Monday, January 31, 2011

Porte Ouvert 2011

One of the great consequences of the internet age is the ability to have strangers around the world share common interests. I know the movie industry has discovered this. I expect the movie about facebook to win an oscar. Who would have thought, just a decade ago, that you could tweet or unfriend someone?

I have only blogged (again, a modern concept!) for a few months, but I am amazed at the international response I have received. I imagine my words as just a few data drops in the immense ocean of internet content, but people have found me, just like a message in a bottle is picked up on the other side of the world by a stranger. It boggles the mind.

One of these kind souls is Filip Tanghe, and I believe he lives in Brussels. He also attended a Stage at ecole Boulle and returns each year, when he can, to tour the open house. This year he offered to take some photos for me, since I am not able to make the trip. Looking at the photos I am filled with warm memories of my years in school in Paris, nearly 2 decades ago.

I knew that when Gabriel Fuchs replaced Pierre Ramond there would be changes. I heard that Mr. Fuchs wanted to "modernize" the atelier and invite more contemporary work from his students. Pierre was always passionate about the past, and admired the great works from the 18th century, as well as supporting newer ideas.

I had no idea that the school would tear down the entire wing of the building and start over!

The school is built in a large "U" shape, with a courtyard in the center. The original wing still stands in place, with the names of great ebenistes posted in tiles on the outside wall. The front wing is now draped in construction scaffolding and I assume will also be modernized. The wing which housed the marquetry workshops on the 6th floor, as well as the finishing workshops and other classes, has been replaced by a modern glass structure. All the classrooms are new.

In addition, the old cast iron jig saws have been replaced by modern jigsaws. Filip reports that there are 5 of them, as well as two new chevalets. One of the new chevalets is designed to work either left or right handed, as well as being adjustable in height. These new chevalets also have carved masks on the front block, perhaps since I note the carving workshop is in the next room to the marquetry atelier.

He also sent me a photo of Pierre, who is now 75 years old. I note he is older and grayer than I remember, but there is one feature that hasn't changed in 20 years. His passionate smile still fills the workshop.


Jameel Abraham said...


Those are very interesting new saws. Do you have any more information on them? Manufacturer?

W. Patrick Edwards said...

Check out the next post (February 8).