The Creative Hand

Rock Crystal

January 28, 2010

The art of rock crystal

Crystal in the furniture used to describe two very different materials: natural crystal or rock crystal, which is the hardest of all varieties of quartz, colorless and crystal manufactured, which is, strictly speaking, a glass of finesse, transparency and exceptional sound.


flat rock crystal

Flat rock crystal shaped temple


The e rock crystal has been known since antiquity, and was always considered equal to a precious stone he used for making art objects of great luxury, as well as various ornaments.

o n recognized with its transparency and tiny inclusions, according to specific fields (the Alps, Madagascar and Brazil).

art rock crystal

Pot bouquet crystal, Milan, XVII

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé
(C) Christie’s

U A Middle Ages,

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they make all sorts of relics. It also delivers rock crystal in very thin plates, such as ice today to protect delicate miniature paintings, and to protect the relics.

reliquary rock crystal

Reliquary rock crystal and gilt

Thirteenth century, (c) Normandy Museum

During the Renaissance, in the courts of Germany, Italy and France, the rock crystal objects, true masterpieces are very popular.

D es craftsmen carve and dig in the crystal mass, to make all kinds of decorative and utilitarian objects such as goblets, cups, vases … that once polished and engraved with arabesques and various ornaments, are richly decorated with precious mounts enamelled gold or platinum.

rock crystal chandelier

Chandelier Regency, eighteenth century


A u seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this area is used to make scarce and expensive chandeliers and stunning chandeliers.

T he first chandeliers made of rock crystal back to the mid seventeenth century. The crystals are so small and are pearls strung chandeliers called laces. In the early eighteenth century the discovery of new careers allowed to get larger items which could then be turned into drops, stars or pyramids.

rock crystal pendant

Size rock crystal pendant in
(C) rings

Learn more:

The article website Qantara on rock crystal

the company rings , who makes luminaires rock crystal

Posted by regardantiquaire at 18:02 – Trackbacks [0] – Permalink [ # ]
Tags: , ,


cristal de roche , lustre , objets d’art

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Timber framing – Dutch barns

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Do you wield a BIG AXE? The history of the division of woodworking trades in France

Do you wield a BIG AXE? The history of the division of woodworking trades in France


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is your AXE?

From ancient times until the industrial revolution, the axe was one of the most commonly used tools in woodworking. Today however, it has fallen out of favor as a precision tool for skilled use and has been relegated to splitting firewood and throwing competitions… unless you are Roy Underhill or Richard Maguire “The English Woodworker”. In 2012 Roy gave a TEDTalks about the broad axe, and to the fear and trepidation of the audience, demonstrated it’s use on stage! Last December 2013 Richard posted on his blog about his Essential Non Essential tool, the axe.

These two exceptions aside, long before France was even a country and as far back as Egyptian times, the axe comes into play in distinguishing an early division between two different kinds of workers of wood. All woodworks fell under the name Charpentiers, Carpenters. There were the “charpentier de la grande cognée” Carpenter of the Big Axe, and the “charpentier de la petite cognée” Carpenter of the Small Axe. The big axe was used for timber framing buildings & log homes and the small axe was used for making small movable items like benches and chests. Early in history before breakthroughs in metallurgy, the carpenter had only a handful of fairly unrefined tools to work with. The axe was indispensable for all sorts of tasks from felling a tree, to squaring a log or thicknessing board, to even cutting joinery on a large scale. The basic woodworking tools that were available, remained relatively unchanged for many centuries. What did change over time was the development of specialized skills into specific trades as well as the organization and control of those workers.

Woodworking Tools 1600-1900







In the Roman times, colleges of artisans were created who worked on behalf of public associations regulated by the Emperors. The trades which were useful to war, were granted favors and the rest saw a decline. These colleges of artisans under the military Roman rule, exerted great influence on the conquered Gaul, Germany and pre-religious guilds. Gaul encompassed an area larger than present day France and was ruled by the Romans for 5 centuries from 51 B.C. to 486. A.D.

