Apr 7, 2008

Rapid Rhetoric: SCAGLIOLA

Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

scagliola (skahl-YOH-lah) n. marble-like plasterwork for interior decoration, especially columns and sculptures.

The word scagliola is a direct import from the Italian language, and translates roughly as "chips." This form of imitation marble is typically composed of alabaster or gypsum plus an adhesive, with colored stone dust or chips then set into the surface for effect.

The scagliola process is similar to the more common technique known as terrazzo. While scagliolists have likely practiced their craft for a thousand years or more, the word did not appear in European texts until some point in the sixteenth century. Scagliola was a popular feature in buildings that adopted elements of Italian Baroque, and modern scagliola reputedly owes its origins to impoverished Italian monks seeking an ersatz decorative technique for monasteries.

This art form is certainly much more creative than modern technological specialists, who are more concerned with such items as bulk cable than aesthetics.

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