MARTINCOONEY.COM: What’s it all about? Stats Reveal Carrara and Yule Rule the Ratings

Difficult as this is for me to comprehend

This is martincooney.com post number 333

And for some reason it seemed an appropriate moment to take stock of exactly what MC.COM is really all about. After all, it all started way back when in the spring of 2013 as I recall, and at the time I don’t remember pouring too much extraneous content into the website, other than to document the life and times of a 21st Century Stone Banker Mason turned Stone Carver and Sculptor.

Three hundred and thirty three posts, ten thousand tagged-titled-and-hyper-linked photos, and dozens of videos later; the question begs, ‘just what is all this about, Martin?’ Well, let’s take a look at the stats, see just what people have been looking at and maybe we will find out.

TOP 30 POSTS

As of August 12, 2019

1.        Home Page Archives 17,159
2.        About Colorado Yule Marble 2,653
3.        Death in Pisa: The Camposanto Gravestones 837
4.        An Afternoon in Casoli; Tuscan Village of Art 356
5.        Pontremoli, The Heart and Soul of Lunigiana 265
6.        Borgo a Mozzano, a Gothic Line, and a Glorious San Rocchino: In Pictures, The North West Tuscan Way, Tour 22 247
7.        About My Marble Bowls 246
8.        Ode to the Italian Barbershop 242
9.        ‘Pareidolia’: The Genius of Giuseppe Arcimbolo, and the Art of Seeing What’s Not There 204
10.     The Marble Quarries of Carrara 194
11.     San Rocchino Pool, Home Page 194
12.     Green Man Solar Fountain, Home Page 190
13.     Death in Pisa: The Camposanto Sarcophagi 181
14.     Lunigiana, Valley of Enchantment 178
15.     Postcard from Viareggio 176
16.     Death in Pisa: The Camposanto Statuary 174
17.     The Horror of Sant’Anna di Stazzema 171
18.     A Very Good Friday in Pisa 165
19.     June in San Rocchino, Provincia Di Lucca, Tuscany 163
20.     Trouble in Carrara. The Marble Quarries: My Solution 134
21.     About My Curvilinear Reductionist Sculpture 132
22.     ABOUT The Maiden Collection 121
23.     Mysterious Montereggio, Village of Books: In Pictures, The North West Tuscany Way, Tour 18 117
24.     Pt.3) Enter the Fantini; First New Colorado Yule Marble Quarry Portal in 100 Years, 1942 to 2018 116
25.     Beached Boat, Home Page 116
26.     Camaiore, Market Town Extraordinaire: In Pictures: The North West Tuscan Way, Tour 5 116
27.     Paradise Found at Bar Avio, Pietrasanta, Italy 114
28.     Farewell to Pietrasanta 112
29.     Uncle Bud’s Hut Trip: Part 2, Footloose in the Land of Giants 105
30.     Pisa, The Camposanto Statuary: In Pictures: The North West Tuscan Way, Tour 1

103

Now I do realize that while these numbers are tiny by internet standards they mean a lot to me, for I am always flattered and happy when people take time out of their busy day to click onto martincooney.com, but now, after so many years have elapsed since my debut on the internet in 2013 that I find that I have amassed over 350 illustrated posts and informational pages. Add that to the 10,064 hyperlinked photographs, plus the dozens of short videos and vast scale of this homespun website slowly wields into view.

Given the wide, and at times admittedly scatological nature of martincooney.com, even a cursory glance at the the above table makes it abundantly clear as to which two huge subjects dominate traffic: Colorado Yule Marble, and The North West Tuscan Way – or in other words, my circular journey from Pisa to Pisa, encompassing the Marble Quarries of Carrara along the way.

And although this would perhaps have come as something of a shock to me back in 2013, it now seems only natural; as each day more and more people from across the planet tune into a slew of posts, some of which were actually written several years ago, and some just the other day.

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Perhaps given my rather unique position regarding hands-on knowledge gained by carving so much Yule marble; combined with my researched knowledge of the quarry’s long and storied history; together with a first-hand and well documented three month sojourn in and around the Carrara marble quarries; it is perhaps not surprising that these two topics would combine to dominate MC.COM. But you know what? I like it.

I like being able to not only impart valuable information to an inquiring public – especially when the audience is spread around the globe. But more than anything I like to offer up solutions based upon my particular insights to problems whereby I essentially see people quite often agreeing, while going round in circles, in that everyone claims both love and concern for the environment, the culture, the wildlife etcetera, but no one steps in with genuinely new solutions, except me!

The answer lay in a way of carving called Direct Method – a means in which many artists use to carve impromptu sculpture. But I have pushed the boundaries to the point whereby by Direct Method may be utilized on an industrial scale in order to produce high quality hand carved marble bowls for instance; from what would ordinarily be deemed mere quarry waste. But that is another subject, and one I deal with at length in many posts under the category of The Story of Colorado Yule Marble. Please click on the tab above if you wish to catch up with events so far.

