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What is alabaster and what is it used for?

What is alabaster and what is it used for?

Alabaster is a compact and weak, white mineral composed of calcium carbonate.

With a Mohs classification of 1.5, this mineral is considered very low in terms of its hardness. So much so, that it can be scratched by fingernails and can easily dissolved by water.

Its name of Greek origin means “a vessel without handles.” This is because in ancient times, the most frequent use of alabaster was to make perfume vessels without handles. In turn, throughout history, there is a wide variety of artistic works that have been made with this material. The most significant is the statue of the Egyptian Queen Tiye.

What types of alabaster exist?

·      Bonded Alabaster

The different varieties of this type of alabaster:

  • Limestone alabaster from Aracena: It is found in Andalusia. This material is hazy white, pure and fine, with features of aurora yellow.
  • White limestone
  • The yellowish white or Oriental alabaster: it is white with touches of red.
  • From Siena: almost transparent, it has a honey color.

·      Veined or flowery alabaster

This marble is also known as onyx marble of the ancients. It can be divided into several types:

  • From Malaga: waxy yellow
  • In Sicily we can find four different types: Saguna: it is dark brown with light streaks, Monreale: bright red streaks with different yellow bands, Caputo: yellow and white streaks, and finally, In Monte Pellegrino: yellow and dark black bands.
  • From Malta: we find light yellow colors with white or black, brown and white.
  • From Corsica: they are light or dark yellow.
  • From Paris: they are fawn with dirty white streaks.

·      stained Alabaster

  • It is found in the Languedoc region and is reddish brown with spots of various sizes.

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Where can alabaster be found in Spain and how is it extracted?

Zaragoza is the main extraction site of alabaster in the world. One of the main alabaster reserves can be found on the banks of the Ebro River. The town of Albalate del Arzobispo is where different quarries are located and the development of alabaster is promoted through the CIDA "Comprehensive Center for the Development of Alabaster”.

The extraction is generally done in the open, with systems that are not aggressive to protect the integrity of the material, both its homogeneity and integrity, as well as its crystallinity and natural grain.

The photograph shown below is an alabaster quarry.

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Rock&Tools participated in the ICRE stage event in Albalate del Arzobispo

In Spain, events are organized which enables participants to work with alabaster material. At Rock&Tools we had the pleasure of being able to collaborate in the Stage event organized in Albalate del Arzobispo (ICRE Stage) to work with alabaster with total creative freedom for four days. This event took place during Holy Week and was organized by the CIDA (Integral Center for the Development of Alabaster).

We also had the pleasure of having the company of great artists from the ICRE association in Barcelona together with the sculptor Jorge Egea, who oversaw the entire stay of the ICRE artists.

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Use of alabaster today

Currently, alabaster is generally used as a purely decorative stone. Being as it is so soft, it can be molded or carved into very elaborate and precise shapes. However, since it dissolves in water, it cannot be placed outside.

Being a translucent stone, alabaster also has been used in windows and in lampshades and other lighting products, generally combined with other materials.

The natural grain of the alabaster is what makes each piece “unique,” together with the craftsmanship and conceptual beauty, this material has become especially popular within interior design and garden decoration.

It is very important to note that any object containing alabaster is very delicate and must be treated carefully to prevent it from being damaged. That is why specialists recommend handling it only with gloves to avoid staining and scratching it and to clean with only a soft bristle brush.

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Alabaster curiosities

We end this article with a little fun fact: Did you know that alabaster was used in some medieval churches for windows? The most recent was the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Los Angeles, which was consecrated in 2002. The use of alabaster in windows prevents the panels from becoming opaque under the effect of heat.

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Is alabaster an element that you use professionally or as a hobby or are you just curious try it? Then do not hesitate to get in touch and the Rock & Tools team will advise you.

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Sculptures inspired by love

Sculptures inspired by love

Throughout history, the romantic sentiment has attracted the attention of many artists, so much so that some of them decided to express their vision of love in beautiful sculptures. And, today, romance continues to capture the imagination of artists and the public. For this reason, and with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we would like to show you some sculptures inspired by love.

“Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss”, by Antonio Canova

A sculpture inspired by the story of the Roman god of love, Cupid (Eros), and Psyche, a human turned goddess. It represents the moment when Eros brings Psyche round from her sleep through a kiss.

It is a work created to be seen from the front, although its details are not neglected.

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“The Kiss”, by Rodin

Rodin was originally inspired by Paolo and Francesca, two characters from Dante’s Divine Comedy, who were killed by Francesca’s husband. However, Rodin thought that the sculpture conveyed sensuality and happiness and decided to call it: The kiss.

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“Apollo and Daphne”, by Bernini

Sometimes love is unrequited, as in the case of Apollo and Daphne. Eros shot an arrow at Apollo that made him fall in love with Daphne, but he shot an arrow at her that made her want to be free from Apollo. She had no choice but to turn herself into a tree to escape from Apollo.

With this sculpture Bernini perfectly captures the exact moment when Apollo catches up with Daphne and she begins to turn herself into a tree.

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Tools for sculptors

Did you know the stories behind the sculptures? If you know any other sculptures, do not hesitate to share them with us. And if you are interested in expressing love in your next sculptures or constructions, at Rock&Tools we have extensive experience selling sculpting tools. If you have any questions, get in touch with us for advice.

You can also join our community! Follow us here, on our Art Space and on our social media.

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Interesting facts about granite you probably didn’t know

Interesting facts about granite you probably didn’t know

Granite, due to its special characteristics, is one of the rock types most used in architecture, decoration, construction, and of course, sculpture. This is because, on top of being extremely beautiful, its composition makes it very resistant to possible scratches and stains. Here are some interesting facts about granite we bet you didn’t know. Let’s get started!

  1. It’s the main component of the external and most solid layer of our planet, best known as the Earth’s crust.
  2. It’s one of the hardest and most resistant materials in the world. Only diamonds are harder.
  3. It delights so many sculptors and architects because the pattern and colour of each granite stone is unique. Every slab has different formations and compositions, allowing for thousands and thousands of variations.
  4. It’s a natural stone formed from volcanic magma. It’s precisely for this reason that it is so resistant, withstanding temperatures of around 100 º
  5. Though it is frequently found in nature in white, grey or yellow; blue and red and are the colours of granite that are the hardest to find in the world, which is why production in those colours is very limited.
  1. Granite was first used by the Egyptians for the construction of their unique temples and obelisks.
  2. Spain has the largest building made of granite in the world: the San Lorenzo Monastery of El Escorial in Madrid.
  3. The United States, specifically North Carolina, has the largest open-faced granite quarry in the world. It’s called Mount Airy.
  4. Granite is a renewable resource and is considered an ecological product since it doesn’t emit harmful gases and doesn’t contain chemical products. Also, its extraction and production processes are becoming more and more sustainable.

Tools for sculpting stone

Did you already know all this about granite? If you know anything else, don’t hesitate to share it with us. And if you are interested in using it for your sculptures or constructions, at Rock&Tools we have extensive experience selling tools for working with stone. If you have any questions, get in touch with us for advice. Join our community! Follow us here, on our Art Space and on our social media.

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Rock&Tools collaborates in Okambuva’s practical workshop on stone construction

Rock&Tools collaborates in Okambuva’s practical workshop on stone construction

On the 17th of December, Okambuva launched their practical stone-construction workshop. This free workshop, offering 15 credits for students of the Bioconstruction Project Management Master’s course (also offered by Okambuva) was a sell-out event, demonstrating the huge interest in this construction technique.

Okambuva is cooperative that works in bioconstruction and construction with natural materials, offering advice, management and implementation services for bioconstruction projects. What’s more, it also provides professional and university training programmes for self-builders.

This training course was led by Nadir Sirera Oriol, an architect and builder specialised in bioclimatic architecture and bioconstruction. Today, Sirera has been working for many years in the restoration and recovery of vernacular architecture.

