Historic Preservation Visiting Artisan Series features Master Plasterers

#1321 | October 25, 2012

Historic Preservation Visiting Artisan Series features Master Plasterers

Father-Son team to teach traditional lime plastering techniques

SAVANNAH – Savannah Technical College will host its Historic Preservation Visiting Artisan series featuring Jeff and Henry Orton, traditional lime plasterers from Leicestershire, U.K., the week of November 12 – 17, 2012.

   The Ortons are a father-son plastering team. Jeff has more than 40 years in the plastering business, working on a vast array of sites throughout the world. His son Henry, after pursuing his university degree, followed his father into the plastering trades and today is working for a pargetting company. Jeff and Henry will teach students bench running and in-situ crown molding running throughout the week in the STC Historic Preservation lab (5717 White Bluff Road, Savannah, 31405).

   The Ortons will instruct and work with the students to repair damaged plaster at St. John’s Episcopal Church (1 West Macon Street, Savannah) from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 17. This event is free and open to the public.

   Through a full plastering apprenticeship, Jeff Orton gained a “First Class” in the Craft level City and Guilds, followed by a “Distinction” in the Advanced Craft City and Guilds Final Examination in Plasterwork. He is registered with the Worshipful Company of Plaisterer’s (CRP) of which he is a freeman, and is also an Associate of the Plaisterer’s Company (APC) who now publishes a directory of skilled Plasterer’s. In 1981 he attended the San Servolo Architectural Conservation Course for Craftsmen in Venice, achieving the grade “Excellent” in the final examination. He is a member and past chairman of the Plasterers Craft Guild, which was established 60 years ago, to pursue the ideal of craft excellence within the plastering trade; through education and the ongoing development of skills in the industry. He is also a member of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), who towards the end of 2010 awarded him The William Morris Craft Fellowship ‘Queen Mother Memorial Medal’ For Conspicuous Service To The Crafts. In addition he is a committee member of the Building Limes Forum.

   Henry Orton studied fine art at Birmingham School of Art. During his summer breaks from studies he worked as a Plasterer’s Labourer for Trumpers Ltd with his father, Jeff Orton. During these summer months Henry worked at Hardwick hall, Derbyshire repairing the plaster floors in the attic rooms and the Cut Velvet Room. Also, at Stoke Rochford Hall, Lincolnshire he helped save and record surviving fragments of the early Victorian Jacobean plaster ceilings damaged by a severe fire. For his final examination Henry drew from these experiences, reflecting on craftsmanship focusing on plasterwork. Taught by his father, Henry learned how to replicate the cornice work in the art school using fibrous plaster. Displaying the casts in the corridors gained him a first class honors degree.

   The Visiting Artisan series is the first effort of its kind at any of Georgia’s technical colleges, bringing three world-class craftsmen to campus each for a week throughout the year. Savannah Tech has the only hands-on preservation program in the state. The program has gained international recognition and has contributed to a number of community-based preservation projects in the surrounding communities. The program is the cornerstone of new instructional programs in Green Building Technology, which focuses on a comprehensive view of systems and efficiencies in construction.

   For information about the Visiting Artisan series and Historic Preservation at Savannah Technical College, contact Steve Hartley at or 912.443.5864.


Savannah Technical College Media Contact:
Amy Shaffer, APR,
Savannah Technical College Historic Preservation
Steve Hartley, Department Head

Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.

Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of Savannah Technical College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (