The first schools to produce Scagliola inlay were found in Austria, Germany and mainly Italy, at Carpi (hence the name "Scagliola Carpigiana"). The level of skill achieved by scagliola artists in Bavaria and Carpi starting from the late sixteenth and throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries is the highest testimony to this form of art.

Scagliola is derived from Selenite (by-hydrated calcium sulphite), a mineral commonly found in flakes form (scagliola is Italian for flake). The selenite flakes used to be extracted and placed in furnaces, where once reached a temperature of 128º C they dehydrate and start to pulverise.
This powdered selenite would then be removed from the furnace and fully ground to powder in mortars. Once impurities were sieved to leave a white powder, Scagliola was finally obtained. When mixed with water, the powder regains its original structure, but the gesso obtained in this way is fragile and brittle. The gesso is then mixed with glue, desiccated and treated with oils and waxes, it acquires sufficient hardness with good strength properties and impermeability.
The best schools of Scagliola artists were concentrated in the Emilia Romagna Apennine region, particularly in the Carpi area near Modena

Work Stages

The main stages in the execution of Scagliola inlay on marble are:

Stage1. After a design is drawn and the relevant tracing transferred, cutting out starts
Stage 2. The hollowed elements in the design are filled with a paste of coloured scagliola (made of selenite powder mixed with pigments and natural glues) with a scraper or the paste in more liquid state is poured according to the desired type of stone imitation
Stage 3. Proud parts of the design are smoothed and sanded with pumice stone.
Stage 4. Where the scagliola presents a porous appearance, this is filled with appropriate colours
Stage 5. After sanding filled areas according to the design, the cycle of cutting out, filling and smoothing may need to be repeated
The final stage consists of wax polishing or applying appropriate protective transparent coating

Interpreting service available if required
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