San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Czech Craftsman Takes Finishes to New Heights

Sometime in his mid-40s, Karel Dedek crossed over from a simple housepainter to an artist. Challenged to design a gold-crusted finish for a client in the Canadian city of Toronto, he developed a set of tools to mold coarse plaster into a textured, elegant sample.

Continuing to experiment with new materials and tools, he eventually developed a portfolio of original finishing techniques, ranging from glossy finishes on columns to sandstone crests in entryways.

His work, which adorns the ceilings of $14 million homes and the walls of corporate boardrooms, has been recognized throughout North America for its “unparalleled technique” and “originality,” according to past clients.

“I never learned anything from anyone. I taught myself everything,” says Dedek, 60, a native of the Czech Republic who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States.

Looking for a new challenge and eager to grow his business in international markets, he moved to Costa Rica last year. What he learned when he arrived was that his new country lacked a history in wall decor.

“Costa Rica doesn’t have a tradition in decorating finish,” Dedek says. “Yes, you can hang a painting on a wall, but what I do gives a room a whole new feel.”

Dedek set to work dressing the interiors of Costa Rican homes with soft, opulent finishes and warmly textured coatings.

The self-taught craftsman says he developed his skills through years of experimentation in which he combined the mindset of an entrepreneur with the artistic eye of a longtime photographer. He markets his services to a high-end clientele, and calls his work an art form that cannot be replicated using basic tools or standard techniques.

Sitting in the entryway of the RE/MAX Imperio office in the western San José suburb of Escazú, where he adorned the walls with a textured sand-colored layering, Dedek talks about his vision of opening an international school here to share the methods he’s perfected throughout his career.

Carefully unwrapping a plaster sample marked with shell imprints – a gold-plated plaque enhanced by a delta-like pattern of raised lines and a smooth outline of a family crest – to show his work, Dedek says, “I like doing something original, something no one else has done before.”

For more information about Dedek’s work, contact him at rates begin at $7 to $10 per square foot.


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