Were you always a wood-turner?
I lived two lives. In the first one, I was an electronic engineer. Surprisingly, it led me to my current activity. At work, there was a wood workshop which allowed me to discover wood related crafts, including wood-turning. I tried and enjoyed it very much.
Little by little, I invested more of my time working this material : I trained myself, bought some equipment, and would collect any piece of tree I would find. I learned by making a lot of mistakes – even at the peril of my hands sometimes ! [laughs] I persued that line of work because I felt deeply connected to that material. I became a wood-turner very progressively.
When did you decide to fully commit to it?
There was a turning point in 2003 when I collected a huge chestnut tree : it was a very interesting piece with complex grain. Chestnut tree is difficult to manipulate because of its fibrous composition, but its veinage was so inspiring that I desired to make something out of it. The fact I acquired such a voluminous tree spoke clearly about my state of mind : more than ever was I inclined towards that work. A couple of years later, I was officially a wood-turner.
Why are you so passionate about wood-turning? And about wood itself?
There is a very pleasant aspect of instant gratification in wood-turning. I can use any piece of wood and very quickly turn it into a simple object. I enjoy that a lot.
Moreover, I enjoy discovering wood because each essence, each trunk is different. It is alive: it arrives at the workshop with a history, particular veins and caracteristics retracing its life. For instance, each ring will reflect the tree’s growth’ conditions.
I never get weary because I never do the same work twice: each tree renews my pleasure. Recently, I started working on a trunk that had an extraordinary smell of vanilla! It is very pleasant to have that king of relationship to matter.
You invented a unique technique: the wooden lace. Can you tell us the story behind that discovery ?
At the end of 2013, I travelled to New Zealand where I was interning with a wood-turner friend. There, I tried the sandblasting technique, a technique which allows to erode the wood fiber.
When I returned home, I sandblasted a piece too much and unfortunately pierced it! It really was by accident that I stumbled upon what was to become my trademark, the wooden lace. My merit was to realize that I had found something interesting and to push forward in that direction my creations.
“At first, it is the trace of time eroding natural materials that made me want to develop sandblasting.[…] I find my inspiration in the traces of the past and that is what pushed me into developing the wooden lace technique.”
What is the process of that technique?
First, I turn the wood so that I can give it the desired shape. After turning it, the wood has its final thickness, without the transparency. That is when I sandblast the piece. It wears off the work at its core and gives that effect of lightness. My wooden laces are exclusively made out of oak wood because it is the essence that best fits that type of work.
It took me about eight years to master that technique, even though I learn more with each piece, my know-how sharpens as well as my eye…
What is the source of your desire to work wood in that manner?
At first, it is the trace of time eroding natural materials that made me want to develop sandblasting. For example, the deteriorated and old cladding on barns, eventually weathered by the sun; or the layers of stone on which one can oversee their soft areas worn off by the impact of time.
I find my inspiration in the traces of the past and that is what pushed me into developing the wooden lace technique.
My love for wood also supported my artistic approach.
How did you gain the reputation you have today?
I participated in the annual congress of the American organization for wood-turner in 2006, in Kentucky. It is a fabulous event gathering a lot of people. For instance, the American organization counts about 16 000 members when its French homolog only has 300 of them! The show draws in professionals and amateurs alike, each one is invited to showcase their work. I brought a few pieces that year and was approached by the Del Mano gallery, a reference in that domain.
My first sales were made in the United States, thanks to them. Afterwards, I multiplied my shows in fairs and galleries, supported by institutions like Ateliers d’Art de France for example, and they were very receptive to my work. Little by little, it built my current reputation.