10 Feb Stone Crafter Gianmaria Sabatini
“I made this tool by myself. You know, there are no specific tools to work this kind of stone, so I had to design one“. We are at Gianmaria’s workshop, an artisan who handles a material that no one else uses. He had to learn by himself how to handle it, how to cut it, how to shape it.
The material is Pietra daCantoni, a very peculiar kind of stone that is only found in the Monferrato area. Old farms and cellars are made with this material, which Gianmaria has learned to love.”There aren’t any more active caves of Pietra da Cantoni, so I had to recover it from construction sites and old deposits“, Gianmaria told us, “I like to work with a material that has history“.
The Pietra da Cantoni has a long heritage indeed. Its formation is traced back to the Miocene era and it is not rare to find fossils inside it. This stone has been used in traditional architecture for ages, and now Gianmaria is bringing it back to a new life, as interior decorations and as artwork. “This is the reason why I named my studio Antica Edilizia (ancient construction), I wish to create something new, but with old roots“.
Gianmaria Sabatini developed his method in order to shape this material for decorations and furnishing elements. He learned how to cut hard and friable Pietra da Cantoni, giving it a shape, matching it with others materials (cotto, tiles, bricks, majolica) through a mosaic technique. The results are impressive: thin layers of Pietra da Cantoni make wonderful designs, textures and compositions. “To my clients, it is like to have a piece of Monferrato in their living rooms“.
Every cut is a challenge, and also a surprise: sometimes you find fossils and other elements in Pietra da Cantoni. That means it is more difficult to shape it, but at the same time, it gives nuances and interesting designs to the stone. The final result is in part unpredictable – it shows throughout the creation process.
In 2008 he was awarded the Craftmanship Excellence Award as an acknowledgement of his efforts and abilities in developing a unique artisanal production.
“My entire work is inspired by Monferrato, in many ways,” Gianmaria told us. “Of course, I work with traditional materials, but the Monferrato landscape, the colours, even the people inspire me when I have to create something new“.
Now Gianmaria collaborates with a local artist to produce landscape artwork in Pietra da Cantoni: a translation of landscape into artisan handwork.
Discover more about Gianmaria Sabatini’s work by visiting his studio in Olivola or his website. If you would like to visit him in his studio please send him an e-mail to book an appointment.
Gianmaria Sabatini Antica Edilizia
Written by Tommaso Zavattaro | Edited by Fiona Scull | Photography by Monica Marescalchi