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Charpentiers d'Europe et d'ailleurs


A propos

For the past two decades, interest in traditional carpentry techniques has been on the rise in France, the UK, Germany, Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. This revival – and its various interpretations – has been the subject of meetings, workshops and other types of events involving woodworking professionals.

A new website by France's Ministry of Culture and Communication is devoted to carpenters and their work. The site sketches portraits of about a dozen men and women who, although they came to carpentry via different routes (family tradition, compagnonnage, apprenticeship or by teaching themselves), share the same passion for traditional techniques and hand craftsmanship, as well as an interest in ancient knowledge. A rich collection of multimedia brings together historic documents and contemporary accounts, reveals some of the secrets of France's ancient trade guilds, or compagnonnage, and presents images of carpenters throughout history. This is a living laboratory, based on gestures of the woodworking trade, and one that sketches a portrait of a heritage that is both alive and changing, both physical and ethereal.

Visitors to the site can explore the toolbox of a country carpenter and discover a unique set of hand tools as well as the diversity and specific regional shapes of tools in France.
François Calame is an ethnologist with the Regional Cultural Affairs Directorate of Upper Normandy, and for some time he has been interested in carpentry, and has studied the practices of generations of craftspeople. He has filmed and photographed carpenters at work in France, Sweden, Romania, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Japan, from the act of felling the tree all the way to the assembly and raising of frames and houses. He has also collected accounts about craft knowledge, the profession and how it is portrayed, including how trees are chosen, the right time to fell them, the art of the Scribe System, topping-off rituals, and so on.
Examples of wood architecture in France are presented by Jannie Mayer and Rachel Touzé, curators at the Architecture and Heritage Media Library (Centre de Recherche sur les Monuments Historiques – CRMH).

With 70 video excerpts, more than 400 images (photographs, illuminated manuscripts, drawings, etc.) as well as animations, the website represents a unique and original look at this heritage. Woodworking professionals will appreciate it, as well as researchers and the general public. The site brings together a largely unpublished body of documentation, gathered from public sources.