The coral is used both as a precious stone and in the creation of artistic and ornamental objects. There are two manufacturing sectors: the “smooth” and the “lithography”.
CORAL MAKING'S TECHNIQUES
The smoot is a serial makign and in the past this tecnique was distinguished in: “round” and “manufactured articles”.
Smoot making means to make handmade articles used to jewellery, that take geometrical forms, thanks tom the removsal of material by saws, greeding wheels, files and so on…
The finishing is made by sifting or by wax finishing.
Chosing unprocessed coral: the unprocessed finished material is washed and then divided depending on its size, shape and colour, to make the better choice of its use. The rough has a particular terminology , that depends on the coral’s size , that are “terraglio”, thin branches; “terraglione”, bigger branches; “barbaresco”, branches with 4-5mm of diameter; “body”, branches with more than 55mm of diameter; “mostra”, the biggest part of a coral; “paccottiglia”, in the past it was made on a wood table; at first by carving the coral with a triangular steel file, and then the coral was carved deeply with a serrated sword; finally it was cut off with big tongs.
Nowadays the coral is cut by using a thin diamond disc. Jigging: the coral, already cut, us divided into groups and selected by colours, and goes through a series of jigs on a brass bottom, with some holes of different sizes, to obtain lots of different sizes. Drilling: in the past a little arc-drill with a steel point; was used the coral was perforated in two different ways: the first is called “passatoio”, the coral was perforated right through to be stringed in a necklace; the second one is called “mezzobuco”, it is the case of buttons, little balls, or pendulum fixed on pins. Nowadays are used electric motors are used.
Smoothing: in this phase, the coral, stringed in an iron thread stiffly stretched, is roughed on a sandstone wheel.
Sharpening: it is the modelling. “manufactured articles” were made round using a big wheel, which was hand operated. For the “round” they gave the finishing touch with a hardened steel file, called “quadrella”, to improve the shape of the little ball. Nowadays these tools are electric. Depurating the colour to give the coral its natural colour and to make it more bright. The cleaning is made by dipping the coral in hydrogen peroxide. Finishing: in the past corals were put into cloth bags or into barrels and shock horn, together to exploit the abrasive action of these substances. Nowadays the finishing is made with barrels with an electric motor. Stock: corals are further selected depending on size, colour and quality. Stringing: already assorted are stringed into threads of different length.
OLD AND MODERN WAYS OF CORAL MAKING
FRANGE: threads composed by thin branches of coral, long from 5 to 50 mm long, holed in a horizontal way, near one of the two extremities; the corals’length lowers from the centre to the extremities.
SPEZZATI: threads composed by little branches of coral, long from 4 to 10 mm long and holed in the centre in a horizontal way.
ROCCHIELLI: little threads of coral thicker than the “spezzati”, straight and with slightly round edges.
CUPOLINI: they are like “rocchielli”, but with completely round edges .
MEZZI FINITI: little trunks like the “cupolini”, but they are manufactured in the middle to reduce the thickness. In this way there was a bigger adherence and joint among the corals, to make the series thicker.
FINITI: another making of “mezzi finiti”; thanks to this making we have two little balls linked. In the middle there is a hole for threading.
CANNETTINE: little straight branches, with different sizes and thickness. They are smoothed down so that they have a cylindrical shape. They are holed in a longitudinal way.
MEZZANIA: they are like the “cannettine”, but very short ( no more than 6 mm ), with round edges.
CHIATTELLE: coral washers, more or less thick, with round edges.
BOTTICELLE: cylinder of coral, with edges a little bit long from 45 to 240 cm.
OLIVETTE: olive shaped, corals more or less lengthened.
CORPETTI: little spheres of coral, not long as the “botticelle”.
CORPI: they are like the “corpetti”, but a little bit bigger ( 4-5 mm of diameter).
FILOTTI: today called “coral of factory”. They have a shape like the “corpi ”, but they are bigger.
TONDO: little spheres.
MAOMETTI: little trunks, from 3 to 5 cm long and thick about 8 mm. Thick they are holed in a longitudinal way. Today not all these ways of making are in use.
COLLETTI: threads of “spezzati”, 18 cm long.
SCIARPE: “spezzati” and “rocchieli” about 120 cm long.
FILI DI GROSSEZZA: in this thread the biggest corals of the manufactured lot were assembled.
MAZZI DI GROSSEZZA: branches composed by a thickness thread and 24 threads, with the same shape and size.
CODINI: little threads, which assembled few big beads of coral.
CAPORESTI: branches of threads, from 6 to 12 mm of thickness, in which every bead weights 250 gr.
FILI ACCODATI: threads with corals of the same cutting, put in a decreasing order from the middle to the two extremities.
FILI UGUALI: threads with coral of the same cutting and size.
With the lithography of the coral we can obtain handmades with different shapes and, even if it’s impossible to foresee the shape of the coral and it’s difficult to transform it, we sometimes obtain real sculptures. The lithography, like in the case the of the “smooth making ”, is made by removing some material.In this working we use in addition to saws, wheels, files, others tools that do their work precisely, such as burins and cutters.
The cutters are electronic, but they are made in different materials and they also have different sizes. The most used have steel axles and the head made of tungsten carbide or emery or diamond. The burins are very sharp little chisels very sharp with a great handle. They are used with a little duster, that helps the intaglio workers to slide the blande correctly. Inside the electronic cutters make it easier and accelerate the removal of the material, but the results aren’t like those of the making with the burins.