Enter the Fantini; First New Colorado Yule Marble Quarry Portal in 100 Years, 1942 to 2018

The STORY of COLORADO YULE MARBLE at MARTINCOONEY.COM

1942 to 2018

Enter the Fantini

Italian marble quarrying knowledge, experience, and financial investment, steps in to create the first Colorado Yule Marble portal in 100 years, and the quarry is back in business like never before.

photo Ron Bailey

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1942. BUST again! The United States enters World War Two as the world’s largest marble mill is dismantled, and the railroad tracks torn up.

photo Ron Bailey

1945. World War Two is over, but the town of Marble of endures another catastrophic flood, just 4 years after the last one. At one point the town’s population dipped to just one; Theresa Herman, the school teacher.

1956. The town of Marble’s population shows 26 registered voters.

1986. Steps are taken to reopen the Yule marble quarry, for the third time.  And in true Yule marble quarry tradition following in the footsteps of John C. Osgood and Channing F. Meek, this time around it came about via the efforts of Denver oilman Stacy Dunn.

1989. Disaster strikes Yule marble, yet again, as the quarries’ new owner, Stacy Dunn, follows a similar fate to that of Channing Meek, back in 1912.  But whereas Meek died jumping to avoid a “runaway” train, Stacy Dunn was to die in what is described as an “automobile accident”. As with the original Colorado-Yule Marble Company 8 decades prior, their fates were combined when the new C.Y.M.C. was declared bankrupt in 1997. “Stacy Dunn, 35, of Evergreen, Colo., died Thursday, April 27, 1989, at Buena Vista, Colo., of injuries sustained in an automobile accident“. A curse, coincidence or what? Extreme bad luck at the very least, I would say.

1997. The newly  bankrupt Colorado Yule Marble Companies assets are acquired by Bath Stone of England –  the first company to give me work immediately upon gaining the Banker Masonry NVQ Level 2 qualifications that I attained at the City of Bath College. An odd coincidence, I know, and now that I know this my mind goes back to a number of conversations that I had over there that now, with this new found information, casts my time there in an entirely new light, but never-the-less, I digress. Bath Stone held possession of the quarry for two years, before selling it on to Rex Loseby of Sierra Minerals.

1999. Whatever the profit, motivation, or degree of success achieved by Bath Stone of England regarding keeping the operation at least a ‘going concern’, little seems to have materialized in terms of actual marble quarrying. Just two years on they are selling the quarry to Sierra Minerals, who are often these days cited as “reopening” the quarry . The company is run by Rex Loesby, who had previously pulled out of his involvement with the earlier attempt by the Colorado Yule Marble Companies’ to revive the quarry. This time however he holds what I am sure he thought was a sustainable plan, for Loesby had acquired the contract to supply none other than the Veterans Administration with marble for the national cemetery headstones. He is to run the quarry for 5 years, until ownership passes on to Canadian company, Polycor.

2004. Rex Loseby’s Sierra Minerals sells the quarry to Quebec based company Polycor, under the name Colorado Stone Quarries Incorporated, with much of the marble production exported to Italy. They run the operation until the crash of ’08, from whence the recession put the kibosh on any and all plans, dreams and schemes that Loseby had for his quarry. World Wars, recessions, deadly ‘accidents’, and scandalous betrayals: the unfortunate Colorado has born the brunt of them all. Once again, the aging quarry suffers the indignity of closure. This time it was the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Suffering the same turmoil, disappointment and despair that sideswiped many of us during this most desperate period, the company limped on until the grim facts of reality force operations to cease, by December 2009 Polycor had shuttered Yule marble, all Yule marble operations; the lights were out, and the jobs gone.

2010. Fortunately for everyone with an appreciation for Colorado’s state rock and America’s finest white marble, at the point when all seemed doom and gloom, and when quarry owners were coming and going with the frequency of European football managers, up steps Mr. Enrico Luciani of Carrara, Italy., who takes possession of the quarry in October, 2010.  Polycor however still retains the purchasing rights to the North American market, while the industrious Mr. Luciani I’m sure will make use of his extensive contacts in Carrara, Italy, and the rest of Europe, to ensure that such exquisite, and now exquisitely quarried, top quality marble will reach the market that it truly deserves.

2011.  Under the seasoned, experienced, and watchful eye of new owner Enrico Luciani, on behalf of the RED Graniti partnership, Colorado Yule Marble is not only reopened for business, but relaunched as a concept, and tied to quarrying concepts forged and developed over many centuries in and around his home town of Carrara, Italy.  At long last, and for the first time in over 125 years of marble quarrying endeavor, a wealth of experience, along with direct line to the billions of dollars garnered by the international marble industry, places Colorado Yule Marble firmly within the grasp of architects and designers the world around.   And so it was that in January of 2011 Mr. Luciani restarts the marble quarrying operations, just three months after his taking possession.  However, as we shall see, all similarities between previous changes in Yule marble quarry ownership, management, methods and practices to this point bear little resemblance to the arrival of Mr. Enrico Luciani of Carrara, a man whom (if I am not greatly mistaken) retains all the necessary requirements to follow, and build upon, the incredible efforts of John C. Osgood and Channing Meek, in at last making Colorado Yule Marble a familiar name in interior design, both commercial and residential, and of course sculpture the world around.

