tombstone-tours-2012-thailand-and-china-part-2-photo.3.jpgI recently had the chance to visit Thailand and China with my colleague John Provines, owner of VJ Memorials in Chino, CA. To read about the first half of our trip, read Thailand and China, Part 1.

After visiting beautiful cemeteries and memorials in Thailand, we left for Xiamen, China and our 8th visit to the 12th annual Xiamen Stone Fair. This year there were over 1500 exhibiting companies from 52 countries. The attendees included 127,000 industry professionals, over 23,000 of whom came from 148 overseas countries! The showground covered more than 375,000 square feet for the collection of international vendors and purchasers to explore.


This year was a bit less extravagant than last year, probably because of a slowing world economy, but it was still a valuable learning experience for anyone in the stone industry.  Quarrying and manufacturing machinery, tile, and dimensional slabs, sculpture and cladding stone were all represented by hundreds of eager suppliers.  


The halls were packed full with visitors from around the world.  Several US companies attended as both buyers and sellers and so while there were interpreters available, most companies had English speaking persons on staff at their booths.


I always enjoy seeing the latest in stone art as well as the advances in technology for working with stone.  Following are some highlights of the displays. 

The exhibit booths showed a variety of uses for stone, such as carved artwork or natural stone planters for  bonsai trees and flowers. And, of course, there were displays of tools for use in stonework such as diamond blades, drills and polishing pads for granite and marble finishing.


These translucent architectural panels are made from unique natural stone sliced very thin with lights behind them to emphasize the beauty of the stone. Another vendor showcased water jet cutouts (picture on right) that could be used as elegant artwork and entry panels in shops and high end homes.


One of my favorites was a mosaic portrait made entirely of very small granite and marble tiles.


They also had some new computer controlled routers that would intricately carve marble and other softer stones in minute detail as shown below.


There was a lot of creative sculptural artwork.


And there were practical pieces like this solid granite rocking horse.  Though it wouldn’t be good to have your child’s toes caught under this 300 lb. piece!


We saw some cool computer driven machinery for diamond routing marble carvings and other softer rocks, though they generally don’t work at all for carving granite.  There were also nice splitters for making pavers and some pretty neat and quite inexpensive laser engravers.  Unfortunately the electrical systems are not normally compatible with our voltage in the United States and breakdowns are usually very difficult to repair. 


For us however the main attractions were the tombstones.  There were many different varieties displayed for cemeteries around the world.  


We had some fun days nosing around all the exhibits. I’m already looking forward to going again next year.