The fall of the Roman empire removed the grip of military organization on the trades and eventually lead to the Feudal system of legal and military customs structuring society around the land holders. France was originated as Francia Occidentalis, West Francia, in 843 A.D. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the woodworkers were reduced to a state of servitude. Later in the 10th century, we see the disappearance of l’ouvrier et le paysan, the worker and the peasant, who belonged to the seigneur, lord, and who was sold as furniture. The slave becomes the serf. In the Middle Ages, specialization of work starts to occur and the trades were organized into Corporations, guilds. The guilds were associations of people engaged in the same business. Each profession was regulated at the city level. Apart from de l’architecte et de l’appareilleur, the architect and the stone fitter, a real superiority is given to maçons,tailleurs de pierre, carpenters, masons, stone cutters, carpenters, and to another degree, trades of iron and fire, les serruriers et les verriers, locksmiths and glass workers.

By the 12th century, corporations were small republics, whose leaders were elected by the les maîtres et les ouvriers, masters and the workers.. Regulations of various trades existed long before this point but they now become officially adopted. The serf has just recently become l’artisan, the craftsman, working for himself. The worker was free to do more ore less work, to get hired, or withdraw from a worksite as is done today. Workers like stone cutters were paid by the task, not by the day or hour.

In 1268, Étienne Boileau, provost under Louis IX, wrote livre des métiers, the Book of Trades which served as a model for the regulation of the trades throughout France. It coordinated the articles of la corporation des ouvriers du bois, the corporation of woodworkers and gave them power of public law. This model established regular corporations and stipulates the classes of apprentices, servants, masters: those who teach, those who serve and those who command. apprentis, valets, maîtres : ceux qui s’instruisent, ceux qui servent, ceux qui commandant. The woodworkers were first called charpentiers, carpenters, and It notes that there are two kinds of carpenters. The first kind, Les charpentiers font les gros travaux, Carpenters of large works which is the same as we discussed earlier called Carpenters of the Big Axe, who make fermes, pouters & ponts, trusses, beams & bridges. Then there are three subdivisions of the second kind who make small works, Carpenters of the small axe: les huchers- hutches, benches & tables; les huissiers- door & windows; les cochetiers- ships & carriages. It wasn’t long before the specialties were born.

From 1268 in Paris, the statues from the corporation of the workers of wood list 10 distinct categories of artisans:

1- charpentiers grossiers travaillant dans les gros ouvrages, coarse carpenters working in large structures
2- huchers
3- huissiers, faiseurs de huis ou fenestres pour bonnes gens clore
4- tonneliers coopers
5- charrons wheelwrights
6- couvreurs de maisons roofers of homes
7- cochetiers, fabricants de voitures; faiseurs de nefs ou bateaux manufacturers of carriages, boats, or ships
8- tourneurs
9- lambrisseurs
10- et « toutes manières d’autres ouvriers qui euvrent du trenchant en merrien », c’est-à-dire qui travaillent le bois avec un 1 outil all other workers who , that is to say working wood withe one tool

At this point in time, the link to the corporation is still only conditional, but the statutes and ordinances make it effective, narrowing the freedom of the workers by focusing on the maîtrises et aux confréries, masters and brotherhoods. The role of the corporation was for mutual defense, to protect its members from fraud and it also united them to overcome the peasant farmer condition thus becoming les bourgeois des communes et des bones villes, middle class citizens of the towns and good cities. It was born out of a need for mutual defense and was formed before the town. Groups of men in the same profession, joined together with common interests, with simpler organization, were more stable and less susceptible to rival powers and the brutal justice of the seigneur lord. Workers had to submit to the articles of the corporation to which they belonged. Salary was set by the maîtrises, masters. Each member could only have 2 or 3 apprentices under his command and became in relation, maître de l’œuvre, master of the work. This is what we now call le compagnon, having with him one or more boys. These developments were tied very closely to the building of the cathedrals, which were massive undertakings and required a great amount of planning and organization. Ordinary means of art and industry alone, would never have been enough to create such magnificent wonders as the cathedrals. It is people’s intense faith in God, people of all ages and sexes, that motivated them to volunteer their money and labor to help with the monumental task. Their faith supplied the motivation to build their church, for the Glory of God.

December of 1290 Charles de Montigny, garde de la Prévôte created the status of Menuisier.

