Luis Vázquez Guntín works with stone since – at least – 30 years. This experience in the craft enables him to carry out works going from the exploitation of the quarry to the actual final placement onsite, going through all the processes in between where the material is transformed. He carries out the following activities:
– Extraction of the granitic gneiss at the quarry.
– Elaboration of elements manufactured by natural cut: curbs, coping stones, lintels, window ledges, jambs, large tiles, columns, bond stones…
– Manufacture of structural elements (masonry elements, dressed stones, ashlars, columns, arches…) with specific finishes such as the one resulting from pointing, bush hammering, with a flame treatment, with a sandblasting treatment…
– Elaboration of unique elements: columns, cornices, chimneys, balusters, coats of arms, gargoyles, staircases, sculptures, funerary art…
– Placing of structural elements: rubblework, masonry, dressed stones and bond stones.
– Placing of unique elements.
– Placing of flooring, paving stones, mosaics and finishings.
– Rehabilitation and restoration of goods of traditional architecture and belonging to heritage, including furnaces, cruceiros, churches, foxos del lobo, pinnacles…
Regarding the techniques and process he uses:
– He carries out the extraction of the stone material (gneiss) using explosives (pressed gunpowder, detonating cord…) which he places in the perforations which have been previously done in the stone terraces with drilling machines. Once the explosion has taken place, the blocks are divided according to the different needs, cutting them with special drills and splitting wedges and shims, by hitting them with special maces.
– The elaboration of non-carved elements is carried out placing marks on the block in the precise direction according to the natural direction of the stone, and bearing in mind the required measurements of the element which they have been requested to manufacture. One marked, and with the use of drilling hammers, he carries out a series of holes along the cutting line, to after hit the stone along those lines with the mace.
– The manufacture of structural elements is carried out using traditional stonemason techniques, such as cutting, straightening, roughing, aligning with squares, template marking,…using the tools which are characteristic of the craft (chisels, bull point chisels, stonemason’s pickaxes, stone masonry axe…). Lastly, he gives the element the required finish after the cutting. In all the phases of the process he also uses mechanical means such as grinding cutter machines, pneumatic hammers,…with their own associated tools.
– In the preparation of unique elements, he designs the stone element for its template marking or marking of the adequate points according to the plan. The cutting process is carried out with mechanized or manual means, and so is the roughing of the inert parts of the piece. For the roughing and carving of the details according to the required shape, he uses traditional stonemason tools (bull point chisels, chisels, tooth chisels, bush hammers), with which he carries out the vast majority of the work. He also uses manual cutting tools, pneumatic hammers with their different associated tools, polishing machines, etc.
– For the placing of structural elements, he follows the instructions established in the architectural project, carrying out the site layout, marking, fixing levelling rods and then proceeding to start placing the stone elements, following the established order according to the type of material which is to be placed, the system (hammer dressed masonry, bond stones, etc.) and the joining techniques (aligning, levelling…). In the placement of unique elements the process is rather similar, with the only particularity that it is important to safeguard the joining points. The fixing systems, mortars…are also incorporated.
– In the placing of tiles, cobblestones, flooring and claddings, the procedure which is carried out goes according to the instructions stated in the project. The ground and the supporting elements are first prepared for the later placement of the required stone material. Depending on the material, they use different techniques and materials for placing the pieces as specified in the project as well as the mortar which is required.
Today, there are many types of machinery and tools which can carry out in a more efficient and cost-effective way the vast majority of the operations relating to cutting and carving of stone than with manual methods and means. However, mastering the manual techniques of carving stone, as a result of the real knowledge of natural stone, enables the stonemason to carry out all sorts of works, obtaining higher-quality elements when it comes to carving moulds, artistic forms, etc. This stone can be previously pre-prepared with the aid of machinery. Likewise, the knowledge of manual methods and carving tools is indispensable when it comes to interventions regarding the conservation and restoration of historic buildings.
Luis Vázquez Guntín’s professional experience in the field of stone started in Switzerland in the year 1984. There, he worked at a quarry of granitic gneiss. It is during this period when he learnt all about the methods and techniques to extract stone from the quarry. In 1986 he started at a new company, Graniti Pollini, where he elaborated all sorts of stone products for construction. During those years, he learnt all about cutting techniques and stone work, which is necessary for the elaboration of rustic elements, unique elements destined preferably to restoration of buildings of high architectural value and heritage, coatings of façades and floorings, funerary art, etc.
In Switzerland, in the year 1994 and whilst he was also working, he attended a higher professional training course in masonry (scalpellino) with a total duration of three years. As a complement to his professional training in Switzerland he also worked at a restoration business dedicated to restoring traditional dwellings, starting a new learning process where he learnt how to place all sorts of stone materials.
After 14 years in Switzerland he returned to Spain in the year 2000 and since then and until now he has delivered classes on stone work, masonry and placing of natural stones in different professional training centres in Galicia.
Elaboration of structural elements – and unique ones as well – at the Church of Mogno, Switzerland.
Archaeological reconstruction of a foxo do lobo dating from the 15th century, in Bande, Ourense.
Restoration of furnaces and traditional dwellings in natural environments.