few slide shows you can check out.
If all you have left is an old photograph or a fading memory, Ewing Restoration can bring it to reality. Water damage or the usual movement of a building, with time, can both have a dramatic effect on historic plasterwork. Ewing Restoration has extensive knowledge in the reparation of such problems.
Our work has carried us all over the United States. There are no boundaries to where we will go, to do what we love to do so much. We have consulted on the restoration of the scagliola and plasterwork in the Proctor Theatre in Schenectady, New York, and we have restored homes in Charleston, South Carolina, among other States. We are currently negotiating on projects in Florida, Michigan, South Dakota and New York (as of late 2000).
For architects and home owners who need to know the condition of their plasterwork and the proper plan for its restoration, we offer a state of the art, plaster conditions assessment. Using sophisticated tools to measure moisture contents and other conditions we can determine not only the probable causes of the problems but also give a schedule of events to take place for its reparation. These conditions assessments include Photographs, room by room details of the problems and their probable causes and even specifications for the types of plasterwork needing work. Please see an sample of our plaster conditions assessments.
We hope you enjoy our web site, written by Brian Ewing, and notice the incredible diversity in plasterwork that we have done, and have done well, in the past.
And where did Brian Ewing come from?
I started plastering, in Southern California, when I was 16 years old during the construction boom of the 1970's and 80's. At that time the Plasterer's Union was strong and quite large. It was under the tutelage of master artisans teaching the craft at Long Beach City College, in Long Beach Calif., that I learned that plastering was my calling, with it's requirement to learn math, such as trigonometry, geometry and algebra along with the manual dexterity it requires to be a good mechanic in plastering, I found it to be challenging and engaging, and I still do. Plastering is one craft where no one person can claim they know everything, there is that much to learn about this trade that dates back so many millennia.
My first duties as a plasterer were working on a "gun crew". The gun crew, with around 12 plasterers on the team, is responsible for applying the scratch and brown coats for exterior Portland cement based stucco. We would typically apply a scratch coat, the first coat of Portland cement over the exposed lath, to 10 to 15 houses a day. We would then back track and brown coat about 5 to 8 houses a day over the scratch coats, it is this coat that makes the walls straight and true. I worked my way up the ladder within the crew to eventually land the job as crew Forman. Working on a plastering crew is a grueling experience that requires stamina, strength, knowledge of what you're doing and the leadership skills to keep the crew running at full production.
After about 10 years of working on a gun crew and finally gaining my Journeyman card from the union, I finaly had the experience to move up to working on a finish crew. The finish crews are responsible for applying the finish coats of stucco over the brown coats and is the final coat you see in exterior stucco. We would typically finish coat about 4 to 5 houses a day. It was a grueling job but very satisfying when you can look back on your work and realize the art behind the process. I was well known for the beautiful textures that I could apply.
I had the good fortune to be related to a rather well known Master Plasterer who helped me land some important projects. My uncle Garland was known to be so good at plastering that he would leave work at the end of the day with his white uniform just as bright white as when he showed up in the morning, yet still do just as much work as the best of us, I'm still trying to figure out how he managed that.
Among the projects I worked on were several rides in Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, in Southern California. It was at these projects where I learned to make faux rocks and boulders, grottos and mountains. Under the watchful eye of my tormentor, er I mean mentor, Uncle Garland, I learned many of the trade secrets that have been passed down through the generations of the family. Eventually Garland had me follow him to his more lucrative projects working on very large mansions in the Southern California area. It was at these projects where I got my feet wet creating and installing custom ornamental plaster. I owe everything to my patient, and sometimes stern, Uncle Garland ( I remember one day I was missing my small trowel and at the end of the day Garland walked up and handed it back to me spotlessly clean. He told me a lesson I remember to this day, don't leave your tools around and keep them clean. He would say "a clean tool is a happy tool". How right he was!).
In 1987 I came to North Carolina to visit a friend in Burlington. Curious as to what the plastering was like in N.C. I met a man that worked for the local cement supply house. I found out that plasterers were extremely scarce in these parts and I eventually stayed in N.C. as my supplier started sending work to me. One day I learned that a building owner in Raleigh was having a tough time finding someone who knew how to do ornamental plastering. While doing this project the curator of the old N.C. Capitol stopped by and asked if I would look at some plaster damage in the old Capitol. I eventually worked on the old Capitol through two phases and as the prime contractor for phase one.
One day I learned of an old timer plasterer from Philadelphia, M. Earle Felber, who had worked in many movie palaces back in the 20's and even the decorative plaster in the white house during one of its renovations. The movie palaces he worked on weren't restoration jobs either, he was the original plasterer in what are now historic landmarks, like the Roxy, The Apollo, Keith's Flushing and many, many others.
Mr. Felber taught me many of the more arcane techniques of the plastering trade. I learned techniques such as scagliola, sgraffito and creating molds using ancient methods like horse-hide glue, which I eventually wrote an article about for the magazine "Old House Journal". It is believed that this was the first time this technique was ever printed in a monthly magazine. Because of Mr. Felbers tutelage I became to be known as among the best plasterers on the East coast and was able to land the most lucrative projects in the plastering field.
After 35 years in the plastering craft I am still going strong and learning with every project. I have always had a sense of pride in the history, artistry and technical expertise it takes to bring a project to fruition and I look forward to many more years of creating the very best plastering projects one can find, or hope to do.
I am proud to call myself an "artificer in plaster".
Brian Ewing.....When Only A Craftsman Will Do!
If you would like to know about the personal side of Brian Ewing follow here.