On December 31, 1371 , Hugh Aubriot , provost of Paris, made a declaration by which all other varlet ( workman, journeyman ) aspiring to become a master, were to produce a masterpiece and submit it to the maîtres de métier, master of the trade for acceptance. The journeymen brought their grievances to Parliament but the statute was upheld on 4 September, 1382. Mastery became a monopoly that quickly led to abuse. The new law, reduced the number or jurors to 4. Masters were allowed to take a second apprentice in their lineage, or that of their wives. The apprenticeship lasted 6 years.

In 1382 there was a royal decree that ordered the distinction between two different types of charpentiers, carpenters.

GO BACK AND READ / TRANSLATE Les artistes décorateurs du bois; répertoire alphabétique des ébénistes, menuisiers sculpteurs, doreurs sur bois, etc., ayant travaillé en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (1912).pdf

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History of the term Menuiserie

The word Menuisier comes from the Vulgar Latin minutiare which is derived from minutia meaning smallness, fineness or minuteness.

Menuisé, meant- make slight, small, menial jobs (rendre menu, petit, menus travaux)


Le Menuisier, Carpenter



In the middle of the 17th century, the corporation des menuisiers welcomed a new class of artisan called “menuisier en ébène” and created the Jurande des Maîtres Ébénistes Bureau of Master Cabinetmakers.


That being said, before such organization and standardization as we see today, there were numerous other names being used. Christian Séguié describes a couple in his blog article L’histoire du nom de menuisier. Menuisiers were once called huchers which was a term for a the ancient French word huche, wooden chest or safe used to knead dough or store bread in.

Huch photo borrowed from

They were also called huissiers, bailiff, because the old word huis, door, which means door of a room, still remains in use for charpente à poutres et poteaux, post and beam carpentry as well as the type of menuisier, who make bays in doors of small apartments.



Learn More

“The artisans and guilds of France: beautiful craftsmanship through the centuries” by François Icher This book discusses many trades and the complex history of compagnonnage in France.

Les artistes décorateurs du bois; répertoire alphabétique des ébénistes, menuisiers sculpteurs, doreurs sur bois, etc., ayant travaillé en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles 1912 The Artist Decorators of Wood can be viewed or downloaded here from

Le Dictionnaire Pratique de Menuiserie – Ebénisterie – Charpente by J. Justin Storck in 1900 The entire dictionary viewable online

L’Art du Menuisier by Andre Jacob Roubo

The Anarchist Encyclopedia by Sébastien Faure This website contains the digital scan of this encyclopedia which was published in 1934. This entry contains information about the history of Menuisier.

Woodworking Tools 1600-1900 by Peter C. Welsh This project Gutenberg Ebook is available for free

Paris Furniture by the Master Ébénistes by Charles Packer

Wikipedia article on Menuiserie

Wikipedia article on Menuisier

Wikipedia article on Ébéniste

Wikipedia article on the History of Construction



Axe from Des principes de l'architecture, de la sculpture, de la peinture, et des autres arts qui en dépendent - avec un Dictionnaire des termes propres à chacun de ces arts - Félibien




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Beauty is in the mind

Semir Zeki, professor of

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neuroesthetics at University College

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London, studies the neural basis for art appreciation. He has found that the only factor common to all that people find beautiful in art and music is activity in the brain’s medial orbital frontal cortex, part of the reward and pleasure center of the brain.


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here is




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How many thumbs are there in a foot? Twelve of course!

Units of measurement in France

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Woodcut dated 1800 illustrating the new decimal units which became the legal norm across all France on 4 November 1800

France has a unique history of units of measurement due to radical attempts to adopt a metric system following the French Revolution.

In the Ancien régime, before 1795, France used a system of measures that had many of the characteristics of the modern Imperial System of units. There was widespread abuse of the king’s standards to the extent that the lieue could vary from 3.268 km in Beauce to 5.849 km in Provence. In the revolutionary era, France used the first version of the metric system. This system was not well received by the public. Between 1812 and 1837, the mesures usuelles was used – traditional names were restored, but were based on metric units: for example, the livre became 500 g. After 1837 the metric system was reintroduced and has remained the principal system of use to this day.


Ancien régime (to 1795)

Table of the measuring units used in the 17th century at Pernes-les-Fontaines in the covered market at Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France

In the pre-revolutionary era (before 1795), France used a system of measures that had many of the characteristics of the modern Imperial System of units, but there was no unified

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system of measurement. Charlemagne and successive kings had tried but failed to impose a unified system of measurement in France.[1] (In England, by contrast, the Magna Carta decreed that “there shall be one unit of measure throughout the realm.”)

