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Carrara, Italy

One of our design engineers, Alex, had the great pleasure of visiting Carrara, Italy this past June. Carrara is the marble mecca of the world with countless quarries and processing facilities. Marble professionals and friends of Precision Stone, Leonardo Corsanini and Oriano Galloni, gave Alex an in depth tour and taught him history about the region. Leonardo is the director of Studio Corsanini, a sculpting facility that serves the artistic, architectural, and industrial design communities. Galloni is an esteemed marble sculptor who has completed prolific works in New York and Carrara.

Oriano Galloni, Leonardo Corsanini, Alex Hamilton


The day began with a tour of Studio Corsanini, guided by Leonardo and Oriano. Alex was excited to see that the studio had similar state-of-the-art machinery as Precision Stone. The group discussed how innovations like giant 7-axis robots and gang-saws have truly transformed the stone industry. Twenty years ago this type of automation in the fine arts community was initially negatively perceived, due to the fear of losing artistic authenticity. Now, a facility is behind if they do not have these robotic carving and sculpting machines. Most studios and facilities have found a happy medium, combining traditional artisanship with digital technology.


After the facility tour the group drove to the nearby mountainside. Corsanini explained to Alex the history of the Marble Railway that was built in 1874. It was an incredible work of architecture and engineering, connecting the mountains to the sea. The large blocks of marble were transported from the quarries to auction-like markets to be sold, before being shipped all over the world. This marked the beginning of modernization for the marble industry, speeding up transportation time and thus increasing production. A little under a hundred years later the locomotives were replaced with new roads and trucks.



When they reached the quarry, Alex got to see one of the massive excavators that extracts the marble after it's been cut into blocks. Before this type of modern construction equipment, workers would carve out the rough shape of the desired design to reduce fabrication time later. In the photo below, in an old section of Bardiglio marble, remains of what was most likely a column. When other remains were too small or not suitable, the material was thrown over the side of the mountain - an ancient practice that is still done today. Leonardo told Alex that sometimes visitors get lucky and find ancient scraps, made obvious by engravings or square cuts. Alex recalled that his most riveting realization was that this was the same material that the Romans extracted 2,000 years ago.


Middle Right: The collection of scraps thrown over the side of the mountain


Alex also got a quick geological classification lesson from Leonardo and Oriano. There are three prominent marbles of the region: Statuary, Carrara, and Calacatta. Because of where they are located combined with millions of years of pressure, all have unique aesthetic properties. Statuary is generally a much brighter white color with less visible veins, offering a more uniform appearance. Carrara has subtle and soft gray veining and color, while Calacatta is known for its heavier and dramatic veins.


Statuary


Carrara


Calacatta

The trio discussed how "perfect white marble" is usually desired for sculptures, but they agreed that there is beauty in the pieces showing the natural veins of the marble.


This was a unique experience getting to maintain one of the special relationships that Precision Stone has made over the years. Our team members get to enjoy the company of other stonemasons and artisans all over the world, and celebrate our shared love for natural stone.
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