I am convinced that if everyone fully heard everyone else out then we would be well on our way to solving deep seated problems that only appear to be growing worse with each passing year. But I honestly feel as though such seemingly impassable obstacles can and will be addressed one day – and sooner rather than later. What I propose is to simply utilize all of the marble we have already quarried, and then make sure that all new marble is quarried in such a manner as is taken out up at the Yule quarry, whereby extraction rates of 70 to 80 percent are routine, and all the marble quarried is put to use in one manner or another.

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This video appears on the excellent and informative coloradostonequarries.com website………link produced by Aspen 82 Published on Jun 1, 2016

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It is one thing to read books, watch videos and generally talk the talk. It is another to step into the belly of the beast and take a good long look around, as I did in order to take the pictures you see above and below. Don’t worry – I took supreme caution when navigating the quarry roads, as by then I had been driving in Italy for long enough to know to give way to any and all oncoming trucks. But it was towards the end of the day, and no one seemed too bothered, and so on this occasion I had plenty of time to take a good look around and truly asses the situation.

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What I discovered was that contrary to the Yule quarry’s tight little mile wide seam – some two or three hundred feet in height – the scene awaiting me from the vantage point central to the whole proceedings was quite breathtaking. For instead of the giant mountains of marble that I had imagined from a distance, the valley was actually comprised of mainly sandy rubble, with the marble appearing in thick seams, though a lot of it appeared cracked and generally distressed. And so in other words, these highly skilled quarriers were tasked with removing much in the way of plain ordinary dirt simply in order to get at the good stuff – hence the 75 percent accepted percentage of waste, as mentioned in the Business Insider video above.

But what is waste if it is all used one way or another? Then such quarries will simply be creating new space, and all that sand will be neatly sifted and sorted, the rocks and boulders sorted and sold. Even dirt has a price! Then, imagine just what spectacular homes these worn out seams would make. And that is just one idea of many that really needs to be discussed if we are not to close perfectly good quarries, and let the out-dated ones remain.

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Carrara and Yule – Yule and Carrara, just what have these two fabulous marbles have in common, and what sets them worlds apart? That would seem to be the question on everyone’s lips as this upstart newcomer to the international marble scene continues to stir increased interest across the globe.

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Well, essentially what sets them ‘world’s apart’ is two-fold: firstly, it is a mater of size. To put it simply, Carrara marble quarries are so vast that they are often mistaken for snow-capped peaks by visitors to the nearby Mediterranean coast. So huge is the spectacle in fact that the quarries and their adjacent waste piles that they can clearly be seen from space.

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Now, contrast and compare, above and below.

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That tiny little white dot to the immediate left of the Yule Marble Quarry above; well that is it, all of it, as framed by Google Earth below.

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Yep, that’s it, the whole thing – there is no more. This mile wide seam is just about it – the entire Yule marble quarry commercial face. It does however stretch for about three miles under the surface, but as the vein slopes down at roughly 30 degrees the marble dives deeper and deeper under the Rockies the further it goes, and it goes back for approximately three miles.

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And so, quite the contrast, eh? On one continent we have vast marble mountains that look like snow – in the case of Carrara. And over here in America – in the case of Yule, we have snow-capped mountains that look like marble, and a tiny little speck of marble that looks like snow.

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So how can this be? How can Carrara be simply here-there-and-everywhere, while Yule on the other hand may only be found perched on the side of one obscure little creek, 9,300 feet above sea level in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Elk Range?

Turns out there is a very simple explanation. Whereas Carrara was formed by what is termed ‘Regional Metamorphism’; as Africa’s tectonic plate squeezed itself onto and over its European neighbor, the marble was formed as a huge limestone layer was slowly crushed and churned into marble – the heat required for such transformation therefore being generated from the resulting friction created as continental plates ground together.

Yule marble however was formed via Contact Metamorphism, whereby a relatively small fleck (in comparison to Carrara) of Leadville limestone found itself engulfed by a huge mantel of molten magma; whereby it was crushed and churned at vastly higher temperatures than its counterpart, Regional Metamorphism, in a process that turned practically 100 percent of the limestone into 95 percent pure white calcite marble – a marble so pure in fact that it is now becoming renowned, prized and quite exalted for its incredible luminescence, thoroughbred markings, and truly incredible structural properties. Which explains why Yule is now being named by many within the marble industry as ‘the most desirable, sought after and expensive marble in the world’. Which may come as a surprise to many, and cause alarm perhaps for others.  But the truth is it needn’t – cause alarm that is – to anyone. For the vast mountainous Carrara marble quarries can surely feel no real competition from such a minute speck of (dare I say it?) superior marble called Yule; hauled down from the top of the Rockies, half a world away. For that is what it is in relative terms; a speck. But what a speck, if you don’t mind me saying.

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'Beached Boat' Hand Carved Colorado Yule Marble Bowl by Martin Cooney

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From my experience there is practically nothing you cannot do with Yule – even the well-seasoned old blocks of stone that I salvaged in order to create my 67 piece Collection Series – the links to which are found in the various menus above and to the right of your screen – served me well, once I knew what I was doing that is.

