One material I know little to nothing about in this business is stone, so when I was told a trip to Gawet Marble & Granite quarry was in order on my recent visit to Vermont, I was actually looking forward to it. Not so much for the technical stuff but for the art program that held residence on the site. Positioned on 200-acres of a former marble quarry and manufacturing site was a sculpture garden and active work spaces for artists— locally, nationally and internationally renowned. Because we were there on a rainy Sunday we only saw a few artists working, but they were tented and tapping away at a seemingly endless supply of excavated and abandoned marble and granite. I’ve never seen marble sculpture outside of a museum or church, so this was really cool to see up close. And despite my best efforts, I learned a little something about marble production too.
Known for producing the best marble in the union, Vermont is home to multiple quarries. A form of surface mining, quarrying removes materials that are close to land’s surface, though they often dig below the water table, which creates beautiful lakes and ponds.
For larger pieces used on counter tops and large format tiles, like the ones I saw here, miners drill large holes in the rock, at wide distances apart. We also think we saw compressed water or air devices that could have been used to make very clean cuts through the stone.
In the video you can see the size of the marble chunks being removed from the Earth. At the Gawet quarry, we saw a plumb bob next to an excavation area that we assume was also used to transport the Earth chunks with a crane.
The amount of material that had been left was astounding. As far as you could see, there were piles and piles of unused marble.
It was so abundant, buildings had been constructed from mix-and-match chunks, creating storage structures and work spaces from what was mostly white marble, though we found a little black and green.
What was undeniably my favorite part of the visit was the carving studio and sculpture center that had been set up at the entrance to the site. It was wonderful to see all that material re-purposed to make beautiful and sometimes quirky artwork.
To think this same material built the columns of the Parthenon!