"Geno" Castonguay carefully adjusts a small component of the mold for a corner block.
Making the blocks
The "casting" crew at The North Brookfield, Massachusetts, shop shows us how the unique designs of Frank Lloyd Wright's textile blocks are made real. Led by master preservation mason, Ken Uracius, the team has spent almost two years perfecting the process. The molds had to be constructed from the original drawings, but the mixture of ingredients had to be made to meet improved design standards that would add strength and life to the resulting blocks.
After a fair amount of trial and error, Teflon was eventually selected for use in the molds to create the shapes and perforations. Many of the standard design parts were machined at the nearby shop of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, and the chief mold maker, Eugene "Geno" Castonguay, assembled the parts with demanding accuracy.
Natural cement was chosen over the more commonly used Portland cement for several reasons, but one of the most important is its rapid set-up time: two hours, versus 24.
The molds are filled on a vibrating table to ensure quick and complete settling, and newly finished blocks are submerged in water for controlled curing that prevents cracks and checks.