This isn’t to say that Yule marble isn’t without its, shall we say moody side. I am only speaking from the position of a Direct Method carver, with but a couple of forays into carving from the cube, as we say. Even the unlikeliest of rough blocks can yield the most gorgeous and delicate sculpture. And although much of my Curvilinear Marble Sculpture may appear extraordinarily delicate I can assure you that quite opposite is the case, with many of the larger bowls and sculptures spending several winters outdoors throughout many Colorado Rocky Mountain seasons.

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But getting back to the quarry (don’t worry, clicks on my sculpture will make the top 30 one day, you’ll see), what I really would like to do is set the record straight in several regards, mainly pertaining to the exceptional environmental credentials that I see taking place up at 9,300 feet in the Rockies. To put it very briefly; Yule has a long and storied history in this valley, and much of it has been a struggle in every sense of the word. Many fortunes have been lost and lives ruined, even as the stone itself graced some of the finest homes, government buildings and monuments in the land, including of course the Lincoln Memorial.

But still, even as the stone itself gained notoriety for its unrivaled quality – which is why it was chosen for so many grand civic projects – it was losing money. At one time the Yule marble finishing mill was the largest of its kind in the world, but alas it wasn’t to be, and for 40 years the quarry lay shuttered and closed, eventually filling with millions of gallons of water, to add insult to injury.

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The fact of the matter was that, brilliant as this new super white and extraordinarily durable marble is – it turns out to be located in one of the toughest places in America from which to extract it. In other words; it was the very nature of the land that both created such marvelous marble, and at the same time made its harvest too prohibitively expensive. Quite the quandary.

But that was then, and this is now – for if every cloud has a silver lining this historic quarry now stands to gain massively from not only all of the technological advantages gained in recent decades within the quarrying industry, but it actually got to wipe the slate clean and start all over again.

This time however, and for the first time in a long and proud history stretching back over 125 years, two huge factors now loom large in that, perhaps for the first time ever, the quarry would appear adequately financed in order to quarry the marble in exemplary fashion.

In one fell swoop new owners Colorado Stone Quarries’ first act was to ditch all existing equipment and bring in the very best, very latest, and I am sure the most expensive quarrying equipment on the market. Next was to bring in the Italians. Not just any Italians by the way, but long-standing marble quarrying experts from guess where? Yep, Carrara! Where else?

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And there you have it really – the difference between Yule and Carrara could not be starker in one sense, and yet so similar in others. So much so in fact that Red Graniti, parent company to Colorado Stone Quarries, has re-branded their top quality marble block “Calcatta”, and “Calcatta Lincoln”. High praise indeed when you think about it. According to various spokesmen associated with the company such exquisite marble  as found in the tiny Yule Creek is rare: very rare indeed. Whether they will ever grudgingly admit that Yule is not only the equal of Carrara but its better, well that may never happen, and I don’t blame them. But I will go on beating the drum for Yule as I really think that it is a quite spectacular stone well worthy of its semi-precious status and  proud title as Colorado State Rock.

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And here I’ll leave you with one final thought: Yule is but a Beautiful Jewel when compared to most, if not all other marble quarries.  And just like any jewel it is by definition very rare indeed. As an example I point to the pictures above and below, where we see what is being billed as Europe’s largest marble quarry (which must make it the world’s largest I would assume), located and recently opened in Greece.  What you will notice here perhaps is not only the uniform looking quality of the marble, but that there is just so darn much of it. And what you should really notice is how little appears to be lost to waste, and therefore presents somewhat of a textbook case for replication across the marble industry – and indeed, dare I say it, across the Carrara marble region?

As I have explained here and in many posts and pages across martincooney.com, the way that Yule marble is being harvested, with almost unheard of ratios of 75, 80 even 85 percent, such numbers I would imagine, are surely enough to persuade even the most ardent environmentalist to re-assess their objections, and take another look at 21st Century marble quarrying technique at its finest.

For what have we once the quarry is exhausted and the seam quarried? Empty space lined with marble – what a fantastic living situation we could create for the modern day troglodyte! Fully equipped, well appointed marble apartments, with a view. I can see it now.

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Birros Marble Quarry 4, Pirgon Quarry, near the village of Drama of Northern Greece

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And so now, after around 350 posts and pages, I suppose I have found purpose in explaining to whoever may wander in to martincooney.com, just what the essential differences – and similarities – are between the world renowned Carrara marble, and its new, tiny, top quality rival from across the pond.

And even by reading this short post, watching the videos and taking in the pictures, I am sure that you will agree that you now know more on the subject than you ever did before?

Or perhaps you never even thought about Yule marble, or even Carrara for that matter; but don’t you find it all pretty fascinating? Course you do. I do, as you can see; and so stay tuned to martincooney.com and I will surely keep you informed, entertained and hopefully much wiser regarding the connections, similarities and contrasts between Yule and Carrara marble.

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MARTINCOONEY.COM: What’s it all about? Stats Reveal Carrara and Yule Rule the Ratings

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thanks for visiting martincooney.com

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