The names and relationships of many units of measure were adopted from Roman units of measure and many more were added – it has been estimated that there were seven or eight hundred different names for the various units of measure. In addition the quantity associated with each unit of measure differed from town to town and even from trade to trade to such an extent that the lieue (league) could vary from 3.268 km in Beauce to 5.849 km in Provence. It has been estimated that on the eve of the Revolution a quarter of a million different units of measure were in use in France.[2] Although certain standards, such as the pied du roi (the king’s foot) had a degree of pre-eminence and were used by savants across Europe, many traders chose to use their own measuring devices, giving scope for fraud and hindering commerce and industry.[1]

Mesures usuelles (1812–1839)

Main article: Mesures usuelles

The Mesures usuelles were introduced by Napoleon I in 1812

The metric system was introduced into France in 1795 on a district by district basis, starting with Paris. However, by modern standards it was poorly managed. Although thousands of pamphlets were distributed, the Agency of Weights and Measures, which oversaw the introduction, underestimated the work involved. Paris alone needed 500,000 metre sticks, yet one month after the metre became the sole legal unit of measure, there were only 25,000 in store.[9] This, combined with other excesses of the Revolution and the high level of illiteracy, made the metric system unpopular.

Napoleon ridiculed the metric system, but as an able administrator, he recognised the value of a sound basis for a system of measurement. Under the décret impérial du 12 février 1812 (imperial decree of 12 February 1812), he introduced a revised system of measure – the mesures uselles or “customary measures” for use in small retail businesses. However, all government, legal and similar works still had to use the metric system and the metric system continued to be taught at all levels of education.[10] The names of a many pre-metric units were reintroduced, but were redefined in terms of metric units. Thus the toise (fathom) was defined as being two metres with six pied (feet) making up one toise,

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twelve pouce (inches) making up one pied and twelve lignes making up one pouce. Likewise the livre (pound) was defined as being 500 g, each livre comprising sixteen once and each once eight gros and the aune as 120 centimetres.[11]



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Timber Framing – Roubo’s Atelier

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Pietre dure

September 5, 2010

trays and art objects inlaid with precious stones

Trays, furniture and art objects inlaid with precious stones: history and techniques

L inlaid hard stones that was highly developed in ancient Greece, experiencing a real revival in the mid-sixteenth century, during the Renaissance, mainly in Rome and Florence and continued throughout the Baroque and Neoclassical. It was a luxury reserved for production at the time the princes and popes.



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Manufacture Royale des Gobelins, Paris, 1670-1680

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art and furniture stones, Ferdinand I de ‘Medici created in 1588, the Grand Ducal workshops, renamed “Office of precious stones.” The factory was established galleries dei Lavori (gallery artisans) under the direction of Vasari . Trays inlaid appreciated by the Medici will gradually replace the vases, antique collectors and symbol of power.


Tray inlaid with precious stones

Gallery dei Lavori, Florence, 1761

S educt by extraordinary items they have purchased or received as gifts diplomatic large princely courts of France, Spain, Germany, Prague, St. Petersburg, will create their own lapidary factory, thus promoting the dissemination of technical throughout Europe.

T hus the manufacture of hard stone which was created in 1661 to GOBELINS, recruited Florentine artisans to introduce French marquetry this difficult business to compete and Italian productions. For 26 years, the Manufacture Royale produce a stone inlays of high quality and all sizes, to decorate the offices of the late seventeenth century and the sumptuous tables above.

Office of marble and hard stone

Office of marbles and stones, 1606

U nlike the traditional mosaic, which uses small pieces (called tesserae) of inlaid precious stones (or “Florentine mosaic”) uses to create the final drawing blanks in the marbles of all colors, lapis lazuli, coral, malachite, jasper and different types of agate …

are the artists use the natural color of stones for a wider range of shades. Hard stones are chosen for their shape, color, opacity, and their brilliant shades of their grain. This produces works of art to furniture or other objects, to perfect copies of paintings, which are still the famous Florentine artists in all museums.


Table top inlaid with precious stones

Gallery dei Lavori, Florence, 1761

O n adorned the tabletops inlaid stones of different decors: naturalistic motifs (flowers, fruits, birds), geometric motifs, landscapes, arabesques, various attributes, ornaments from models created by naturalist painters and decorators.