This workshop, which took place on the weekend of the 17th to the 19th of December, offered greater insight into the essential aspects of dry-stone construction, such as:

  • Pre-positioning of reference elements.
  • Prior preparation of stone pieces for their placement in the construction.
  • Face work and creation of corner and arch pieces.
  • Properties and techniques for laying masonry with clay-earth mortar.
  • Design and development of cyclopean foundations, arches and corners.
  • Importance of the type of cement used according to application.
  • Drying and cleaning times.
  • Practice of different stone-placement systems.
  • Handling large pieces with levers and other means.
  • Splitting stones with drills and expanding wedges.

We at Rock&Tools were delighted to take part in this type of training course, offering resources and tools for dry-stone construction to help these new professionals continue in their learning.

Tools for sculpting stone

At Rock&Tools, we have extensive experience in the sale of tools for working with stone, so if you have any questions, we’ll be delighted to help. If you have any questions, get in touch with us for advice. Join our community! You can follow us here, on ourArt Space and on our social media.

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Rock & Tools collaborates in the 13th Sculpture Symposium

Rock & Tools collaborates in the 13th Sculpture Symposium

Every two years, the International Sculpture Symposium is held in Albalate del Arzobispo, and last November the 13th edition took place. Rock & Tools is very happy to collaborate in this kind of event, providing resources and tools for artists to create their incredible sculptures.

This event has become the international framework where nine selected artists work for two weeks to create a sculpture using the star material of the municipality: alabaster. Nine artists from all over the world participated in the event: Yunmi Lee from South Korea, Lara Steffe and Francesco Paglialunga from Italy, Tanya Preminger from Israel, Yannick Robert from France and Mariano Pastor, Jesús Zafra, Borja Barrajón and Noemí Palacios from Spain.

All participants had to send the project they were going to create during the symposium, together with a dossier of their work and professional experience, so that the committee, who made the final selection, could learn about their style and how they work. The theme of the creation was free, but the aim was for each sculptor to enhance the qualities of the alabaster stone, as the goal is to promote this material through art.

One of the major attractions of this event is that, during the two weeks, everyone had the opportunity to visit the Integral Centre for Alabaster Development and see each artist creating their piece in person.

The organisers are very pleased because "it is clear that this symposium has become more and more prestigious in the world of sculpture. In fact, every year proposals come in from higher calibre artists". This is great news!

Tools for sculpting stone

At Rock&Tools, we have extensive experience in the sale of tools for working with stone, so if you have any questions, we’ll be delighted to help. On our site, you’ll find a comprehensive catalogue of all the best tools for sculpting stone. In fact, our blog offers a host of information if you want to get started in this craft. If you have any questions, get in touch with us for advice. Join our community! Follow us here, on our Art Space and on our social media.

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Interesting facts you might not know about Stonehenge

Interesting facts you might not know about Stonehenge

Today, the mystery of Stonehenge continues to fascinate many thousands of people across the world. No one knows exactly how this archaeological artefact came to England, nor what its original use was, yet it is one of the most visited sites, located just north of Salisbury, and one of the greatest tourist attractions in the United Kingdom. Want to learn some interesting facts about Stonehenge?

Its construction lasted centuries

Although it has been exhaustively studied, it is not yet known exactly when constructed started, although what we do know is that it appears to have been built in several phases. It is believed that the first phase began in the Middle Neolithic period (more than 5000 years ago) and that work was carried out intermittently until around 1600 BC, when its construction began again in more depth – which is when the distribution of some rocks was changed, giving way to its current form.

It is made up of almost 100 stones

It is composed of just under a hundred rocks of different sizes, organised in circles. In the inner circle, the rocks have an average size of 4 tonnes, while the outer circle is composed of rocks weighing between 25-30 tonnes.

Its purpose is not known

Although many geologists and historians have tried to work out the purpose of Stonehenge, what’s for sure is that no one has ever come up with a 100%-certain explanation. Some say that it was an astronomical calendar, while others believe it had a religious purpose for the celebration of ceremonies and burials, and there are even some who say it had a medicinal purpose.

