Artisan Paradise: Fine Plastering Work Finds a Home in Charlestown

Convenience and low cost rarely work out over the long term when it comes to renovating a home, and no one know that better than Colby Blauvelt of Trowel Inc. Plasterers – who has taken on his father’s business after decades of craftsmanship in the plastering field.

Plastering is a lost art in many regions, but not the Boston and New England areas where the craft has been honed and passed down for several generations. While other parts of the country opt for sheetrock, Boston and its historic homes often choose plastering – a longer-term solution for walls, ceilings and artistic work.

A Charlestown resident, along with his fiancée Audrey Genest, Blauvelt learned the craft from his father, who operated the business for 30 years and is still involved part-time.

“My father was taught by a good friend of his – a first-generation Italian guy,” said Blauvelt. “Boston actually has a pretty rich history of Italian lime plasterers. That’s how my father learned and started his business 30 years ago. I would work with him on the summer in high school. I always knew I wanted to go into trades and this craft is so authentic and hands-on. Every plasterer is different and has a different touch.”

Colby Blauvelt of Trowel Inc. Plasterers works on a ceiling recently. The Charlestown resident has taken over his father’s long-standing business and is trumpeting the positives of plaster.

After working seven years with his father, Blauvelt took over the business four years ago and found a huge market for plaster work in the numerous high-end project going up in the city – as well as the desire by many homeowners to renovate old homes traditionally.

“A lot of the high-end projects in Boston require this kind of work,” he said. “It takes a very experienced traditional plasterer on many of these projects to achieve what the architects are calling for. It’s highly specialized and really cool in that way.”

Blauvelt specializes in the blueboard and veneer process, which is used on walls and ceilings and is a superior product to a sheetrock wall. Many of the gut-rehab jobs in Boston nowadays look for this process, he said.

He also works on the more decorative plaster features in old and newer homes too. That is the more traditional lime plaster work, and what he does enjoy.

“That’s what plasterers were until the 1930s and 1940s,” he said. “If your home is built before 1900, there’s a 100 percent chance it is lime plaster. It’s a much more detailed process.”

For Blauvelt, there is no job too small and he said they work from big to small.

“We do everything,” he said. “We do a lot of big, new buildings in town and we do small bathrooms in homes. Right now I’m also working a lot with interior designers and architects with lime plaster. They want a certain look or movement on the wall. I really love that aspect of it.”

To get in touch with Trowel, call (781) 454-6118 or check out their Instagram account ‘Trowel Inc.’

Covid And A Wedding

Charlestown residents, Colby Blauvelt and Audrey Genest, were supposed to be getting married at the end of June. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, plans shifted. Now their dream wedding is another year away. Over the past weeks they did all of the exciting pre-wedding rituals– picking up the wedding bands, the “final” fitting for the wedding dress, all with no wedding in sight. In addition to the change of wedding plans, Colby’s side job as a touring musician completely came to a halt.

“On March 13, the band and I were on our way to New Jersey to play a show when we got the call it was cancelled. Then we got the call that our whole Spring tour was cancelled,” he said.

While everything seemed to moving in the wrong direction, Colby was determined to find a silver lining. Working with his father’s plastering company since he was 18 years old, he has always had a hand in the trade and in the business, but he often had to split his time with his music career. With more free time on his hands, Colby and his brother Dean decided to take a renewed look at the business and use this time to grow into new markets and garner some industry specialties, such as lime plaster and decorative finishes.

“Charlestown has been my home for over two years now, and I would love to take what my father has worked so hard to build and grow it in this wonderful community and its residents,” he said.

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