Remaining strong for three generations

Morseletto, a family-run stone-working operation in Northern Italy, now in its third generation, was founded in 1904. Today, under the direction of Barbara and Deborah Morseletto, the company has 10 quarries and a state-of-the-art fabricating facility -- complete with a sculpting studio.

Among the company's quarries is an underground site that produces three varieties of Vicenza Stone: white, yellow and gray. In operation for 60 years, this quarry is on family-owned property in the region of Pietra Gialla di Vicenza. Morseletto's other quarries are also in this area, although they sit 820 feet higher in altitude. All of the Vicenza quarries are underground.

The front entrance to the Vicenza Stone quarry measures 26 feet wide and 16 feet high.

The stone is extracted with a mobile chainsaw from Fantini of Italy, and Lorenzo Filippi, director of the quarries, said he worked with the supplier to acquire a machine that could move throughout the quarry and execute a variety of cuts. When cutting blocks, workers start at the bottom rows and make horizontal cuts first, followed by vertical ones. It takes approximately 45 minutes to make a 26-foot horizontal cut. The machinery is in operation six days a week for a total of eight hours each day.

When it comes time to extract the blocks that have been cut, workers start by pulling from the upper rows. According to the company, about 40% of the material is left to serve as structural support within the quarry. The additional 60% is pulled and used for building applications. Approx-imately 120 blocks, or 590 cubic meters, are produced monthly.

According to Morseletto, Vicenza Stone is ideal for a wide range of applications, including fireplaces, staircases, columns, fountains and balustrades. Additionally, the material is used for restoring ancient interiors and historical facades.

Vicenza Stone is also chosen for many commercial designs. Among the more prestigious projects that made use of the material was Pariser Platz in Berlin, Germany, which was designed by renowned architect Frank O. Gehry. The 10-story building includes a bank, conference center and 39 apartments. Built during an historical time when united Germany was naming a capital, the project was under intense scrutiny, and the stone was the focus of much discussion. In the end, Vicenza Stone met the demands of the project and was used for both interior and exterior applications. A remaining block from this project sits in Morseletto's quarry today as a tribute to Gehry's work.

The factory

In total, Morseletto employs about 100 workers, including those at the company's quarries. Approximately 30 to 40 employees are at the fabricating facility. Since the 1960s, the factory has gone beyond locally found marbles and stones to encompass all rare and prized types of marble.

At the factory, blocks are processed on large disc saws as well as a diamond wire saw from Bideseimpianti. Slabs are cut to size on a range of bridge saws, and complex stoneworking is done with the help of an Omag Mill 5 CNC machine. The equipment runs six days a week.

In addition to the large machinery, Morseletto's facility is also equipped with many hand tools for finishing work. The company is known for its custom work, and takes pride in doing finishing by hand. Stations are set-up, allowing different workers to put the finishing touches on various projects.

Additionally, Morseletto is recognized for its restoration work. Among the company's staff are two sculptors. These master craftsmen are brothers who learned their skill from their father. They produce replicas of stone statues that have deteriorated. Depending on the size of the project, statues can take up to three months to sculpt.

Morseletto quarries and fabricates stone for an international market. The company's primary markets include the U.S., Europe, Arabia and Russia.

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