A Kinship With Earth's Color

Orit Yanai’s art could be described as 25% work, 75% psychology. As an erudite of natural earth and lime plasters, Yanai has spent many years studying the relationship between nature, color and people. “I first hold a color consultation with my clients. It is here that I look for kinship between customer and color. It is a very deep relationship. The house is the canvas, the client is the composer, and I execute the melody.” 

This melody comes from the material Yanai has mastered. As the lead contractor of American Clay in the bay area, Yanai's metier is in the application and textures achieved through the interior clay plaster.

Yanai also specializes in plastering exterior walls and shower stalls with eco stucco lime plaster, in the Moroccan Tadelakt style of the plaster that dates back over 4000 years.

Tadelakt is a finishing technique that acts as a fungicide and as a natural humidity and temperature regulator. Lime plaster is applied in multiple coats and is polished with black soap, a by-product of olive oil making. The chemical reaction that occurs between the lime plaster and black soap seals the lime plaster, resulting in an unmistakable waterproof finish.  Traditionally, the soap is applied with a small river stone that fittingly is the size of one’s palm. Yanai uses Japanese tools for the same effect.

The clay Yanai works with is considered to be least environmentally impacting product on the market. This is because the product is made from the earth and no heat is involved in production. In fact, the only carbon footprint felt is from transporting the finished material.

As a LEED AP artist, Yanai feels achieving an eco-friendly finish inside and outside your home is easier now more than ever. Eco-friendly paints are readily available and the price has gone down due to demand. She warns consumers to know what questions to ask before purchasing green paints and plasters, as some are wrongfully marketed. If you wish to do the application on your own, Yanai recommends practicing, whether it is on panels or through a workshop- practice, practice, practice- to achieve the look that speaks to you.

“I find that woman are very drawn to clay. I see this originating from traditional methods before synthetic plaser were produced: Men built the house, the women racked it with earth.”

Learn more about Orit Yanai's work, or to schedule a workshop session of your own.

See American Clay's current collection.