Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Selecting Marble

Our clients have come to expect  a high standard of marble carving from us and the only way we can achieve the highest quality and crispness is to get the marble at exactly the right length of time it has been out of the ground and work it before it dries and a calcareous layer is formed. This drying process is essential for exterior pieces especially in cold climates and for such pieces we allow them to dry before going out to the client.
marble quarry
When bought from UK suppliers or just ordering on the phone we can get marble that has possibly been quarried years ago, this is fine for flooring, cladding, table tops etc. but not for intricate carving, the longer the marble is out of the ground the more brittle it becomes as the natural moisture drawn up from the bed rock, what we call quarry sap, dries. When choosing limestone, sandstone and slate the need for really fresh material is virtually unimportant in most cases.
Marble block at Carrara, Province Massa-Carrar...
I make at least 4 visits a year to France Italy and Spain to purchase the marble for our more intricate pieces, going to the quarry to choose the marble in block form, then depending on block size either we cut the block down our self or if over 2 metres high we have the block cut down by the quarry.
When choosing I am looking for blocks with no flaws, a close grain and the correct hardness, colour and /or veining for the projects I have in mind.
Although obviously travelling around the continent is an enjoyable experience there is always the nagging fear that the blocks chosen are not suitable and this is only proven one way or other when the block is cut, possibly a month after being purchased. Thanks the bitter experience of making wrong choices in my younger days we are now as successful as can be expected when choosing a  natural material formed under intense heat and pressure over huge stretches of time.