07-23. Gypsum #1.

Wonder why this quart of plaster of Paris on the shelf at the art supply store is so often leaky?

Now you know – This is what a crystal of gypsum unit cell looks like – all tiny atoms racing to escape their frame for some reason.
Gypsum is a mineral of many trades – the fine gypsum powder was so prized by Nova Scotia, it went to war for it back in the mid-1800s. The huge, 300 sq. mi. wide sand dune of White Sand in New Mexico – it’s gypsum. The massive 36 ft long crystal in the Naica cave of Chihuahua, Mexico – it’s gypsum too. It has even been found on Mars

This amazing mineral comes as a monoclinic, prismatic structure. It is transparent but as most crystals, it acquires the color or the inclusions it gathers as it develops and grows from tiny to massive.

Alabaster, known for its transparency and soft hues is a good example of gypsum at its best – in nature and in the arts.