Friday, June 11, 2010

Scagliola and Pietre Dure...


Walter Cipriani photo
Scagliola is a technique that imitates semi precious inlay of marbles and minerals through the use of pigmented plasters.

Walter Cipriani photo

This process is best known through the Medici family in Florence, Italy in the 17th century.

Walter Cipriani photo

Contemporary Italian artist Walter Cipriani is keeping the process alive! Here, he shows the act of creating the colors and designs for a scagliola piece.


Walter Cipriani photo

A base form is made in the shape desired and then a design is drawn on the surface and the carving of the inlay is begun.
Walter Cipriani photo

Colored plasters are placed in the carved designs and then polished many times to achieve the look of marble.
Walter Cipriani photo
Finished designs were usually very elaborate using scrolls , foliage and ornamentation .

Florence, Italy

Last year, I visited the Pietre Dure museum in Florence, Italy to study it's decorative technique.


Pietre dure is what scagliola imitates. Pietre dure uses real minerals and stones to produce elaborate designs and ornamentation.



Firenze is still synonymous with the production of both scagliola and pietre dure.



These paintings are produced entirely from inlay work of precious stones.

The illusion is amazing....shading and depth are achieved strictly through the use of minerals.


There are four main rooms of pietre dure designs on table tops, wall panels and other objects in the museum.


This is one of the first areas as you enter the museum.



One way to tell the difference in scagliola and pietre dure is by touch...the inlaid stone of pietre dure will be cold to the touch and scagliola will be warm since it originates from plasters.


You can purchase scagliola pieces from artists in Florence... although these labor intensive pieces are not cheap, they are investments in a centuries old art technique that was good enough for the Medicis!

34 comments:

Gina said...

Dear Theresa, An absolutely stunninhg post. Your research, into each and everyone of your posts, is remarkable. And, it is so appreciated.

I remember walking into a church in Germany and being overwhelmed by 40 foot "marble" columns. They were hand made with a similar technique called "Spachteltechnik".

Theresa Cheek said...

"Spachteltechnik",.....Oooohhhh Gina, you've given me a new word to google!!!!

Jennifer Carrasco said...

Theresa, this is so interesting and informative....I've always admired the look of scagliola and wondered how it was made. The photographs, especially of Walter kneading a big roll of his material (how does he keep this plaster from drying out as he works...or is it plaster?) are luscious.

Theresa Cheek said...

Jennifer,
I know only the basics of the process....The concoction of glues, plaster and pigment look like they can stay out in the air for a little while, I would think you would have to put them in plastic bags soon after. It has always looked like it has the consistency of wood putty. Tania Seabock could tell you the details.

MyFavoriteFrenchAntiques said...

I am always excited when you have a new post...always a combination of beauty and education.
An interesting mention...to feel the coolness or warmth.

Bubble-Babble said...

Wow, I love this - what fantastic amazing beautiful work!!

Alan said...

Wow. What a great post, and a fascinating topic.

Thanks

Fauxology said...

I agree with Jennifer - the kneading pic took my breath away. There is such joy in these creations! Thank you for the step by step, the art forms are both so fascinating.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

They're really breathtaking. I do hope I get to Italy one of these days to see these fine works.

If you have a moment, Theresa could you tell me how you went about doing a slideshow on your sidebar? I've been having trouble figuring it out. Do I need to download Picasa 3 to do it? No need for all the details...I will try to work it out...but if you could lead me in the right direction I would appreciate it.

Best,
Catherine

Kelle Dame said...

Wow! How interesting! I learn something new every time I stop by! All the little details are just amazing!

Ann said...

Walter's creations are so beautiful. I bet Walter and Carolina's studio would be quite an inspiration to visit.

Lovely post, Theresa!

Theresa Cheek said...

Thank you Nance,,,,,I always look forward to your posts as well ;)

Theresa Cheek said...

Gen- thanks for stopping by!

Kelle-so glad you enjoy this!

Theresa Cheek said...

Alan-coming from you, I am flattered,,,,your blog is simply one of the best out there.

Regina-Walter is amazing, isn't he? Thanks for taking time to stop by!!

Theresa Cheek said...

Ann- I can only imagine how incredible their studio must be...sigh !!

Theresa Cheek said...

