A centuries-old skill
The lava enameller practices enamelling, a technique which allows a support to be covered with a vitreous layer; pigments are fixed to the support by firing at a temperature close to 960°C. Lava is the only type of stone that can be enamelled.
This ancestral savoir-faire, several centuries old, is now recognised as an art form, halfway between the art of stonework and the art of fire. Behind the rigour and meticulousness that enamelling on lava imposes, the secret of this craft is undoubtedly “passion”.
The achievements of many lava enamellers have spanned the centuries. From the unique to the spectacular, each of them tells us a part of history, leaving us stunned by their preserved beauty.
The Auvergne chain of volcanoes is made up of more than 80 volcanoes that are now extinct. Erupting thousands of years ago, lava flows filled our valleys, the best known being the Volvic valley. It was Guettard, a Parisian naturalist, who was the first to recognise the volcanic nature of the Volvic stone in 1752.
But long before, in the middle of the 12th century, monks opened underground quarries in this lava flow. Some of the quarried stone was used in 1248 for the construction of Clermont-Fd cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic art, which has never needed to be restored until today!
History also tells us that the first attempt to enamel this volcanic stone dates from 1827. Today, this stone is extracted from open-air quarries, and can be cut, carved, engraved and… enamelled!
A brief summary of its discovery:
– 1791, first patent for enamelling stones by Louis François Ollivier.
– Dès 1822, use of Volvic lava in Paris thanks to Chabrol de Volvic. Enamelling of glass and lava by L.Luton. Work on enamelling by Dutrieux.
– 25 août 1824, laying of the first stone of the St Vincent de Paul church in Paris. Enamelling of a Domite tile by Barruel (Sorbonne laboratory).
First enamel painting on lava by Ferdinand Mortelecque: an old man’s head.
– 1828, decision to adopt enamelled lava for the street signs of Paris.
First contract for street signs for Paris awarded to the Hachette company, which later joined forces with Brosson.
– 1833, project for a polychrome decoration in enamelled lava for the church of St Vincent de Paul in Paris, by Hittorff.
– 2 février 1860, end of the enamelled lava decoration of St Vincent de Paul.
Over the years, enamelled lava has been used in many ways: in artistic and decorative frescoes on church walls, in facade panelling such as the wonders of the Samaritaine, in signage such as Paris street signs or Michelin markers, or even in wayfinding panels overlooking the most beautiful sites.
Today, enamelled lava combines aesthetics, functionality and technicality, all of which are assets that validate its status as a top-of-the-range material. Thanks to its numerous characteristics, enamelled lava is used in many sectors such as interior design, decoration, furniture creation…
It can be used as a worktop in a kitchen, made into a solid washbasin in a bathroom, as tabletops in large hotels and restaurants, or as a unique artistic design piece…
– High resistance to stains and chemicals
– High resistance to scratching
– High resistance to frost
– High resistance to heat
– High UV resistance colours don’t change over time
– Indoor / outdoor use
– Very hygienic ne retient pas les bactéries
– Very easy to use Simply wash with a sponge or cloth
use soap, multi-surface cleaner, white vinegar or household alcohol
The fine cracks on the surface, called “crazing”, are an inherent characteristic of the enamel. This aspect is more or less visible depending on the different colours. It will always be visible but can also be accentuated.
Crazing is created after the firing, when the glaze cools down. As the glaze has a higher expansion coefficient than the lava, the difference in shrinkage causes these fine cracks to appear.
Crazing is the signature of enamelled lava.
It all begins with a sketch, a plan, a schema to be carried out.
The journey continues in one of the quarries at the foot of our Auvergne volcanoes.
Each lava flow has its own colour, texture and porosity.
The flows of the Puy de la Nugère gave birth to the Volvic lava, those of the Puy de Sancy to the Mont Dore lava and the Puy de Dôme and Côme to the Chambois lava.
All these lava flows, although different, offer the same technical characteristics that all lava stone has; the main ones being the high resistance to thermal, meteorological and atmospheric variations.
After selecting the type of lava suitable for the project, blocks are extracted and then transported to the workshop at the foot of the Puy de Dôme, to begin shaping, machining and sculpting.
The lava arrives in blocks.
After a first preliminary cutting with wire, slices are cut according to the thickness required for the project.
The stone is then shaped until the desired piece is produced. The shaping can be done by NC (numerical control) or manually, depending on the complexity of the piece.
The combination of machines and human hands allows us to produce pieces of great precision, with fine finishes, where artisanal methods make the real difference.
With the stone shaped; work on the lava can begin…
*Preparing the stone of enamelling – After meticulous washing, a drying period is required. Then the slip is applied to the entire surface to be enamelled (this is necessary for a perfectly smooth and uniform glazing.) Again, a drying period is necessary.
*Firing[phase 1] – time can vary between 6 to 12 hours depending on the pieces to be fired. Solid piece, specific glazing etc…
*Enamelling the lava – after careful preparation of the colour, it is time to use the gun, the cruet and the brush! This is a technique that is mastered over the course of many projects and years.
*Firing [phase 2] – once again a firing is necessary to fuse the enamel and the lava. Firing times can vary, as can the temperature curves.
*Quality control – after each firing, the pieces are examined to check the quality of the finished piece. If necessary, additional glazing and firing is carried out to rectify any imperfections.
A volcanic project is
An eruption of ideas
A flow of lava
An eruption of enamel
An intense fusion
An unique achievement
Top of the range creations
Combining artisanal know-how, natural materials, high technicality, sensitivity to the smallest detail… Our creations have earned their place in the high end market.
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