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Cape Cod Clam Shell Horse Hair Plaster

Imagination, ingenuity, and clever hands were needed in the early days of Cape Cod, when the houses, some of which stand sturdily today, were built to stand against the elements of winter winds and storms from the sea.

The necessity did not, however, dim the Cape Codder’s feeling for line and beauty, for a really old Cape Cod house is a masterpiece of design and craftsmanship. Cape Cod house builders in the early days were handicapped by the scarcity of orthodox materials such as lime for plaster, paint for decorating the home, and other now “necessary materials.”

But these builders were an ingenious group. Lacking lime, they provided a very efficient substitute by utilizing the by-products of their table diet—clams and oysters. The shells of these sea animals were rich in lime, and when prepared and ground, they formed the essential ingredient of the famous clamshell plaster. This was well mixed with hair (usually horse hair) to give it body, and thinly spread over the lathing.

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 02/13/06
Categories: HistoryHouses
Keywords: cape cod house, history, architecture, clamshell plaster, horse hair, lathing


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