Alabaster is a mineral that was formed in the territory of Volterra about 6-7 million years ago.
Alabaster is a calcium sulphate dehydrate with the chemical formula CaSO4 2H2O.
It occurs in nature in compact, ovoid-shaped blocks called reniform concretions or ovules, extracted in open-air quarries or tunnels.
Each quarry produces alabaster that differs in terms of appearance and consistency due the different chemical composition of the soil.
Therefore, varieties with less inclusions are white and more or less transparent, whereas inclusions of clay and metal oxides produce veined grey alabaster (bardiglio).
Other shades such as amber, yellow and red result from metal oxides and hydroxides, especially iron.
Alabaster craftsmanship is certainly one of the oldest artisan skills that still exists at present.
The bond between the material and the community is deeply rooted in the very origin of the town. As in other cases the Etruscans, who preferred to settle where the land and materials where suitable for their necropolises, chose a place rich in alabaster deposits.
The creativity and dexterity of Volterra craftspeople make alabaster craftsmanship unique in its kind.
The products are the result of a processing cycle that often requires the intervention of several craftspeople before being placed on the market.
The PROTAGONISTS of the production process are:
- The squarers, who make square objects
- The turners, who make round, circular or spherical objects
- The ornamenters, specialised in decorations
- The sculptors, who create sculptures from a block of alabaster, either freehand or using plaster casts for correct sizing
All processing steps are carried out by our master craftspeople in full compliance with the techniques handed down by tradition.
Alabaster is a material that is as noble as it is delicate. It is therefore important to handle it with care and treat it with natural products.