Packing up the stone

Last week on Tuesday we met Piero. Piero is a magician. On Friday he made all of our stone disappear into 4 wooden crates. I thought I knew how to pack things well. Spending a half-day with Piero loading up the crates was an opportunity to work with someone with exceptional spatial abilities. It also helps that he can operate a forklift and use two single straps a multitude of ways to lift, turn, flip and slip stone into tight spots.

I am talking with my hands because my Italian is very limited. Piero listened and then turned to Lotte (on the far right) since she speaks Italian, and German, and English…(Eirene is on the left, Tamara is taking the photo)

He came to look at the various stone we’ve collected over the 3 weeks and with a tape measurer and an exclamation of “Mama mia” we worked out a plan. Mostly in his head, as I only saw him write down the measurements of four stones. With the help of Lotte, one of the resident sculptors here, we arranged to have crates built to ship our stone home. The crates have to be built out of special wood that is stamped and certified so we don’t import any bugs in the wood.

Piero measuring stone (photo by Tamara)

It was a surprise when we arrived to the studio Friday morning to see 5 empty crates already delivered. Piero came after lunch and started to load the stone, Tamara recorded all the stone and where they went, Eirene took photos of each one (we need to supply a complete record of everything we’re exporting and importing to get us out of Italy and into the US). And no, sadly we cannot fill the spaces with wine and olive oil although we did really want to.

Part of the stack of stone that had to go in the crates.
Loading the biggest block which barely fit in the crate. That’s Tamara taking recording all the stone.
Finishing the third crate.

On Monday Piero will return to fill the final crate with our sculpture. This one is packed a bit more carefully. We’ve not finished anything too far and this is one of the reasons why. All of the in-process sculpture will go in the fifth crate. We still get a few days to sculpt on some small pieces before we leave at the end of this week (how did time go this quickly?). At the end of the week, we’ll put them in the last crate before it’s closed up.

Three of the five crates filled and nearly ready to go.

We’ve been working with our shipping agent in the US and his counterpart in Italy who has responded graciously to my many questions with patience after noting, “your first time buying stone in Italy to take home?”. “Si, but hopefully not my last,” I replied.

This week we will spend a little less time sculpting and more time recording all the stone and their dimensions and types. Then we’ll get the final dimensions of the crates and the weights, sign off on the shipping documents, and arrange for a truck to come and pick it up to take it to the outgoing Port. We won’t see our sculptures again for about 6 weeks when they arrive in Seattle and we truck our crates to Whidbey Island to unpack them.

As exciting as this part is, it’s also real reminder that our time here is coming swiftly to an end. We have a few more days to enjoy stone dust and our new stone sculpting family at Studio Pescarella, so we will focus on that instead.

More soon, ciao!

9 thoughts on “Packing up the stone

    • Jerry-all the folks at the studio have been involved in the Pietrasanta stone sculpting community for 20-30 years so they’ve shared a lot of stories with us about “the old days” when the town was full of studios and there was so much sculpting going on. It’s certainly not like that now but we’ve been lucky to find such an awesome studio full of welcoming and talented sculptors.


  • Enjoy your last few days with the stone!! Then, hope you have a few more wonderful adventures traveling with Jan.


    • Thanks Shannon, I’m enjoying the days this week working on small models that I can slip into the last crate right before the truck comes on Friday. Then I’ll switch gears to being a tourist!


  • Where has the month gone?! I remember your excitement about the trip when we saw you in the cold of your studio on Whidbey. I certainly feel as though I have an emotional investment in your stones and look forward to seeing them and you.
    Safe travels


    • No kidding Gist, it seems like we were just getting started and now we’re having to pack up. Our studio friends say “4 weeks isn’t long enough,” so we’ll see about that!


  • Oh my! The time has gone so fast. When I travel, the first week always seems so long, because everything is new and different and so exciting. Then time starts to speed up and before you know it, your trip is over. I’m so glad that it has been such a great trip, and I can’t wait to see the crates when they arrive in Freeland. Touching the stone will be a tiny (very tiny) bit like getting to go to Italy myself.



  • Logistics is key…..they say that it took Michelangelo months to pack and ship his personally selected blocks to Rome to ensure they arrived in pristine condition….safe trip home to you all!


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