Alabaster stone is a calcium rich calcite. Due to its distinctive colouring – creamy with light golden-ish brown striata – and being so soft it can easily be carved with a knife, it is the material of choice for either highly ornate/carved or very simple tombstones.
* Used to make carved staircases and fireplaces, most of today’s alabaster comes from near Florence, the home of Carrera marble, Michelangelo’s favourite stone.
* In the early to mid 20thC, alabaster was carved into fine lampshades, giving soft warm light. Thrown porcelain lamps give a similar soft, diffused light.
* Alabaster as a gypsum-based finish can be polished to look like a soft marble, or as tadelakt. As it scratches quite easily it is often mixed with white, much more resilient, marble dust.
*Alabaster also refers to a milky, off-white, translucent and delicate looking colour–as in alabaster skin.