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  The History of the

  Ceiling Medallion





  The Art of Medallions                  



These jewels of the ceiling have been around  for a long time and are the focal point of interior design.  In earlier homes of distinction they were hand crafted in plaster then painted or foiled with gold in only the palaces of the elite. As an applied delicate ceiling motif, it took artisans hundreds of hours to create and install these gems by hand.



Finally, a less complicated idea from Greek and Roman times allowed the medallion to be cast from plaster as a whole piece and actually be plastered in place on the ceiling as one unit.  This allowed for mass production of this magnificent art form making it available to the average home at a fraction of the original cost of the hand crafted masterpieces. 


Technical progress and urbanization resulted in more people having money for medallions in their own homes.   Ceiling heights were lower than that of the larger palaces of royalty, thus the chandeliers were hung closer to the ceiling.  This became a problem particularly with the proximity of the candle flame to the ceiling above. The whole piece plaster medallion became an excellent economical way to create a non-combustible fire barrier between the ceiling and the open flame. It even allowed for wall paper to adorn a ceiling with less fear of fire. 


The introduction of the gas lamp, although safer, still required a heat and fire barrier just as the candles did in earlier times.  In order to be an effective fire barrier, the medallion had to be 2/3rds larger than the arms of the chandelier holding the flame.


As the electric age dawned, medallions became less of a functional entity and more of an anchor for ceiling decoration.  Now available to all, through mass production, these gems of ceiling decor are economical and easy to install.  Plaster requires professional installation, so producers have made them from a lite weight ArchPolymerTM.  This synthetic material has the same consistency as white pine and installs with a construction adhesive and looks like detailed plaster at a fraction of the cost. 


Imperial's medallion collection can be made from GRG-NeoPlasterTM in order to provide the necessary ASTM-E84 non combustible fire rating for commercial applications. One can also order the ArchPolymerTM treated with a fire retardant primer that allows two hours of protection.


As a major element of interior design, ceiling medallions have evolved from delicate rococo spider lines, to the heavier acanthus leaves, to the elegant lines of the Federal period, to the modern waves of Art Deco.  Today they re the focal point of interest in a room that creates an illusion of height and are a major element setting the style of the entire room. 



At MartinRichardsDesignTM

we try to incorporate the various traditional element in a more modern context. The medallion shown here combines the traditional egg and dart molding with acanthus leaves in a symmetrical effect.


This wonderful design has three similar matching sizes.  Speaking about sizing a medallion we have written a great article on How to Size a Medallion which you might be interested in reading.







For those that are looking for the modernism that was expressed in the Art Deco period we created IPMRD8012 and IPMRD8014 ovals.  The graduated ovals are smooth and can appeal to many modern collections.







Our new rectangular medallion has over 30 metal inserts and holes can be drilled anywhere on the surface area for drop lights. 



In conclusion, the ceiling medallion is a truly brilliant design gem that has evolved from pure decoration, to a fire barrier protector to the epicenter of a room's style. 


     Martin Richards, Pres  MartinRichardsDesignTM 


   See our extensive collection @  






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     and Imperial Productions®                                                        Feb 2018  all rights reserved

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