Marble is one of those natural stones that radiates elegance, and today we are going to celebrate it by highlighting its uses around the world.
You may think of marble as just being white with a little bit of grey veining, but it can also come in red, grey, black, green, pink, and orange. Colors, swirls, and patterns show up during the metamorphic process when the minerals in the limestone react uniquely to the intense heat and pressure. Those minerals also contribute to the overall color of the marble.
While most of the world’s marble comes from India, Italy, Greece, Spain, Egypt, Turkey, and China, there are smaller marble quarries scattered across the globe. Connemara marble, for instance, is one of the rarest marbles in the world, and the fact that it comes from Ireland makes its customary rich green variations particularly appropriate.
Famous Places and Things
People have created some pretty astounding memorials out of marble over the years. Though marble isn’t the strongest, most durable stone out there, it is easy to carve and able to be polished to a high shine.
The National Mall in Washington, DC is one of the best places to go if you want to bask in American history and magnificent architecture. Of the attractions there, the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument were all made from marble.
Something interesting about the Lincoln Memorial is that there is marble from Massachusetts, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee because the designers wanted to incorporate marble and limestone from all areas of the United States.
The Washington Monument also has a little bit of history behind the marble. If you look closely, you might notice that there are three different shades of white marble, and this is due to budgetary restraints as well as variations from having to use three different contractors to finish the project.
“David” was finished in 1504 by Michelangelo, who was actually the third sculptor to work on that particular piece of marble. Standing at a whopping 17 feet tall and weighing more than six tons, the piece was originally supposed to grace the top of a cathedral but was deemed too heavy.
This statue stands today in the Accademia Gallery of Florence. It is well-known for its details (the veins in the hand, the hair, the eyes glaring toward Rome, etc.), and it was originally made to mimic the classical Greek and Roman style of pure white marble sculpture. Little did the Renaissance sculptors know, but the original Greek and Roman marble sculptures were actually painted a variety of bright colors. (Can you imagine painting marble?!)
Arlington National Cemetery is located in Northern Virginia (just outside of Washington DC) on what used to be Robert E. Lee’s family estate. You might remember that he was the leader of the Confederate Army during the Civil War, and by choosing that particular tract of land, the government was ensuring a serene, beautiful environment that would keep the graves of America’s heroes safe from both natural and human harm. (It was an added point for the Union that Robert E. Lee wouldn’t be able to use his own land anymore, but that’s another story…)
There are now over 400,000 soldiers who died in America’s wars buried on that plot, and each is marked with a beautiful, carved marble headstone. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the cemetery is also made from marble.
Marble is also used in everyday objects that you might not even think about. Of course, it’s best known for the standard things like flooring as well as countertops and kitchen supplies because of its heat-resistance and cool temperature (excellent for pastry making). You might not know, however, that it is ground up into a substance called “whiting,” which is used to brighten up paper and paint. It can also be used as road base, fill, and for other landscape purposes. Additionally, you might even find it under the sink of your bathroom because some non-abrasive cleaners use it as a scrubbing agent.
There are a number of things that you can make with scraps of marble, including rustic backsplashes, small shelves, and pastry or charcuterie boards. The Connemara marble shop even sells small blocks of marble for pen holders that are made from the leftovers from when they bored out the marble to make other sellable items.
One of the main minerals in marble is calcium, and the agricultural and medicinal industries use ground up and powdered marble to their advantage. Lime is a byproduct when marble is heated to high temperatures, and farmers use it in combination with fertilizer to increase agricultural yield. Additionally, cows and chickens need a lot calcium in their diets, so farmers add it to their feed to help them out.
Marble is also used in its purest, powdered form in antacids such as Tums or Alka-Seltzer.
Marble truly is a remarkable material due to its versatility, durability, and beauty. From stomach-settling substances to 555-foot monuments, marble is nature’s equivalent of a jack-of-all-trades. Contact our Denver offices for help in adding the elegance and functionality of marble to your home with marble countertops.