The men and women who comprise the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) painting craft are master illusionists and AOC's teams of plasterers ensure the unique historic fabric of the buildings on Capitol Hill is preserved while the modern needs of Congress are served.

Turning wood into marble, metal into wood, one dimensional into three dimensional; these are all "tricks" of the trade for the painters of the AOC.

Watch the video below for a behind the scenes look at how AOC's painters care for the ornate walls of the Library of Congress.

Decorative Painters at the Library of Congress

In use since the ancient Romans and even today on Capitol Hill, plaster is integral to the many buildings under our care. This use of plaster ranges from the most basic use such as drywall to more intricate uses such as the ornate U.S. House of Representatives Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room.

The Plaster Leader for the House Office Buildings day shift, Shirlon "Elvis" Maynard and his team are responsible for nearly every wall and ceiling in the House Office Buildings. This includes projects such as finishing drywall installed in renovated spaces, touch-ups during office moves and detailed ornamental plastering that is a unique and rare art.

According to Maynard, ornamental plastering is such a rare art that when a 1992 fire destroyed historic spaces within England's Windsor Castle, ornamental plasters had to be brought from around the world as part of the restoration efforts a few years later.

"Anyone can just throw mud on a wall. It is an art to do it. It is hard work and you don't learn it overnight. We need to create an apprenticeship program to help cultivate a next generation of plasterers to ensure we have the manpower to maintain this historic building."

- Shirlon "elvis" maynard, house office building plaster leader

A member of AOC's Library Buildings and Grounds Paint Division.
A look inside the U.S. Capitol Paint Division.
Robert Gannon smoothes out imperfections in a plaster cast.

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