Rhodochrosite stalactites, intergrown.

We covered this beautiful pink manganese carbonate mineral in its gemmy form some time ago (see http://bit.ly/1PaXSyl), but it occurs more often in this form as hydrothermally deposited stalactites that are a staple of the gem market, usually cut as cabochons. In this micro-crystalline habit (in much the same way that agate and jasper are micro-crystalline forms of silica), it is the national mineral of Argentina, whence comes this specimen.


Image credit: LGF Foundation


There may be more fiber in your food than you realized. Burger King, McDonald’s and other fast food companies list in the ingredients of several of their foods, microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) or “powdered cellulose” as components of their menu items. Or, in plain English, wood pulp.

The emulsion-stabilizing, cling-improving, anti-caking substance operates under multiple aliases, ranging from powdered cellulose to cellulose powder to methylcellulose to cellulose gum. The entrance of this non-absorbable fiber into fast food ingredients has been stealthy, yet widespread: The compound can now be found in buns, cheeses, sauces, cakes, shakes, rolls, fries, onion rings, smoothies, meats—basically everything.

The cost effectiveness of this filler has pushed many chains to use progressively less chicken in their “chicken” and cream in their “ice cream.” McDonald’s ranks highest on the list with cellulose integrated into 14 of their menu items including their renowned fish fillets, chicken strips and biscuits, with Burger King ranking second on the list with 13 menu items containing cellulose. Moreover, many cellulose-laden ingredients (such as honey mustard, bbq sauce, and cheese blends) can be found in multiple items throughout the menu making the filler difficult to avoid.



The Incredible Beauty and Colorful Diversity of Agate

Dense bands, striking colors, fine grain, milky surfaces, and glittering pockets of crystals are just some of the features commonly found in agate. Viewed up close, the gemstone often resembles completely otherworldly sights, ranging from galactic nebulae to neon-hued, microscopic bacteria, as seen in these photos.

Agate is a form of microcrystalline quartz known for its incredible variety and the uniqueness of each stone. Initially discovered along the shoreline of the river Achates between 4th and 3rd centuries BCE, agate has been used in jewelry and ornaments for centuries.


no. 16: red jasper tumbled stone

weight: 13g/65cts & widest dimensions: 40x21x12mm

Jasper is an opaque form of Chalcedony, which is a microcrystalline variety of the mineral Quartz. It often contains an abundance of impurities, and therefore some regard it as a rock instead of a mineral. Jasper is usually associated with brown, yellow, or reddish colours, but may be used to describe other opaque colours of Chalcedony such as dark or mottled green and orange. Some forms of Jasper are banded, and these banded Jaspers may appear similar to Agate, but unlike Agate they are opaque. When Jasper is dull and lacking interesting colours or patterns, it is not Jasper but rather Chert.

Red Jasper is an opaque, microcrystalline variety of Quartz with large, grainy crystals rather than the fibrous layers of Chalcedony or Agate. It occurs in nodules or as fillings in fissures and may be found the world over. Its vibrant red to terracotta red-brown is due to high iron content, and may contain other minerals or impurities that create rich patterns. Red Jasper is a major component in Brecciated Jasper, Poppy Jasper and Rose-eye Jasper, and is prominent in many area specific Jaspers, such as Cherry Creek Jasper and Mookaite Jasper. 


Figuration is one of the oldest art forms, but it is continually evolving, reflecting contemporary concepts of human identity. Figurative art responds to technical innovations like printing, photography and digital reproduction, but the ancient craft of rendering the figure renews itself with each subsequent generation. The artists featured in UNREALISM work within the figurative canon without becoming academic. They are able to make a venerable tradition in art completely of our time.

The exhibition is on view for the duration of Art Basel Miami Beach, through December 6, 2015, 7pm ET at The Moore Building in the Miami Design District.
Image: Urs Fischer, Zhou Yinghua, 2014, paraffin wax, microcrystalline wax, encaustic pigment, oil paint, steel, and wicks, 73 × 21 ¾ × 20 inches (185.4 × 55.2 × 50.8 cm) , ed. of 2 © Urs Fischer. Photo by Ali Walker

Natural agate cup

While we have shared in the past some of the lovely bowls carved from microcrystalline silica in antiquity like the Cup of the Ptolemies (see http://tinyurl.com/o33daun and http://tinyurl.com/mcwttwm), they just don’t compare to the organic one in the photo, though at only 4cm its more of a shot glass than the sort of Krater you might find in Plato’s Symposium. Still, in ancient Greece they only had wine as far as I know, rather than the distilled stuff of more recent times. 


Image credit: Howie516


Kiki Smith
Untitled, 1990
Beeswax and microcrystalline wax figures on metal stands Female figure: 641/2 x 17 3/8 x 15 1/4”; male figure: 69 7/16 x 20 1/2 x 17” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Purchase, with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee Photograph © 1998 Whitney Museum of American Art
© Kiki Smith, 1998

Agate in quartz

The fluctuations of iron in the silica gel from which the inner layer of agate condensed are obviously apparent in this lovely slice of rock. A greater amount in the centre, gradually fizzling out into the near transparent zone, before a final burst as the microcrystalline silica cooled. Afterwards further hot fluids precipitated a nice outer rim of quartz crystals around the agate nodule.


Image credit: Bijoux et Mineraux

“Chalcedony is a microcrystalline Quartz designed to be both useful and powerful. With the utility and visual appeal of a Pearl, Quartizine strength and durability, and a more compact design, the Chalcedony makes a useful and obedient servant, as well as a competent bodyguard. Coming in a broad range of colors, they’re the perfect accessory for a high-profile Gem aristocrat!”

decided to draw one of my ocs, Felicien, as a Gem~

Alprazolam (Generic Xanax)

Treats: Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Depression, etc.
Side A Imprint: 2089 V
Side B Imprint: Vertical Line
Strength: 1mg
Color: Blue
Size: 9.00mm
Shape: Oval
Availability: Prescription Only
Drug Class: Benzodiazepines
Pregnancy Category: D - Positive Evidence of Risk
CSA Schedule: 4 - Some Potential for Abuse
Manufacturer: Qualitest Pharmeceuticals Inc.
National Drug Code (NDC): 00603-2129
Inactive Ingredients: Silicon Dioxide, Docusate Sodium, Lactose Monohydrate, Magnesium Stearate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Starch Glycolste Type A Potato, and FD&C Blue No. 2