Sunday, October 24, 2010

ASFM Class of 2010

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.


Peri said...

As one of your students at ASFM I can attest to the pure fun of taking the classes. To acquire the skills needed to create such glorious artwork in wood was something I did not believe I would be able to accomplish at even the rudimentary level of a raw beginner. I was simply (wait for it...)"Boulled" over when in a mere week of classes I created something not only pretty to the eye, but something I can be proud of showing others. I do not think there is enough money in San Diego County, CA, to get me to give up my chevalet -- neither the one I was so lucky to get from you nor the one I have the plans for and may someday actually take the time to build.
Kudoes for all the great instruction to all your students. The ASFM is, simply, the best. Congrats on the first's to many more. Merci beaucoup, Patrick!

W. Patrick Edwards said...

The most interesting comment you made is that the class is "pure fun". I must admit that, for me personally, teaching students about the "art and mystery" of ancient methods is really fun. When there are no classes, I restore and make interesting pieces of furniture, which has been my job for over 40 years. I enjoy it, and I am good at it, but it is still my "job".

When I have classes, I just play. Nothing is greater than being a student in Paris. The greatest thrill in my life will always be living in Paris and learning something. When I have students here I am reliving the same experience, but with a better climate.

After class last Friday, Patrice, Kristen and I sat around with the students and had coffee and talked. Patrice's beautiful wife, Agnes, brought a French gateau she had baked and we devoured it.

I need to schedule more classes next year.