From ancient times to modern day, sculptural decorations on walls and ceilings have always been the object of intrigue. This fascination also extends to reliefs and detached shapes made from stucco with a monochrome surface - which enhances the decorative value through the play of shadows caused by plasticity - or a polychrome surface.
Stucco consists of lime plaster or gypsum plaster (or a mixture of both) and may contain various additives which could potentially alter the colour and structure or the material’s properties. A number of different materials can be used as a base, such as stone, brick or wood, to name but a few.
Apart from applying regular sculpting techniques, stucco may be shaped in different ways: Plaster which is applied on the ground and then shaped freely using trowels or other tools is called modelled stucco. Elements cast in a negative mould which are moved upon solidification are called cast stucco, and decorative parts which are made by pushing a rigid profile 'horse' along and through quantities of plaster set up on the wall or ceiling are called drawn stucco.
The frequent use of stucco as both an interior and exterior finish on historic buildings poses a great challenge to restorers as they must acquaint themselves with all historical methods used. The different kinds of damage caused by environmental influences require new approaches to problem solving in order to conserve the individual artwork for the future without causing further damage during the restoration process, something that has occurred frequently in the past decades. It must be the goal of any restoration project to conserve the monument's beauty and its historical value for the future.