The Sourcebook of Decorative Stone: An Illustrated Identification Guide

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An authoritative reference to 300 types of ancient and modern ornamental stone.

For professional decorators, architects, landscape designers and masonry contractors, this is a comprehensive guide to the identification of decorative stone used in exterior and interior construction, architectural adornment, in-lays and artifacts. For art historians, curators, conservators, archaeologists, surveyors, engineers, jewelers and sculptors, this book ...

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Overview

An authoritative reference to 300 types of ancient and modern ornamental stone.

For professional decorators, architects, landscape designers and masonry contractors, this is a comprehensive guide to the identification of decorative stone used in exterior and interior construction, architectural adornment, in-lays and artifacts. For art historians, curators, conservators, archaeologists, surveyors, engineers, jewelers and sculptors, this book will be an excellent reference.

Organized by geological type, the book provides comprehensive coverage of 300 types of decorative stone, from the most common to the exquisitely rare. Large, sharp, color photographs accompany descriptions of where the stones are quarried, how they are related and how they differ in structure and appearance. There is information on:

  • Appearance
  • Provenance and availability
  • Grain
  • Geological description
  • Structural features
  • Hardness and durability
  • Size and price
  • Major uses.

Practical uses are discussed, and historical and cultural details add context. For example, bowenite, often called "new jade," is the state mineral of Rhode Island, where it is actively quarried.

Full color illustrations, thorough descriptions and practical information combine to make The Sourcebook of Decorative Stone the definitive reference on this topic.

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Editorial Reviews

Phoenix Home & Garden - Rochelle Belsito
Allows readers to explore more than 300 varieties of this natural material. Geologist Monica Price wrote the comprehensive book, which features an in-depth history of many types of stone.
Booklist - Barbara Jacobs
[starred review] In calling this a sourcebook for decorative stone, the author ... is being too modest. [Monica] Price's contribution to this very ancient practice is priceless, a true treasure reference for architects, designers, artists, and any layperson who appreciates the multitude of looks possible with quarried stone.
Arlington Heights Daily Herald - Deborah Donovan
The stories about the histories and uses of each treasure — well-known or rare .... make the book enjoyable.
Choice - E.A. Scarletto
An excellent reference guide ... Most valuable to those already versed in the geological properties or "families" of the stones. The illustrations are glossy, full color, and of very high resolution. As a sourcebook for architects or commercial geologists, this work is a good reference tool. Summing Up: Recommended. Professionals/practitioners, upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and general readers.
Architectural West
Sweeping, authoritative ... a valuable resource book.
Kitchen and Bath Design News
Comprehensive... Price brings a particular vigor to the topic, and the stones she presents are made richer by her inclusion of copious contextual information.
Stone World
[A] sweeping, authoritative reference.
American Reference Books Annual 2008 - R. K. Dickson
Part geological primer and part lush picture book.. The photographs are well reproduced, the design efficient and clean, and the cloth binding solid enough to withstand serious use... This book is a good reference volume as well as an interesting and attractive entertainment.
Eco-Structure (Chicago)
This book presents in-depth information about more than 300 natural stones... Color photographs throughout the book further understanding.
Rocks & Minerals Journal - Daniel Hall
Monica T. Price has done the Earth science collector community a wonderful service.... The table of contents, with its small picture of each stone, and the very complete index make this a handy book for identification and reference.... [Price] helps the reader navigate through the morass of stone names used in antiquity and those in current trade listings... The scientific geological description given with each stone is very useful... In summary, this book is current with results of the latest research...and it is organized to be useful to the Earth science amateur and professional alike.... I highly recommend the book for Earth scientists, architects, marble and granite dealers, antique and building restorers, and archaeologists. Also, anyone with a passing interest in the use of decorative stone will find it a very readable and appropriate identification guide.
Mineralog - Robert Crabill
Other art books will give you more large photos of stone-embellished cathedrals and palaces, but no book I know of will teach you more about how these cultural treasures came to be: the raw materials, their sources and working techniques, history and lore, and how building and decorating with stone flourished and waned, but now enjoys a bit of a rebirth, via the use of polished stone slabs in home kitchens and bathrooms. Perhaps now as societies go green and examine the carbon footprint of all our building materials, the time is right for a return to building with beautiful stone, inside and out! If so, this is the guidebook we need.
School Library Journal

