Kipsi Helsinki: A plaster master with a deep passion for his craft
By Ndéla Faye | Photos: Sami Tuoriniemi
Kipsi Helsinki was born out of plaster master Aleksi Vallemaa’s fascination for plaster. In his Helsinki-based workshop, he and his team make made-to-measure plasterwork designed by hand, using plaster of Paris, classified as the purest in the world. With plaster, the sky’s the limit when it comes to design possibilities.
Aleksi Vallemaa’s passion for plastering was sparked in the early 2000s, when he met some French plasterers in Helsinki. A few months later, through a series of coincidences, Vallemaa was studying the trade in the south of France. “In France, the plastering technique used is over two centuries old, and you cannot learn the trade in a year. Learning requires a lot of repetition and persistence – and the mixing of the plaster is not done by calculating measurements, it’s done by feel,” Vallemaa explains.
In Finland, there are only a handful of companies operating in the plastering industry, and there is huge demand for their niche expertise. After returning to Finland, Vallemaa set up his own company in 2005. Since plaster masters are not trained in Finland, Vallemaa has trained plastering experts himself.
His company, Kipsi Helsinki, has six employees who design, manufacture and install high-quality plaster elements for private homes, hotels, mansions, public spaces and luxury cruise ships. They make custom-made designs for clients, ranging from small decorative features to large design features. “Old mansions usually have many plaster motifs. Some of the wall elements on luxury cruise ships are made from plaster, too. In private homes, we make everything from original fireplace mantlepieces to ceiling rosettes,” he says.
The endless possibilities of plaster
Plaster features were fashionable in Finland during the Romantic era in the 19th century, but judging by the endless stream of clients at Kipsi Helsinki, it is making a comeback in a big way. All of Kipsi Helsinki’s plastering is made by hand, and they use plaster of Paris, which is classed as the purest type of plaster in the world; it only being made up of three ingredients: water, plaster and sisal fibre. By mixing the ingredients, the possibilities of the forms to create with it are endless, which is why Vallemaa was instantly drawn to it. “Plaster can be bent to any shape. I found its versatility and the endless possibilities in creating with it fascinating,” he states.
In addition to dozens of ready-made models, Kipsi Helsinki manufactures high-quality made-to-measure plaster works. Plaster is a durable, timeless and high-quality material that can be used to shape almost anything, from small plaster decorations to large ceiling and wall elements. As an allergy-friendly, sound-absorbing and non-flammable material, it is suitable for both homes and busy public spaces. “It’s a common misconception that plaster is a fragile material. However, plaster of Paris is very durable and it can be used to create impact-resistant products, such as skirting boards, door frames, supportive columns or even furniture,” Vallemaa explains.
Another benefit of plaster is that it can be fitted seamlessly even in small corners and curved surfaces. It can also be used to hide unsightly features, such as electrical cables and air conditioning vents.
Recently, Kipsi Helsinki completed a project of providing all the plasterwork to an entire apartment building in Helsinki, and they continue to work on several international luxury cruise ships. “Because of the versatility of plaster, no two days are the same. Our clients have different needs and wishes, and we want to provide our customers the best possible end result. As a company, we want to honour the ancient traditions of plasterwork, while always expanding our own know-how,” the plaster master concludes.
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