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Pargeting is a type of plasterwork process that is often used to add some sort of ornamentation to walls, usually in the form of a relief or a plaster design that covers the entire expanse of a wall. The term itself is sometimes spelled "pargetting" and is believed to have originated in the 17th century. As a type of decorative plastering, pargeting can be used to create a wide range of geometric shapes and even lifelike images of pastoral scenes, people, or animals. The technique can also be used for practical applications, such as creating a smooth surface on a wall that would otherwise appear quite rough.
The basic process of pargeting involves the application of wet plaster to a section of wall. Typically, the plaster is held in position with the use of a series of pegs or nails that provide enough support for the wet plaster while still making it possible to shape the material using the hands or even various types of tools. The formation of the decorative elements continues for as long as the plaster remains somewhat malleable, with the time frame varying based on the ingredients in the plaster mix along with the prevailing weather conditions. When successful, pargeting can add a great deal of visual interest to walls.
Along with serving as a means of adding decoration to walls, pargeting has also served the practical purpose of hiding studs at the joints in which walls are joined. This was particularly true during medieval times, and the technique allows the joints to appear uniform and smoother. The technique was and to an extent may still be used today to help create interesting facades on the exterior walls of buildings, and can even be used for interior walls if desired. The range of decorations that may be created using this technique is only limited by the imagination and resources of the designer.
An alternative use of pargeting is also found in the lining of fireplaces, specifically the flues that are used to process the smoke created by those fires. The plastering approach helps to create a smooth surface within the flues, which is more conducive to expelling the smoke through the channel of the flue. Using this approach to flue construction is similar to that of using pargeting on a wall, in that nails or pegs are used to help hold the plaster in position while it is shaped and molded to the specifications of the designer.