It belongs to the British Crown

For a long time, Stonehenge belonged to the Antrobus family, but in 1915, as the last representative of the family line died without an heir, the land was put up for sale in a public auction. It was purchased by Cecil Chubb, but, after three years, he gifted it to the British Crown on the condition that it was preserved and kept open to the public.

A souvenir

This little fact might surprise you: until 1920, visitors were allowed to take home fragments of the rocks, and until 1977, visitors could touch and even climb on the stones. Wow! Today, this is all prohibited as a result of the increasing erosion suffered by the monument.

Tools for sculpting stone

Did you already know these interesting facts about Stonehenge? If you’re interested in sculpture, our blog offers a host of information to help you get started in this world. If you have any questions, get in touch with us for advice. Join our community! Follow us here, on our Art Space and on our social media Art Space and on our social media.

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The advantages and disadvantages of pneumatic tools for stone

The advantages and disadvantages of pneumatic tools for stone

Pneumatic tools are those that make use of an air compressor for their operation. Among our wide range of tools for sculpting stone, you’ll find both manual and pneumatic tools. We’ve noted that, at times, our customers can have certain questions about the differences between these, and that’s why, today, we’re going to let you know all about the advantages and disadvantages of pneumatic tools.

Firstly, and in general, pneumatic tools are larger than manual tools. Pneumatic tools are very lightweight and manageable, but – of course – given the simplicity of manual tools, these are even lighter.

On the other hand, and as you might expect, pneumatic tools are more powerful than their manual counterparts. Of course, power is one of the most important aspects to consider when deciding which tool to buy, as well as the cut or shape, size, and quality. Likewise, pneumatic tools are ideal for very repetitive work. If you use a manual tool, you’ll need to exercise pressure by hammering with another tool to sculpt the stone. However, this is not the case with pneumatic tools, which make the work much easier – especially when dealing with large areas for which you want to work quickly and easily.

However, and logically, pneumatic tools are more expensive than manual tools. As a result, pneumatic tools are recommended for professionals and all those who expect to be able to recoup their investment. For beginners, it’s better to get started with manual tools while you learn how to sculpt stone and, over time, you may wish to invest in pneumatic tools.

Tools for sculpting stone

Have you found this post useful? At Rock&Tools we have extensive experience in the sale of tools for working with stone, so if you have any questions, we’ll be delighted to help.  On our site, you’ll find a comprehensive catalogue of all the best tools for sculpting stone. In fact, our blog offers a host of information if you want to get started in this world. If you have any questions, get in touch with us for advice. Join our community! You can follow us here, on our Art Space and on our social media.

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The characteristics of Baroque sculpture

The characteristics of Baroque sculpture

The Baroque period was a cultural and artistic era that took place during the 17th century and the start of the 18th century, developed across Europe and the American colonies. This artistic style developed in a time filled with great political and religious tensions between catholic and protestant countries, ultimately becoming a form of propagandistic art for both sides. Want to discover its main characteristics?

  1. Baroque sculpture has an expressive, ornamental, and dynamic personality and was mainly used to decorate religious buildings, palaces, and some public spaces.

  2. These were hugely important as ornaments in the architectural spaces of the time, particularly in fountains – both indoor and outdoor.

  3. While bronze and marble were used as materials, Baroque art was characterised by polychrome wood and stone in outdoor sculptures.

  4. These statues were inspired by everyday life and the religious imaginary; however, these were also monumental works – excessively elaborate and lavishly ornate.

  5. Through theatricality, these artists sought to demonstrate the power of the elite, the aristocracy, the clergy, and the monarchy.

  1. These sculptures realistically reflected the physical features and movements of the human body. They did not seek to idealise, only to offer intensity, vitality, and movement to complex sculptures, in which the characters represented are interlinked.

  2. The sculptors avoided symmetry, multiplying the folds of clothes to give a feeling of greater realism and, what’s more, used counterpoint techniques to achieve contrasts of light that enhanced the emotional weight of the sculptures, creating a greater sensation of movement in the figures represented.

