Soft Stones That Can Be Turned to Make Vases

Written by jennifer hayes
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
Soft Stones That Can Be Turned to Make Vases
An example of a carved soft stone vase. (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Lathe turning, a process mostly associated with woodcarving, is also a manufacturing technique used in stone carving to make bowls, cups and vases. Performed by pressing metal tools against a turning block of stone, lathe turning typically requires soft stones. Measured by the Mohs scale, which rates stone hardness from 1 to 10, soft stones used most frequently to make vases rate from 1 to 4, and include soapstone, alabaster, onyx and limestone.

Other People Are Reading

Soapstone

The most common and softest type of stone used for turned vases is soapstone, technically called steatite. Composed mainly of mineral talc, soapstone has a Mohs hardness rating of 1 and is characteristically easy to carve. Mined all over the world, soapstone is available in a variety of colours, including white, brown, grey-green, red and black. Archaeological evidence of soapstone dates back thousands of years in the art of the Near East and Egypt.

Soft Stones That Can Be Turned to Make Vases
Also used for carving figurines, soapstone is one of the softest stones on Earth. (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Alabaster

Another lathe-turned soft stone is alabaster. Now used as a descriptive for a perfect complexion, alabaster is typically white with interspersed soft hues of pink. With a Mohs hardness rating of 2 or less, alabaster is a soft stone that is both easily manipulated and susceptible to scratching. Like soapstone, evidence of lathe-turned alabaster vases date back to ancient Egypt, and is prevalent in both western Mediterranean regions and the Middle East.

Soft Stones That Can Be Turned to Make Vases
Evidence of lathe turned alabaster vases discovered at the Step Pyramid dates the technology as far back as predynastic Egypt. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Onyx

With a Mohs scale hardness of 3, onyx is another type of soft stone used to create lathe-turned vases. Often thought of as being a black stone, onyx is actually available in a variety of colours, including green, yellow, red and brown. Also referred to as semi-precious agate, onyx is a carbonate sedimentary rock, formed by the introduction of thermal water to calcites, such as limestone. Capable of holding a high gloss shine, onyx vases are best for holding non-acid dry goods and flowers.

Limestone

Further up the Mohs hardness scale with a rating of 3 to 4, limestone is another type of rock used for turned vases. A sedimentary stone, limestone formed millions of years ago by the layering and compacting of oceanic sedimentation in regions once submerged under shallow seas. Other types of limestone used for carving include flowstone and banded travertine. Banded travertine, a crystalline form of limestone, is a visually stunning stone, with banded layers ranging from orange and brown to green and white.

Soft Stones That Can Be Turned to Make Vases
A Greek limestone carving. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Don't Miss

Filter:
  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
Sort:
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the eHow.co.uk site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.