What Is Pyrolave
100% natural and sustainable, Pyrolave is made from ancient and unique Volvic lava which has been extracted from our quarry in central France. As tough as stone, with all the durability and beauty of enamel, it is chemically inert (will never burn, stain or erode) and can be coloured every shade imaginable.
Volvic Lava has a celebrated architectural history in France, with many cathedrals, municipal buildings and public places all being constructed from the material in its unglazed state. Glazed lava was developed more recently in the 19th Century and many orientation signs, including those at the Art Nouveau Paris Metro, can still be seen today.
Our own journey started over 35 years ago with the creation of Pyrolave when we set out to achieve an exemplary product within an environmentally-sustainable framework. Since then, we have formed a manufacturing process with impeccable standards of quality, identified countless different applications and over 6,000 bespoke colours.
To give our clients complete confidence in our service, we asked a wide range of national laboratories and test centres to subject Pyrolave to a comprehensive round of testing to prove its remarkable qualities. Please download our technical data sheet for further information.
The beauty of Pyrolave is in its organic beginnings and specialist finish. As a natural stone, no two pieces of Pyrolave are ever the same, each having its own distinctive character. Our enamelling process adds a lustrous depth of colour, where clients have the freedom to specify a bespoke hue or choose from our core collection of shades. It’s also during this glazing process that two of Pyrolave’s signature characteristics are formed. Firstly, the enamel becomes semi-liquid and the surface tension changes the thickness of the glaze, creating a gentle gradient around the edges. Secondly, as the temperature drops from 1000°C, different contracting rates create Pyrolave’s most celebrated attribute: its signature surface crazing.
Extracting Volvic Lava Stone
There is a long history of extracting lava stone, and we are proud to continue the tradition in a responsible, environmentally-friendly way. Random-sized boulders of lava are carefully lifted from our quarry by crane, following the natural fault lines and shrinkage cracks. The blocks are sliced into scants by diamond-tipped saws, which are then sent to our factory for the final stages of the process: refined cutting and glazing.
Glazing and Finishing
Honing Volvic lava stone into the smooth, signature slabs of Pyrolave is a rigorous process that is examined at every turn. First, rough-sized Scants arrive from the quarry at our factory where they are shaped using CNC and water-jet cutting technology, then hand-finished to ensure impeccable quality. Microscopic holes on the surface are then identified and filled to ensure perfect adhesion of the enamel and the subsequent mirror-glaze finish.
The glazing process then begins with an eight-hour firing, which puts enormous stress on the stone. This is a form of quality control in itself, as only the pieces that prove their strength and stability are approved for sanding and polishing. A glaze undercoat is applied and left to dry naturally, which is followed by a hand-painted layer of coloured enamel.
The pieces return to the computer-controlled kilns for a second and longer firing cycle at temperatures over 1000˚C. This fuses the glaze to the stone and often creates a beautiful colour gradient around the edges, then as the stone cools, Pyrolave’s signature crazing begins to appear.
Finally, the finished slabs of Pyrolave are grouped together for their last and therefore meticulous quality control inspection before being placed into rigid wooden crates, packed card and foam separators, and sent to our clients all over the globe.
We pride ourselves on upholding and respecting the highest environmental standards, and our quarry is rigorously monitored both by our experts and governing bodies.
Before we can even break earth at our quarry in Volvic, there is a two-year study of each extraction area. The result is an Administrative Authorisation for Extraction within a Classified Zone file, which details:
-The analysis and control of direct, indirect, temporary and permanent effects upon the environment
-A landscape study
-A noise, dust and vibration analysis
-Hydro-geologic and hydrologic evaluations
-Proof that there is no risk of pollution due to hydrocarbon, organic or mineral waste
The successful grant of an authorisation file also demands two compulsory requirements: to undertake further regular environmental impact studies and to complete site restoration processes after extraction.
There is also a regulated annual extraction limit, which is the equivalent of an area 50 sqm x 10m high, and in accordance with this, we guarantee a yearly yield of 10,000-20,000 sqm over a 20 year period.
In addition, our quarry is actually situated over a flow zone of mineral waters which is owned by the multinational and environmentally-conscious food company Danone, who produce Volvic bottled water. Together, we ensure that the entire site is in strict accordance with all rules and regulations.
Pyrolave Architecture Services
We bring over 35 years of experience to every project ensuring that each stage of the process is smooth and successful. Our complete service includes consultation, quotation, maintaining direct links to the production floor, sampling, on-site measuring, handling and finally installation.