Slate Textures And What Is Slate Made Of? – Slateplate
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Slate Textures

What is Slate made of?

Slate is a fine-grain, foliated metamorphic rock formed under extreme pressure and heat conditions from sedimentary rocks such as shale, clay or ash. What that means is that slate is made by literally crushing and melting other softer rocks together, which is called metamorphosis. When compacted, these softer rocks merge their qualities to create super-strong slate! The natural bands you see in our slate are called folation, the scientific term for when different kinds of rock are fused together. Since they are different from one another, they create layers like in a cake- but this cake is held together by molten lava! Below is a list of many of the textures you may see in our slate.

Please keep in mind these images are CLOSE UPS and that the actual markings in our slate cheese trays will be much more subtle and your surface will be generally smooth and uniform!

Texture: Fine Grain. Most of our slates will have a smooth, fine grain surface for the primary portion of the face. What makes our slates unique and equally interesting is the subtle characteristics such as those found below. Most slates will incorporate one or more of the following texture variations, but be sure to remember, these are very close-up images and no matter how much texture variation they have, the primary surface of all of our slates is generally smooth and flat.

Texture: Waves. Natural slate forms through the high pressure and heat compaction of different layers of rock over the course of a very long time. WHen those layers settle, they follow the natural grade of what they are settling on. ADditionally, when exposed to the pressure of the earth itself, the rock will bend and wave. In some instances you will find evidence of this natural formation in our slate. We call it waving and it creates subtle and unique pattern.Texture: Bands. Banding is the natural folation of slate; that is the literal layers of shale, clay and ash which have been fused together under extreme pressure and heat to create the super-strong rock that is slate. Most of our slates will have some form of banding or striping in them and this is part of what makes each slate so beautiful and unique. THe darkest bands are typically compacted volcanic ash set against smooth shale. Bands can range in width and direction, but they are usually found in smooth straight lines.Texture: Stripes. Striping is a more distinct and thinner version of banding. Stripes occur when different layers of rock are compressed much closer together thereby creating straight, parallel lines in the face of the slate. Many of our slates will have some form of stripes or bands and they are typically straight tranverse lines with a minor crenallations on their surface. They also tend to occur in multiples when present; for in-stance one stripe is much more rare than say three or more. Stripes are one more aspect that help make your slate unique.Texture: Ridges. Ridges occur at the points on the face of a slate where the natural layers formed through intense heat and pressure have been split apart. When slate is quarried, it is broken off in huge cubes and then split down into large thin sheets. During this process the slate, like any material, naturally seperates at its weakest points of contact. In the case of ridges, that seperation occurs where two layers of different rock were pressued together. THe result is an attractive accent to your slate known as a ridge line!Texture: Crenellations. Crenelations are very minor ridges that occur over a relatively straight or uniform line on the face of a slate. Crenellating is effectively a lot of very small ridges banded together and almost always occurs on stripes in the slate. This is due to the fact that the stripes are actually finely compacted ash and this layer releases easier than the more rigid shale when the slate is split. The result is a unque textured line that runs tranversely across the face of the slate and once again makes your slate like no other!Texture: Ribbons. A ribbon is a very thin fault line where during the slate's formation the rock above or below slipped. In some rocks, a fault can be a point of weakness but in slate they are not. Ribbons occur rarely so it is highly unlikely to find more than one ribbon on any given slate. Some people say ribbons look like the slate has been 'glued together', which to some degree is true... But it was glued together with molten lava! About one in fifty of our slates will have a ribbon, so consider yourself lucky if you get one!Texture: Pyrite (fool's gold). The most rare thing you will find in our slate is a pyrite deposit. Pyrite, also known as fool's gold, is a golden crystaline material found in all of our slate (it is what helps make it black); however, actual visible depositcs are extremely rare. About one in a few hundred slates will have a pyrite deposit that is visible. We cull slates with a deposit on the face because it effects the flatness of our product, but if you are lucky enough to get some on an edge or on the back of the slate, we'll leave that for you to be amazed at!Texture: Thin edging. Our slate are well known for their relatively uniform edges. Since we use such a high quality slate, it is much less brittle than the slate used by most of the others on the market. The more brittle the slate, the more extensive the breakage is on the edges. On the edges of a slate, you can literally see the hundreds of layers of rock which have been pressed together under extreme conditions. Like any natural rock, the larger our slates get, the thicker the edging will become.Texture: Thick edging. Thick edging is simply a location where the same layer as the face has split off in a slightly larger piece until it reaches the next stable layer. It does not weaken the slate nor cause any problems, in fact it usually ensures that no more chips will occur. Even the thickest edges on our slates are generally much smaller than any others available on the market. Keep in mind, the larger (and thicker) the size of the slate, the more likely for that slate to have thick edging.Texture: Corners. Each and every slate we offer has been hand cut. Buffed, ground, and sanded in our shop. Our goal as a manufacturer (and artist!) is to offer uniform corners on all of our slates. During this process the slate technicians will determine what is the most uniform and visually pleasing layout for the corners on any given slate. We generally abide by a code of making the corners as 'square' as possible. But it is equally important to make sure they are rounded enough so as not to be sharp or chipped if hit against something.