2011. Coincidence dictates that at the moment Mr. Enrico Luciani of Carrara, Italy, was taking the reigns at the Yule marble quarry, I, Martin Cooney of Preston, England, was busy at work, just 23 miles distant (as the eagle flies) splitting and carving a well-seasoned ten ton slab of the Yule marble, at some point drilled, wire cut, then ekeed out of the quarry by his predecessors many, many years prior.  Little did I realize at the time that, in my rendering an unapproachable and slightly in-the-way, slab of left over marble, I would not only create The Maiden Collection, but in doing so develop and establish the revolutionary light weight concept of my signature Curvilinear Marble Sculpture. Neither did I think for a second the degree to which I myself was about to join a long list of those bitten by the Colorado Yule Marble bug. Whether Mr. Luciani feels that he was bitten by the bug too – or if, unlike myself, he has known all along of Yule’s startling properties, is not yet on record. But what I will say is that he shows an incredible passion for the subject, and brings with him the all-important knowledge and experience that a modern world class marble quarrying operation demands.

2012. Under Enrico Luciani’s careful management work begins to drive a new portal into the seam of unique white marble at the newly formed Colorado Stone Quarries Incorporated quarry. They then call in the Aspen Times for a personal interview with Mr Luciani (link quarry.jcolson@postindependent.com). In the article Mr. Luciani’s fervent confidence, assurance, optimism and excitement, is on full display. And apparently his boundless enthusiasm has proven effective: this is “the first new portal into the seam in more than 100 years.” boasts the quarry’s administrative manager, Kimberly Perrin, who goes on to inform the paper that “this will bring us 65 to 100 years of production”.  “This is the future of the quarry”, reveals Enrico Locati Luciani, indicating the new Fantini cutting machine that he had recently purchased at a cost of $700,000. “We know the material is, ah, very nice” he said.

“We love artists”, (music to my ears) “We will always sell to artists” announces quarry admin manager Kimberly Perrin, even though less than one percent of all finished marble is bought by sculptors. “I have lots of ideas for this quarry” confides Mr. Luciani, one of his ideas was to create a fabrication and finishing plant as close to the quarry as possible, ideally in or around the Interstate town of Rifle, Colorado, which in turn will greatly reduce current transportation costs, whereby the huge quarry blocks are shipped, at great expense, to be worked in Italian marble shops. Furthermore a handsome, efficient and prominent marble operation, right alongside one of the busiest and most scenic interstate highways in the entire county, could prove an interesting and attractive tourist center, and thereby greatly assist in raising the profile of this incredible natural material, this Colorado State Rock, this amazing and amazingly rare, Colorado Yule Marble.

 

The Maiden Collection Slab

The Maiden Collection Slab

The Marble from Marble

In the 12 months between September 2011 and September 2012 it was my great pleasure to discover the fascinating properties present within America’s premium white marble as I split and carved a single slab into the 41 sculptures of The Maiden Collection.  This huge, roughly ten ton slab of Colorado Yule Marble, quarried many years ago and abandoned to the elements, laid undisturbed in the corner of a gravel-strewn parking lot, and when it was delivered to my Woody Creek studio I had not the slightest idea what to do with it.   For well over two years the monstrous slab sat in my yard and proved the perfect repose for a quick afternoon nap, or conversely a long leisurely gaze at the stars. But when the autumn of 2011 began to take on the familiar appearance of early winter I felt it was time for action before we were again blanketed in a thick layer of snow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

So, with no particular plan or idea in mind I set about breaking the slab into manageable ‘bite-sized’ chunks using the plug and feather technique.  I had relied upon many times when shaping larger projects, such as entrance signs and the like, but this ‘slab’ was altogether a different kettle of fish – for one thing it was almost 2 feet thick. I had some experience working with Yule Marble but this was an altogether different proposition, and on a scale I had never previously tackled.  To cut a long story short, the first few weeks proved a very steep learning curve.  The marble seemed to possess a will of its own, and from this uniform rectangular slab popped strangely consistent trapezoid blocks. This oddly willful marble block had simply refused to comply with my fanciful plans,  and revealed a seemingly elaborate plan of its own.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

It took several weeks before I finally realized just what I had done: by splitting, rather than cutting into the slab with a saw, I had unleashed forces that had been forged by the geological history of the slab itself,  forces that had been at play for well over 30 million years.  Gradually I discovered how to interpret and encompass this unanticipated dramatic element within the stone. And as the new Maiden Collection began to slowly emerge, one-after-another, in a continued procession,  I was able to take the knowledge gained from each successive carving and apply it to the next; until Work in Progress, the Maiden Collection’s 41st carving announced that the slab was at last exhausted (and perhaps if I am truthful, by this time so was I )… and my inaugural marble collection ‘complete’.

~ ~ ~

The STORY of COLORADO YULE MARBLE at MARTINCOONEY.COM

1942 to 2018

photo Ron Bailey

Enter the Fantini

Italian marble quarrying knowledge, experience, and financial investment, steps in to create the first Colorado Yule Marble portal in 100 years, and the quarry is back in business like never before.

~ ~ ~

Thanks for visiting martincooney.com

~ ~ ~

∏∏∧®†Ï⌈⌉

~ ν •

 

Thoughts ideas questions suggestions concerns requests and opinions here please, if you will?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s