What type of stone is that sculpture?

5/21/2021


The world is two thirds water. What is not water is stone, or minerals that make up stone. Stone comes in an amazing array of color, texture and hardness. In 1812, Frederich Mohs, a German mineralogist, created a hardness scale for all minerals. The scale is from one to ten, one being the softest stones like soapstone and ten being a diamond.

In between is a head spinning mountain of types of stone. Most stone carvers start with alabaster. Alabaster is soft and comes in colors like, white translucent, cream, tan, red, and orange. The deserts of Utah are the home to the largest deposits of colorful alabaster that can be carved in the US, but alabaster is abundant in many areas.

Limestone is the most abundant mineral on earth. There was a vast sea that covered most of the central US which stretched from the Gulf of Mexico north through the Midwest and left large deposits in Kansas, Texas and Indiana. Indiana limestone is grayish and covers an enormous number of buildings in New York City and other major northeastern and midwestern cities. Texas has tans and browns while Kansas has so much creamy limestone they cut it in long rectangles and used it for fenceposts, stringing barbed wire between the posts.

Marble is in the middle of the Mohs scale at about a five, depending on the type of marble. Marble is hard enough to hold a well carved line or detail, but soft enough that it can be worked, if not easily, then predictably. The most sought-after marble is Carrara marble from Italy. It is a fine grain hard marble that sparkles when polished properly. Marble can be found almost everywhere in the world. Colorado has Aspen Blue and Lincoln White, Greece has a wide variety of white and cream-colored marble, and the Middle East has some very exotic red and Travertine marble.

Beyond marble there are many exotic stones such as onyx and calcite. These are hard, colorful stones, but still can be carved. Onyx is formed in a completely different way than marble. It forms in pools of minerals and thus creates some spectacular coloration, ranging from beautiful yellows and greens of Baja Onyx to deep rich blues of Argentina Onyx.

If you are interested in a piece carved out of a specific stone, please contact us.


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