This volume is designed as a guide to 300 various kinds of ornamental stone used in public and private buildings as well as in various articles of furniture and the decorative arts. Geologist and science historian Price starts with an introduction about the history of decorative stones, minerals, igneous rocks, and metamorphic rocks, among other classifications. This is followed by chapters on the various stone groups, e.g., alabasters and travertines, various types of marble and limestone, volcanic rocks, quartz, and opal. Each stone description is accompanied by a detailed, beautifully reproduced photograph, a geological description, the major use of each stone type, a few paragraphs about where the stone was used in famous buildings, and the main characteristics of each stone. This extremely well-researched volume displays a wealth of knowledge on every aspect one could hope to know about each type of stone. A useful research tool and, therefore, a worthy library purchase.
—Martin Chasin

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554072545
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/17/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Monica Price is a geologist and science historian on the curatorial staff of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. She has contributed to reference works and journals, and recently co-authored Pocket Nature: Rocks and Minerals.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

All about decorative stones

  • Inspirational stone
  • A very ancient history
  • Taking a global view
  • A jungle of names
  • Out of the ground
  • The evolving Earth
  • Minerals — the basic building blocks
  • Ignenous rocks
  • Sedimentary rocks
  • Fossils
  • Metamorphic rocks
  • What makes a good decorative stone?
  • Checklist for identifying decorative stones
The Stones Alabasters and travertines
  • 19 entries
White marbles
  • 10 entries
Grey and black marbles and limestones
  • 22 entries
Yellow and brown marbles and limestones
  • 18 entries
Pink marbles and limestones
  • 22 entries
Red and violet marbles and limestones
  • 16 entries
Multicolored marbles and limestones
  • 21 entries
Lumachellas and other fossiliferous limestones
  • 31 entries
Green marbles, "ophicalcites" and serpentinites
  • 19 entries
Other metamorphic rocks
  • 16 entries
"Porphyries" and volcanic rocks
  • 13 entries
Granities and other plutonic rocks
  • 31 entries
Quartz and opal
  • 21 entries
Other decorative minerals
  • 24 entries

Finding out more
Index
Acknowledgments

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Preface

Introduction

There are thousands of different decorative stones, and they are used in every country of the world. Look around and you'll see them adding color to the fronts of stores. They form the practical, hardwearing cladding to many architectural interiors and exteriors of company offices and public buildings. Enter a church, synagogue or mosque and you will see them, often in beautiful patterns, cladding walls and floors, lecterns and altars. Memorials are carved into them, graves are marked with them, and they make superb raw material for sculptors to carve. Beautiful, natural rocks have a functional place inside our homes too, forming practical surfaces for kitchens and bathrooms, or made into the vases, tealight holders and other ornaments so popular with contemporary interior designers. Of course decorative minerals are widely used in jewelry too. Stone has a timeless quality, and some of the most exquisite ornamental stones are found in the decoration of precious antique furniture. The tradition of using polished stone for decoration is shared among civilizations all over the world, going well back into antiquity.

Turning Rock into a Thing of Beauty

It has to be admitted that most natural rocks are not particularly attractive to look at. Even the stones in this book, when roughly hewn from the ground, are generally rather dull. It is when they are polished, buffed to a bright reflective luster, that colors are enriched and patterns and structures sharpened, and their inherent natural beauty s revealed. Not all rocks have decorative value. They must have a compact and cohesive structure that enables them to be sawn or shaped without splitting or breaking up, and they must have an attractive appearance. They also need to occur in nature in sufficient quantities. Some semiprecious minerals are so valuable that quite small deposits are commercially viable. For
"dimension stone"— that is slabbed and polished for architectural use — much larger quantities of stone must be available. A huge global quarrying and processing industry supplies the polished stone we see all around us.

