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How Tuscan brought Hollywood back to the Earl Smith Strand Theatre

A grand performance for a grand lady


"You have no idea how impressed and excited our guests are when they enter the

 theatre and see the transformation."

Earl Reece, Strand executive director

The Challenge


Two weeks to make over the lobby of this historic 1935 suburban Atlanta theater to restore its grandeur and Art Deco style.







The Work


Designer Eve Gray leads a team of five plaster artists, who use American Clay Natural Earth Plasters and FirmoLux authentic Italian Plaster to resurface drywall and block. Eve adds mica to the American Clay finishes on many of the walls and uses FirmoLux to transform pillars into gleaming sentinels of artistic statement.





The Reveal


"You are a master designer in the truest definition."

Earl Reece, Strand executive director

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The Palette

"The space spoke to me from the first moment. The sconces and the chandelier -- more of a classic Florentine -- drove the design concept. But I knew the plasters would created an ideal showcase. I wanted to return the Hollywood romance to the space,Ē says Eve.

"The golds, greens and browns are reminiscent of the older theaters -- you had to have gold. Many of the decisions for carpeting, tile and other surfaces had been made, so it was my challenge to create a palette that worked with the other materials."

All surfaces were plastered by Tuscanís artists, except the crown molding and the decorative wall panels just below the mezzanine, which were painted. The American Clay Natural Earth Plasters and the FirmoLux authentic Italian Plasters are imbued with color. They are not painted. The raised stencil on the panels is an Italian Plaster that has been gold-leafed.

The trey ceiling is a combination of American Clay plasters. The exterior tiers are a double layer of untinted Loma. The inset is a bi-color plaster highlighted by a gold wax created by Eve. Four artists worked on the ceiling for three days.  The wall containing the large photographs is two layers of American Clay Loma.

The soffits straddling the columns above the mezzanine are Loma. The grayish-white walls are an untinted Loma, trowel-applied in two layers. It is one of Eveís most requested finishes because of its organic look and compatibility with most design styles.

The three columns on the wall of the theater entrance are Italian Plaster, applied in four coats with a skip-trowel method --  which created the decorative voids -- then trowel-burnished to a high gloss. The Pietra Toscana finish was created by Eve, who has studied plaster on three continents. Each Italian Plaster finish is unique because its beauty is created by the artistís hand. The American Clay plaster on the grand staircase wall is a two-layer Loma custom color, to pick up the carpetís hues.

The back wall of the mezzanine level is Eve's interpretation of an interior floor of a Moroccan riad. The hand-created block is a nod to the geometric and primitive influences on Art Deco. The block is an American Clay Marittimo built in stages and highlighted by a finishing soap Eve imports from Marrakech. The ceiling is a double layer of Loma, done in a bi-color to suggest a sky that would be seen through the glassed opening in the riadís roof.

 The walls and ceilings of the theaterís ante room are a FirmoLux authentic Italian Plaster, in metallic finishes.


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Eve Gray, Master Artist