Rubén García, more than 25 years of experience as a slate splitter7 July 2016
Have you ever heard about the importance of the handcrafters in the natural slate production process? It is a dual process, combining the highest technology with the traditional know-how by our skilled handcrafters.
To learn more about this career, we talked to Ruben Garcia Gonzalez, a splitter of Las Arcas 2 (located in San Pedro de Trones, Leon, Spain), one of our warehouse factories. He is 49 and has more than 25 years of experience.
What skills are required to be a good slate splitter?
The most important thing is to have patience and willingness to learn, that's what allows you to improve day by day. Nevertheless, you need to have a deep knowledge about the slates as well. As a handcrafted you have to understand the stone, which kind are you working with and how to work on them.
Of course you also need to get some skills, nobody is born with innate knowledge. Indeed, that natural slate has an important family tradition, and generally there are several generations of slate splitters in the same family, but the technique is not inherited.
Generally speaking everyone starts working in other tasks: cutting, beveling, packing... It is important to go through different positions to understand the slate properties. It took me about 3-4 years to become a slate splitter.
Thanks to these previous jobs and with time enough I got the knowledge about the slates to exfoliate them later.
So the best skills as a splitter come with constant correct practice.
How has evolved the way you work since you started?
The process is the same as when I started 25 years ago, it is handcrafted. But your personal technique does change. Your skills evolve and your experience makes you better every day.
As the slate is split by hand, you learn with the practice. The first few days an experienced splitter teaches and guides you... And then you are gradually mastering technique.
How many slate pallets do you produce a day?
It is hard to say. On average a slate splitter produces about 2 pallets a day. But I do not really keep the score. I concentrate on my job, on doing my best. The quality of the slate is what really matters, so I try to do it right.
In my opinion, a good slate splitter is the one who cares about the quality of the stone.
In your 28 years of experience working with natural slate, how has the production process changed?
Actually producing slate is such a traditional and handcrafted process that the way it is produced has barely changed since I started. The natural slate is exfoliated, beveled and selected by hand as before.
However, technology has changed: the machines we used to use are now more advanced. Sawing machines are better, and of course the safety at work has greatly improved.
What would you highlight in all these years as a natural slate splitter?
I have developed my career as a slate splitter in many places, and I am left with my moments here in CUPA PIZARRAS. Although each of us has his own role and place, we get along well with each other.
Furthermore, our manager is always willing to help us, to advise us, and that is something I really appreciate.
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