The manufacture of terra cotta is a process with specific stages, needs and time constraints. Boston Valley strives to help our clients understand this process by maintaining an open dialogue throughout production to ensure the successful completion of each project.
Raw materials for our clay recipes are delivered in dry powder form. Boston Valley sources all the clays used from North America. Each recipe is dry batched according to the current formula by a computer-controlled cart that is calibrated quarterly.
All masonry units, no matter their forming method, pass through the finishing department and the hands of a Boston Valley sculptor. Any textures are added in the finishing department so that the new piece replicates the historic sample or approved new construction unit in all aspects of shape and texture. Extremely detailed ornament is carved into or onto the units by our talented sculptors. The finishing department is also responsible for adding any slots for anchoring, identifying mortar indents, and making any final modifications before the piece is dried.
Drying & Glaze Application
Upon completion in the finishing department, units are loaded into the driers. The driers are temperature and humidity controlled to ensure a proper drying rate and thus prevent cracking. Those projects that have specified a glaze finish are then taken to the glaze application department. The glazing department utilizes various application techniques to achieve the range of finished appearances and topographies required to replicate historic glaze finishes or create new unique finishes.
Our facility houses six large gas-fired kilns. Because the product can vary in volume from piece to piece, Boston Valley has the capability to customize our hearth structure when needed. This allows us to provide such a wide range of custom shapes, with depths that vary from as thin as 5/8″ for Guastavino tiles, all the way up to 4 foot wide masonry units. As with any ceramic product, terra cotta units demonstrate a color range when fired because of the small differences in temperature from the top to bottom and left to right of the kiln. These variations are inherent to this natural material formed of substances mined from the earth., adding to the beauty of the finished product.