A Touch of Class...

I was recently asked to take a trip to Alberta to give a few lessons on the application of some European style, exterior Lime Stucco finishes. The project itself is nestled on a small 80 acre sustainable farm just outside Leftbridge, Alberta named Harvest Haven.
The structures that were worked on were made up of some truly beautiful Japanese timber frame work with light clay/straw as infill. The decision was made to use a Hydraulic Lime for this particular project, mainly due to the vulnerability of the walls being exposed to huge areas of open land and the time of year in which the project was taking place. The team at Harvest Haven have an ongoing blog that is definitely worth checking out which allows you to follow progress and keep informed of the alternative construction methods, materials, etc. they use and have incorporated on their farm. 
One of the great parts of this trip and experience was meeting a very well known 2nd generation Master Japanese Plasterer named Kobayashi-san. What this guy doesn't know about Clay plasters really isn't worth knowing. We discussed an array of different Japanese techniques to do with the application of traditional plasters, finishing, and damage prevention which was very insightful. I witnessed Kobayashi-san and his apprentice manufacturing a finishing lime which included, in its ingredients, the use of Seaweed!. As Kobayashi-san explained to me the seaweed ingredient acts as both a hardener and as a bonding agent. It was very interesting to see the differences and similarities between the traditional Japanese and European styles of plastering, namely the  importance of aesthetics. In European style, aesthetics are generally thought of in regards to the finishing coats and the build up to this is from a practical stand point, whereas traditional Japanese style aesthetics start right from the beginning...from the substrate to the finish with the belief being that a wall should look pleasing at every stage to draw peoples attention and curiosity. In both cases I believe there are both pro's and con's to these approaches but in the end it all works and works VERY well.