The Gypsum Files

Notes on the Rock Nobody Knows

Revisiting Midland, CA

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Midland, CA has been mentioned on this blog before. Recently BLDGBLOG took another look at this gypsum ghost town and its surprising connection to Hollywood:

What’s so interesting about this place—aside from the exposed concrete foundation pads now reused as platforms for RVs, or the empty streets forming an altogether different kind of geoglyph, or even the obvious ease with which one can get there, simply following the aptly named Midland Road northeast from Blythe—is the fact that the town was built for workers at the gypsum mine, and that the gypsum extracted from the ground in Midland was then used as artificial snow in many Hollywood productions.

via BLDGBLOG: The Snow Mine.



Written by Elizabeth McCullough

July 16, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Lovely photo of Ukrainian gypsum mine

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Ukrainian gypsum mine by Yaroslav Segeda

“This is probably my best find, a gypsum mine in eastern Ukraine. An inconspicuous door led to an underground city with its own traffic, street signs and 20-metre-tall caves,” says Yaroslav Segeda.

via BBC News – The urban explorers of the ex-USSR.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 26, 2014 at 10:20 am

The 1965 Parade of Homes

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The quality on this video is not great, but you can see a method of wall construction using sound-deadening board plus gypsum wall board that was used for the 1965 Parade of Homes in Alabama. As Boomer families grew and entertainment moved inside the home, the building industry played up the concept of the “Quietized” home.

via 1965 Parade of Homes, The – YouTube.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 24, 2014 at 8:00 am

Is Forever Board the future of drywall?

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Ronald J. Voit sees gypsum boards used everywhere in construction as drywall building material.

But he remains undaunted about bringing a mold-resistant alternative called Forever Board to the market.

“It’s just a matter of getting everybody familiar with the product,” Voit said of his invention.

Buffalo is the hub for his hopes. A few years ago, Voit bought a vacant factory near the Buffalo River in South Buffalo and moved in production equipment he acquired from a defunct plant in Ohio.

Now Voit has launched manufacturing, aiming to get his product used in commercial and residential projects. Voit said he uses a proprietary process to strengthen the chemical bonds in production of his magnesium oxide boards. “I use the Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken theory: Nobody knows my secret recipe, not even my investors,” he said.

Forever Board aims to make breakthrough in drywall – Business – The Buffalo News.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 6, 2014 at 8:00 am

25 Years of Gold Bond Leadership

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Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 4, 2014 at 7:00 am

Building the American Dream

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I love these vintage films. This one captures the urgency and opportunity created by the post-World War II housing shortage and boom. It’s true, as the actors say, that house construction before the war was largely done by small contractors. Levittown and similar developments are examples of the dominance of large vertically-integrated construction companies that began in the 1950s and continues today — what the film-within-the-film calls “the dynamic catalyst.” Note how the narrator ties the explosion of suburban developments to the “pioneers” on the “prairie.”

The impact on the American landscape was enormous. From fewer than 200,000 new homes in 1945, housing starts grew to one million a year during the boom that started in 1948.  (By contrast, housing starts in 2009 were fewer than 600,000 and are just now breaking one million a year.)

And, of course — gypsum was there!

HT: USG on Facebook

Building the American Dream ca. 1956 – YouTube.

Written by Elizabeth McCullough

June 2, 2014 at 5:00 am

Selenite – Crystal Cathedrals

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Unbelievably beautiful!


What is it?

It is the dream of all crystallographers to develop a technique which can grow the largest and highest quality crystals possible. Often this is extremely difficult to do due to all of the competing factors which can drive crystal growth, and so it is often considered an art form. The rarity of large single crystals is what makes the Naica crystal caves truly extraordinary.

The great crystal cavern of NAICA mines. The great crystal cavern of NAICA mines.

Buried 300 meters below the surface, and discovered at a time when we people believed that they had seen every spectacular sight the earth had to offer, are the selenite crystal caves (Figure 1). No, this is not a carefully constructed Photoshop; those are real people climbing over pure gypsum crystals, otherwise known as selenite. In fact these are the largest of any naturally occurring crystals measuring up to 12 m in length, 4 m in diameter and…

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Written by Elizabeth McCullough

May 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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