Detective work

Decorative rocks can reveal evidence of ancient life forms, and great global processes — from earthquakes to the formation of great mountain chains. When identifying stones, it helps to understand a little about the geological processes that formed them and gave them their various characteristics. Traditionally, marble is defined as any rock composed of calcite or dolomite (two common carbonate minerals) that takes a good polish. The stone trade still uses this definition, comparing marbles to limestones that have similar compositions but do not take a polish. Modern geologists are much more specific: they classify limestones as sedimentary rocks, and marbles as limestones which have been
"metamorphosed" that is, altered — by heat and pressure. In a similar way, the trade uses the term granite to encompass a wide variety of rock types composed of silica or silicate minerals (but not as specifically as geologists in their definition). This "jungle of names" is explained more fully in the opening "All about decorative stones" section of this book, as are the "earth-shattering" processes by which rocks form, and the broad range of different rock types and how they are classified by the trade and by geologists.

This sourcebook describes and illustrates close to 300 decorative rocks and minerals, and introduces many others. This may be just a tiny proportion of the many different kinds used globally, but it includes those that are particularly popular or of special historic interest. The photographs show the stones in actual size, as they appear when polished. Each entry gives a short summary of the stone's source,
history and use, and a brief geological description to help with identification. It will be an invaluable reference for archaeologist, architects, artists, antique restorers, auction houses, museum curators, the stone trade and geologists, and indeed for anyone who delights in the beautiful natural stones that are used to decorate the word around us.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction

There are thousands of different decorative stones, and they are used in every country of the world. Look around and you'll see them adding color to the fronts of stores. They form the practical, hardwearing cladding to many architectural interiors and exteriors of company offices and public buildings. Enter a church, synagogue or mosque and you will see them, often in beautiful patterns, cladding walls and floors, lecterns and altars. Memorials are carved into them, graves are marked with them, and they make superb raw material for sculptors to carve. Beautiful, natural rocks have a functional place inside our homes too, forming practical surfaces for kitchens and bathrooms, or made into the vases, tealight holders and other ornaments so popular with contemporary interior designers. Of course decorative minerals are widely used in jewelry too. Stone has a timeless quality, and some of the most exquisite ornamental stones are found in the decoration of precious antique furniture. The tradition of using polished stone for decoration is shared among civilizations all over the world, going well back into antiquity.

Turning Rock into a Thing of Beauty

It has to be admitted that most natural rocks are not particularly attractive to look at. Even the stones in this book, when roughly hewn from the ground, are generally rather dull. It is when they are polished, buffed to a bright reflective luster, that colors are enriched and patterns and structures sharpened, and their inherent natural beauty s revealed. Not all rocks have decorative value. They must have a compact and cohesive structure that enables them to be sawn or shaped without splitting orbreaking up, and they must have an attractive appearance. They also need to occur in nature in sufficient quantities. Some semiprecious minerals are so valuable that quite small deposits are commercially viable. For "dimension stone"-- that is slabbed and polished for architectural use -- much larger quantities of stone must be available. A huge global quarrying and processing industry supplies the polished stone we see all around us.

Detective work

Decorative rocks can reveal evidence of ancient life forms, and great global processes -- from earthquakes to the formation of great mountain chains. When identifying stones, it helps to understand a little about the geological processes that formed them and gave them their various characteristics. Traditionally, marble is defined as any rock composed of calcite or dolomite (two common carbonate minerals) that takes a good polish. The stone trade still uses this definition, comparing marbles to limestones that have similar compositions but do not take a polish. Modern geologists are much more specific: they classify limestones as sedimentary rocks, and marbles as limestones which have been "metamorphosed" that is, altered -- by heat and pressure. In a similar way, the trade uses the term granite to encompass a wide variety of rock types composed of silica or silicate minerals (but not as specifically as geologists in their definition). This "jungle of names" is explained more fully in the opening "All about decorative stones" section of this book, as are the "earth-shattering" processes by which rocks form, and the broad range of different rock types and how they are classified by the trade and by geologists.

This sourcebook describes and illustrates close to 300 decorative rocks and minerals, and introduces many others. This may be just a tiny proportion of the many different kinds used globally, but it includes those that are particularly popular or of special historic interest. The photographs show the stones in actual size, as they appear when polished. Each entry gives a short summary of the stone's source, history and use, and a brief geological description to help with identification. It will be an invaluable reference for archaeologist, architects, artists, antique restorers, auction houses, museum curators, the stone trade and geologists, and indeed for anyone who delights in the beautiful natural stones that are used to decorate the word around us.

Read More Show Less

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