The American School of French Marquetry has just concluded its first decade of operation. It has been a very promising start. We have three full time teachers and classes that are well attended and have exceeded our expectations in results. I found myself looking back and reflecting on the significance of our work and what the future may hold.
First of all, we have continued the teaching methods and materials which were used at ecole Boulle by Dr. Pierre Ramond. We are the only school in North America to offer this program. We also have successfully introduced the chevalet de marqueterie, which is a Parisian marquetry tool unknown previously in this country. (I know that there were a few French workers who actually owned and used such a tool, in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, but they did not make its use public.) I was actually encouraged by Dr. Ramond to introduce the technology to this country.
We have had several hundred students over the past decade, from all countries. Students from Europe, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Philippines, New Zealand, Korea and all across America have sat on our chevalets for the first time and been introduced to a new method of making marquetry art. We have had all ages, from very young to very old, men and women. Every one was able to successfully complete the projects.
By making kits available for the chevalet, we have made it easy for the graduate to build their own custom "chevy" and continue working in their own workshop. Nearly 50 kits have been sold in ten years. That may not seem like a lot, but I consider that number amazing. When we started, I actually thought, "Who would want to do this?" I mean, I love it, but I am a little eccentric.
The personalities of the students who attend classes is diverse. Of course we have professional and amateur wood workers, both at the start of their career and at those who have spent their life pursuing the craft. In addition, we have had corporate executives, brain surgeons, Formula 1 race car drivers (retired), artists, housewives, nurses, museum conservators, teachers, and others who I cannot classify in normal terms.
They all share one thing in common: excitement and amazement at learning something completely new. Me too.