D arious working techniques were developed over time.

  • Technique “comessi di Pietre hard” is to cut the elements of an array in stones of different colors and then assemble them into fixing them against siding on a support plate.

Technique “Intarsia di Pietre hard” it is to adjust the various elements cut in corresponding cavities that were previously recessed in a marble slab. This is the technique of inlay.
This technique particularly elaborate, can make beautiful paintings.

Jewelry box inlaid with precious stones


Jewelry box inlaid with precious stones,
gallery dei Lavori, Florence, 1720-1730


Links to visit:

- On the website Pietra Dura-studio, you will find the technique illustrated work inlay stones.

- Article to read on the website The inlaid marble or engineering and impurities.

- see the achievements of Hervé Obligi, one of the great hard stone marquetry.

Article antique look:

convenient veneers of alabaster

Original illustrations: the Metropolitan Museum

Posted by regardantiquaire at 12:29 – Trackbacks [0] – Permalink [ # ]
Tags: , , , ,
07 décembre 2012

Coffret de Prague. Prague, XVIIIème siècle



Coffret de Prague. Prague, XVIIIème siècle. Photo Christian BARAJA

Bronze et pierre dures. H. : 19,5 cm – l. : 26 cm – P. : 25 cm. Superbe état. Pas de restauration. Estimation : 20 000 / 25 000 €
December 7, 2012
Box of Prague. Prague, XVIIIth century



Box of Prague. Prague eighteenth century. Photo Christian Baraja

Bronze and stone hard. H. : 19.5 cm – l. : 26 cm – P. : 25

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cm. Superb condition. No restoration. Estimation: 20 000/25 000 €

Expert: Bruno Perrier 06 77 41 32 09

Lizard, insensitive to the torments of love (Typotius “Symbola” – 1601-1603, III) fits everywhere, likened to “little thoughts that come from the imagination” (Teresa of Avila). Elongated body covered with scales, triangular head and feet with long fingers, it is placed on the dome sarcophagus that little box, and sneaks up on a bed of leaves gilt bronze between opulent fruit colorful polished gemstones . Sinuosities plant and precious materials adorn all sides of this exceptional object. They fall within the gilded frames on a background of ebony veneer on a wooden core. The glossy black and bright gold are the colors sing. Feet fretted base form, structure became décor. While the cabinet is architecture: the side panels consist of openings between pilasters disbursed; moldings of ebony, guilloché and reported, constitute the base and entablature crowned by a dome square. The taste of the preciousness and vegetable inspiration are a miniature baroque refined nature. Prague is one of the largest, which has mineral resources of Bohemia, garnet, amethyst, topaz or Hyacinthe, and the presence of a hard stone Manufacture of the Florentine model. The Italian influence is reflected in the association ebony, gilt bronze and colored stones, and the delicacy and the organization sets. This kit wonderful work of cabinetmaker, goldsmith and jeweler, reflects the renaissance of the arts in Prague after the turmoil of the Thirty Years War, and the subtle tension that crosses between naturalism and spirituality.

Aguttes. Friday, December 7, 2012. Drouot – Room 1 & 7 – 9, rue Drouot – 75009 Paris

Posted by Alain Truong at 22:13 – Cabinet of Curiosities – Commentaires [0] – Trackbacks [0] – Permalink [#]
Tags: Box, lizard, hard stone, Prague, XVIIIth century

Aguttes. Vendredi 7 décembre 2012. Drouot Richelieu – Salle 1 & 7 – 9, rue Drouot – 75009 Paris

Posté par Alain Truong à 22:13 – Commentaires [0]Rétroliens [0] – Permalien [#]
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Interesting fence & gate designs by Desormeaux

Interesting fence & gate designs by Desormeaux

I came across some interesting fence and gate designs recently when I was looking at a book on Trellis work and Garden Menuiserie woodworking by Monsieur Paulin Désormeaux published in 1836. As was common at the time, the book has a very long title







Toutes les connaissances accessoires utiles aux jardiniers
ainsi qu’aux amateurs de jardins : le grillage,

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la conduite dzs eaux d”arasement, la construction
des serres, vaches, caisses, etc.

Very interesting fence and gate designs.

Very interesting fence and gate designs.

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