So after touring the Mexico City airport, which is becoming a full time job for me, I finally encountered Tim Roberts of Materials Marketing fame in the lobby of the Camino Real hotel. He introduced me to Jorge, their factory manager. The next morning, after being assured that during daylight hours it’s quite safe to travel in the area (the town of Huichapan in the state of Hidalgo), Jorge took the wheel and drove us into the countryside north of Mexico City towards the stone carving factory that produced the incredible work I described and illustrated in a recent post.
I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect the area to be as GORGEOUS as it is. And the temperature!–little known fact: the average daytime temperature in this part of Mexico right now (middle of July) is about 80. It’s the rainy season, so regular showers keep it cool. Who knew?
Below you can see handsome Tim and I lounging around on a Capital that was made in the factory we visited.
As my tireless tour guide, Tim took me from the block yard to the large and small machinery areas, to the hand carving sections, to the staging and shipping areas. At each interval important steps occur in the manufacturing process.
There are different procedures for different architectural elements. For example, if you have ordered anything that is generally cylindrical in shape, they first need to be processed on a very strong stone lathe.
Here are some finished “blanks” that might eventually be literally “turned” into columns or balustrades:
Any of them might need to be hollowed out if a structural element needs to be inserted.
If you’ve ordered a fireplace surround or “chimneypiece” as they refer to them in England, a worker might draw a pattern on the sides in pencil, then saw away sections until it resembles a very rough version of its eventual incarnation.
If you look very closely, you can see the pencil drawing above.
Once the shape has been roughed out, finishing occurs with other hand-held tools like grinders and sanders. Below is a video that demonstrates a method of removing stone from the form’s negative space.It’s not terribly high-tech and requires not only brute strength but precision, finesse, and talent. Notwithstanding, I wouldn’t want to arm-wrestle any of the employees.
A final product eventually emerges from the hunks of stone–customers can choose from twenty different varieties offered by Material Marketing.
All of this is eventually packed up and sent to eager customers who ideally appreciate all the sweat and artistry that went into producing their interior and exterior architectural elements. I like to imagine the lucky purchasers toasting them in front of their carved stone fireplaces, with honorary margaritas.
Exmore, Virginia, United States
New Ravenna Mosaics founder and Creative Director, Owner, Sara Baldwin Design, Bass guitar player, Envisioner, Appreciator of the Sublime and Ridiculous.