Staff (building material)

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Staff is a kind of artificial stone used for covering and ornamenting buildings.

A staff facade from the 1904 World's Fair, the entrance to an exhibition hall

Staff is chiefly made of powdered gypsum or plaster of Paris, with a little cement, glycerin, and dextrin, mixed with water until it is about as thick as molasses, when staff is cast in molds it can form any shape. To strengthen it coarse cloth or bagging, or fibers of hemp or jute, are put into the molds before casting. It becomes hard enough in about a half hour to be removed and fastened on the building in construction. Staff may easily be bent, sawed, bored, or nailed. Its natural color is murky white, but it may be made to resemble any kind of stone.

Staff was invented in France about 1876 and was used in the construction and ornamentation of the buildings of the Paris Expositions of 1878 and of 1889. It was also largely used in the construction of the buildings of the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, at the Omaha and Buffalo Expositions in 1898 and 1901, at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, and at later expositions and on temporary buildings of other kinds.

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