Stucco ABCs and advice

I want to build some low walls and arches and decorative elements using stucco.
Can anyone provide me with some sites where the ABCs are given. I googled, and got information from here to yonder. All sorts of information on recipes and history and how-tos, but little with pictures of actual finished work.
What I'm mainly interested in is construction methods. Is it most common to build forms, such as wood forms, then "chicken wire", then stucco to cover, or to build a cinderblock wall and then just stucco the wall? I'm sure that the cinderblock would be more sturdy and permanent. But would the wood/wire/stucco composite wall be any the less? It surely could be more decorative, being able to incorporate arches and curved lines rather than the rectangular limitations of block.
But how does this age? Does the wood deteriorate over time, or does the stucco slough off .... discolor ..........
Please share your experiences and advice as to what you would do.
Basically, I want to do a lot of "southwest architecture" to make a desert southwest/Indian motif. I will throw in a lot of "fluff", being tilework, fired tiles, wrought iron work, plasma cut metal, logs on end, beams, etc. But, to link it all together, I want to know if it would be better to block wall it all or make the wood/wire forms. Or both.
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