Catherine,
The slide show you see is something through blogger....go to the design page and click on add a gadget...there are lots to choose from...if you want to add your own personal slideshow...that is a different matter! I can't help you there, I am on a Mac computer.

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Theresa. Yes, I figured it would be more of a challenge to do my own. Back to the drawing board. Have a great weekend!
Catherine

Marie Vanesse said...

Waw !! Merveilleux post theresa !!
I would love to see the process "in real" (only know the theory of the steps). Thanks for this beautiful story !!!

Gina said...

Dear Theresa, Here is another technique to google "Stuckmarmor" . I have an excellent German book on the subject and will post pictures and instructions in a day or so.

French-Kissed said...

My goodness...you never cease to amaze me! With these posts I start out fascinated by the fact that the photos look original like you were actually there...and the lo and behold it is revealed that you have traveled afar and taken another course in some esoteric and amazing art form. Is there anything you won't tackle. I want to kidnap you and bring you to Santa Barbara and put you to work transforming my house!

~jermaine~

My Castle in Spain said...

Theresa, seriously you're a gem ! this is an amazing technique. In the process i especially like the mixing..it looks so appetizing!
Have a wonderful creative sunday !

ps: thank you for your comment on the notebooks! :-)

Patrick Gracewood said...

Theresa, Wish I had this post to consult when we were making faux stone! Our version used a very dense architectural plaster and an acrylic polymer called Forton. They were combined with dry pigments and various micas and different grades of ground stone.

You can only mix small batches by hand, with all the dry additives working it is like a very short dough, very crumbly. You go like a bat out of hell packing it into whatever the mold was. The trick was to always leave an irregular working edge with it kicked off and was too dry to work. The next "loaf" would be packed tightly along the irregular edge and become invisible. When sealed, the faux stone was very believable, lots of depth and variance.

Theresa Cheek said...

Patarick,
I always value first hand experience! There are so many ways to approach the concept of faux stone with plasters. So, you didn't add any glues to the mix for a binder? Just asking.... can't wait to come to you studio and "talk shop". See you next month!

Cashon&Co said...

i've NEVER seen the process of how it's done. wow. this was so cool. you always show the neatest things, historical and artistic crafts that I really enjoy knowing the story behind .... thanks!!!!

Privet and Holly said...

This is just so fascinating.
What a beautiful craft,
and how wonderful that you not
only studied it IN FLORENCE,
but you are sharing it here,
with us! xx Suzanne

Theresa Cheek said...

Jermaine and Suzanne.....I just did some background research, did not take a class on the process..I am working towards that though!!!

stencil helen said...

I was looking forward to checking in with you today and your post is another stunner. Brilliant, you go to so much effoert for us.
I went visting on your side bar too. Gosh, your friends have wonderful blogs. Sigh, I must get back to work.

Theresa Cheek said...

Helen,
Only another blogger knows the effort to keeping a blog going!! Thanks! See you in July at IDAL!!!!'

Patrick Gracewood said...

Theresa,
I'm off for ten days to so Cal. Hope to see both Getty museums.

the Forton liquid is an acrylic that is both water and glue, there's some dry melamine that acts as a hardener. When this faux stone is set, it's literally rock hard... sigh but not impervious to water- cause it's still plaster. They say it is but really it's only as permanent and protected as the sealer coat.
info:http://www.ball-consulting-ltd.com/markets/fortonmg/
or
http://www.artmolds.com/gateway/technique/forton_1.htm

Merisi said...

It is so good to know that arts and crafts are still alive in Italy! Thank you for this beautiful testimonial.

Steve Shriver said...

Hi Theresa-
I just put "Stuckmarmor" in Flickr.com and came up with a nice bunch of photos. I also ran across a really nice scagliola pedestal at the Getty yesterday- picture at art+works.

Theresa Cheek said...

Steve....yeah....LOT"S of good visuals for stuckmarmor!!! I love all the sharing of knowledge we have! ;)

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this entry today. It is nice to know someone else out there appreciates pietre dure and scagliola as much as I do! I just finished my master's degree in art history and I wrote my thesis on pietre dure which had a whole chapter on scagliola! I found a shocking lack of published work on pietre dure/scagliola which is a shame because it is truly a magnificent art form and I'm glad someone else can see that too.

Theresa Cheek said...

Anon- so glad you found me! I would love to talk more about Scagliola and Pietre Dure..email me!

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