This luminous, fine-grained mineral has been prized since ancient times for its subtle coloration and translucent veining. Softer than marble, it’s exceptionally well suited for finely detailed carving.
Deep deposits of alabaster in the Tuscan hills helped to establish the mountaintop city of Volterra, Italy as an important center of alabaster production and artistry during the Etruscan and Roman eras. The city’s alabaster industry blossomed during the Renaissance and today, descendants of those artisans continue the tradition using similar techniques and tools.
An alabaster carver, or “alabastraio,” starts with a block or chunk of alabaster which can be sawed, turned on a lathe, or shaped with chisels. A final series of polishing steps produces the beautifully honed finish that is the signature of Italian alabaster.
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