© Kia Ricchi

Can't find the tool that you need?  Then do it yourself. . . make the darn thing!

Although the construction tool industry has done a good job producing tools for our trade, some trades are less fortunate.  Themed plaster, for one. Themed plaster refers to stucco that has been artistically manipulated. The large carved rocks around swimming pools are an example of themed plaster as well as the carved themed facades throughout Disney and other theme parks.

When themed plaster is done correctly, you shouldn't notice it. The rocks look real and so do the Mayan ruins and medieval castles. And the cement industry has developed many products, such as acid stains and color tints, to help us masonry artists create this illusion.

This industry has also produced some nifty equipment for this trade such as miniature stucco mixers that mix small batches of stucco. But carving tools, unfortunately, are sorely lacking. Sure, there are a number of sculpture tools available at art stores but cement eats up these delicate implements lickety-split.  So our inventive nature kicks into gear and we make our own "tools of the trade." One of my favorite tools- used to create cement wood beams- has bristles from a street-cleaning vehicle. (This was a gift from my fellow plasterers so don't ask me how the guys got them!)

In addition to carving tools, I have made tools to bend the #2 and #3 rebar used to form the rebar cages that support the stucco.

Because themed plaster is both structural and aesthetic, some monumental works of art have been created such as Disney's Tree of Life.  This tree has inspired many artists and it helped to create the "decorative concrete" industry.  Now if they would only make us some more carving tools. . .

Here are a few of my concrete sculptures at

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pj @
08:50AM on November 27, 2008
I learned something new! Excellent!
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