Tools for dry stone

At Rock&Tools we have extensive experience in the sale of tools for working with stone. On our website, you’ll find a comprehensive range of all the best tools for sculpting stone, with a huge amount of fascinating information about this technique available on our blog. Need more information about tools? Contact us for advice. Join our community! You can follow us here, on our Art Space and on our social media.

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Dry-stone walling in the Valencian Community

Dry-stone walling in the Valencian Community

The art of dry-stone walling – or the art of stone construction without the use of any binding mortar – as you know, has been included in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage for a few years now. Would you like to find out where you can see these constructions in the Valencian Community?

Today, a few of these constructions can still be seen in the Valencian Community – in various states of conservation. In the province of Valencia itself, there are two routes on which you’ll be able to spot a few of these constructions.

One of these can be found in Yátova – this route is very accessible for all ages and abilities, and runs along the SL-CV 165 footpath for about nine kilometres. On this path, you’ll see constructions previously used for woodland activities. The other can be found in Enguera, one of the town’s in which we can see the most constructions in this style. Known as the Cucos de la Sierra de Enguera, these are characteristic elements of the agricultural landscape. To reach the latter, a 15-km route is available – setting off from Adene.

However, when it comes to provinces, Castellón stands out above the other two. The northern regions in particular offer up some great examples of this type of architecture. For example, in Vilafranca you’ll find a museum and a selection of routes dedicated to dry-stone walling. However, there are plenty of other municipalities in Castellón featuring dry-stone constructions – like Vinaroz, Tirig, Catí or Albocàsser, among others.

Tools for dry stone

 

At Rock&Tools we sell various tools for working with stone and for dry-stone construction techniques. On our website, you’ll find a comprehensive range of all the best tools for sculpting stone, with a huge amount of interesting information about this technique available on our blog. Need more information about tools? Contact us for advice. Join our community! You can follow us here, on ourArt Space and on our social media.

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Sculptures to visit in Europe

Sculptures to visit in Europe

Already thinking about your next holiday? Will you be staying close to home or are you lucky enough to be heading off to visit somewhere abroad? If you fall into the second group, you might want to take advantage of the opportunity to admire a few of the most curious works. Today, we’re going to show you a few of the most important sculptures you can visit in Europe simply by strolling the streets and without the need to visit a single museum or exhibition. Take note!

Man Hanging Out (Prague, Czech Republic)

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and – what’s more – while you’re there, you can admire a truly curious sculpture entitled ‘Man Hanging Out’. This piece is a work by the sculptor David Cerný. In it, we see Doctor Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, carved in metal and hanging from a beam with a single arm. The sculpture is so impressive that some have even confused it with a real person. With it, Cerný asks what role intellectuals will play in the future. What do you think?

Čumil (Bratislava, Slovakia)

 Although it’s true that you can find many bronze statues throughout the city of Bratislava, one particularly well-known example is Čumil. Čumil means watchman or observer, and the sculpture features a worker emerging from one of the city’s sewers. If you visit Bratislava, as well as looking for this sculpture, you should also keep an eye out for the many others dotted around the city. See how many you can spot!

 

The Crocodile (Freiburg, Germany)

In the city of Freiburg, and more specifically in the Gewerbekanal canal, you might just see the head of a crocodile peeking out. The sculpture has been around since 2002 and has become so popular that it can even be seen on the city’s postcards. If you want to catch a glimpse of this piece, you’ll find it near the Augustinerplatz square – it’s truly a must if you’re setting off on a road trip around Germany.

The most famous European sculptures

With this article, we wanted to take a look at some of the most curious sculptures in Europe, which you can admire as you explore its streets, without the need to visit a museum – totally free of charge. If you have any suggestions that you would have liked to have seen in this list, let us know!

And, finally, if we’ve piqued your interest for sculpture and you want to start carving your own, you’ll find all the tools you need to sculpt stone here. Has this article inspired you? If so, you can join our community! You can follow us here, in our Art Space and on social media.

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