Scagliola is a type of hard plaster composition that is made by mixing powdered gypsum or lime with pigments and small bits of marble, granite, or other stones. It is often used as an imitation of more expensive marbles and semiprecious stones in architecture and decorative arts.
The word scagliola comes from the Italian word scaglia, meaning chip or splinter, which refers to the small chips or splinters of stone that are included in the plaster mixture. These chips, along with the pigments, give scagliola its characteristic appearance when polished.
To create scagliola, the powdered gypsum or lime is mixed with water and pigments to form a paste. This paste is then combined with the stone chips, which provide the texture and visual interest to the material. The mixture is applied to a substrate, such as wood or stone, and carefully molded and shaped to create the desired decorative effect.
Once the scagliola has dried and hardened, it is polished to a high sheen, revealing the beauty of the stone chips and pigments. The polished surface can resemble expensive marbles like Carrara or Sienna, as well as simulate the appearance of semiprecious stones like malachite or jasper.
Scagliola has been used since ancient times, with examples of its use found in ancient Roman and Egyptian architecture. It experienced a revival during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, where it was often used in grand palaces and churches to create lavish interiors.
Today, scagliola continues to be used in architectural and decorative applications, particularly in restoration projects where historic materials need to be replicated. It is valued for its versatility, durability, and ability to imitate the appearance of various natural stones at a fraction of the cost.
Hard plaster composition containing bits of marble, granite, and other stones.