Visiting the artisans of Pernes-les-Fontaines
Unique creations made in Vaucluse
I particularly like discovering ancestral savoir-faire. I’m admirative delving into their manual aspect in a sort of exploration of what’s “authentic”. Whatever the domain, my mind goes somewhere else when I spend time with those who bring these traditions to life (again), by repairing, transforming or resuscitating objects. Today, I wanted to share with you my interest in the artisan-designers of Pernes-les-Fontaines. Especially when you can make it last longer with a workshop. Want to come with me?
PERNES-LES-FONTAINES, CITY OF ARTISANS-DESIGNERS
“Mediaeval” Pernes-les-Fontaines invites you to dream, with its streets and ramparts. From its Roman collegiate to its townhouses and tower topped by a wrought iron belfry, the little city also features a superb treasure: that of craftspersons. In autumn each year, the spotlight is put on them during the “Les Rencontres des Métiers d’Art” craft days organised by the association with the same name. As a benevolent host, the city welcomes twenty or so of them accommodated in the historical centre under a homemade name. As such, an artisan has made their home behind each entrance marked with a cat and mouse (a nod to the Clock Tower), 😉. Today, 4 of them have opened their doors for me to share their passion for unique objects. Let’s get going to make 4 stops in the world of design and restoration looking at marquetry, sculptures, jewellery and furniture upholstery. We’ll follow the suns on the ground that mark out this craftsperson and the cats in the air!
Corentin Tavernier is an artisan marquetry specialist qualified from the highly esteemed école Boulle, named after André-Charles Boulle, Louis XIV’s cabinetmaker.
What is marquetry exactly?? I can tell you that it is: “So many things! Collecting raw materials, drawing, precision cutting out, assembly, dying, painting, with a scalpel to hand permanently! … basically, a marriage of conventional and modern techniques and above all, patience!” Corentin goes more into detail, of course: “it’s the art of making decorative motifs from sheets of wood, mother of pearl, tortoiseshell (in times before), brass, pewter, ebony…”. In his workshop he has a colour palette with a total of 450 shades of wood, which according to their tannin, will colour eyes, enliven a mouth or produce a Nigella leaf as in this old writing desk that he is restoring at the moment. Corentin also has the particularity of being at the cutting edge of modernity as he makes his machines himself. You therefore find a 3D printer, a digital milling machine and a laser engraver among the jars of wax, glue and varnish, with a computer as a link between the two worlds for the precision design and visualising work to scale. There are so many things to describe! Go and have a look for yourself, as the workshop is open to all and the shop where inlaid jewellery, lights and paintings is a nice way into the subject 😊
Fall in love…
With the lights! Fine sheets of wood form the lightshade, which changes with the heat and light of the ambient light.
Address : 3 rue Raspail, Pernes-les-Fontaines
SCULPTURES BY JO.L
Joelle also organises creative workshops to discover or perfect techniques to work with clay. The clay and equipment are provided.
Address : 36 rue Gambetta, Pernes-les-Fontaines
This is a tiny little shop full of charm that I had to visit, with its mobiles and acrobats in the window.
Inside, between time-aged wood and mineral material, the ambiance is soft, bathed in a pretty natural light. Joëlle Ruillier, who is a florist and now a decorator too, brings her art to life through raw sculptures, in black or white stoneware, all sculpted by hand. Vases, bud vases, and a few pieces of tableware in enamelled terracotta sit on ceruse-finished furniture, but a host of sweet characters more than anything. These silhouettes are faceless, and placed sat down, standing up or in frozen in movement (that’s not always comfortable!) and often in the air. Two tightrope walkers are seen defying the wall and its rigid verticality here. There, a shoal of fish flies over engraved pebbles. I find the magic of the place and Joëlle Ruillier’s poetry completely charming. In addition, after spending some time in her shop, I had the impression that there were more of us in the end. All these little characters make up a joyful and ever-present tribe. I really encourage you to visit this shop and let the beauty of the materials and forms in it enchant you too.
JEWELLERY I LOVE
Sylvie Quatrefage’s G’aime shop is one of my addresses because it is where you can have your jewellery repaired or custom-made.
Sylvie designs by making individual pieces, but repairs and transforms rings and necklaces that are not worn anymore more than anything. After spending time talking things through with you, she makes your project reality and brings a previously outdated piece back into use. She mainly works with silver and gold (her favourite metal 😉) to which she adds stones when she wants. Bent over her workbench, with all sizes of pliers to hand, she meticulously laminates, shapes, accessorises and lays out the pieces. A unique design or redeeming repair is found at the end of the chain, and more than anything a customer that is happy to reconnect with their piece of jewellery. Why don’t you redesign your rings or personalise your pendants again and again too? I’ve got a few ideas already 😉.
Good to know
Sylvie is trained in jewellery-making but she is also a jeweller. The jewellery becomes a sentinel that you can continue to pass on from generation to generation, by “bringing” it back up to date 😉.
Address : : 42 rue de la République, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Good to know
Florence organises introductory courses from time to time to discover the basic gestures to use in our personal restoration projects.
Address : 35 rue Emile Zola, Pernes
In the land of furniture upholstery, canework and reseating
Another inspiring meeting and a brightly-lit place that I love, in the style of a country house. Florence Allène’s workshop is in the former primary school in Pernes, and is bathed in sunshine and filled with colourful fabrics and plant materials. Long stalks of rye straw fill baskets looking like large sticks of pink, green, red, and blue incense, and woven samples are draped over shelves and hanging rails. Florence switched to furniture upholstery as a career a few years ago and her order book is always full! She loves repairing and reusing textile pieces more than anything to create unique pieces of furniture. Today, she makes a living from her passion for old fabrics that she hunts out while antiquing, and works using traditional techniques with natural raw materials (coir and horsehair…) to reseat and restore all sorts of chairs and armchairs. In her hands, seats regain their support and splendour, like this little Napoléon III chair with a revolutionary Chinese tapestry on the sides. I love it!