Transforming lava stone into artwork

April 1, 2005
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For 50 years, Siciliana Lavica of Belpasso, Catania, has been quarrying and working the natural lava stone from Mount Etna's eruption of 1669. And in addition to standard and custom-cut tiles, the company produces architectural and carved pieces.

The company produces interior and exterior flooring as well as ornamental pieces such as pillars, capitals, fountains, pool copings and other architectural details, and it extracts stone from a site that is adjacent to the industrial plant.

Blocks are taken from the quarry in boulder form and are trimmed on a Pellegrini wire saw. After trimming, the blocks are cut into strips as needed on Pedrini blockcutters, and the company recently purchased a complete Pedrini tile line with 12 polishing heads, representing the latest technology in the marketplace.

While the Pedrini line is used for repetitive tiles, workers use a range of smaller saws for custom, multi-sized tile patterns. The patterns are specified for both indoor and outdoor applications, and they are also being used in both homes and commercial projects. The company also processes thick pavers, and stone is available in a range of textures - from bushhammered and rough-faced finishes to a completely polished surface.

The production rate varies, depending on customer demand and what type of work is being specified, and the company directly exports much of its production. Spain is currently a strong market for Siciliana Lavica, and it has also sold its production to the U.S. market.

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