september 20 2013
The Baccarat Manufacture
Being invited at the Manufacture of Baccarat is accessing to one of the most beautiful French heritage alive, it’s knowing the scenes of the adventure of crystal and discover some of its secrets. It’s keeping widened eyes in front of such skill , precision and know-how , this knowledge that provides the world from this small village of Lorraine , wonderful objects , worth of the most beautiful fairy tales.
Visiting the Manufacture of Baccarat is following an extraordinary human saga that has been lasting for centuries and promises to perpetuate more.
Chandeliers, vases, candelabras and cut Tsars glass services, kings and heads of state, maharajas chandeliers , since 1764, the history of Baccarat has often joined those of the world leaders. The richness of the work of master glassmakers has crystallized in the scrolls, arabesques, shapes and colors, the excess and the magnificence of these extraordinary objects that reflect a unique expertise. All these wonderful items from the oven and workshops for the manufacture, typical of the 18th century. Installed in 1764 on the banks of the Meurthe, originally called Sainte Anne Glass, the manufacture lit his first furnace in 1765 to never turn it off. The legacy of the factory holds 360,000 drawings, identified and listed today scanned 32,000 molds available for glassmakers. But it is in the secular movements and the skills of workers that lies the treasure of the crystal. It also adapts to the times and has already planned to replace the main oven-which may turn off each year -by individual ovens. The exhibition “Taillé sur mesure” at the chapel of the Manufacture reveals some treasures, past and present and demonstrates the incredible transmission from 250 years with 300 historic and contemporary objects.
Around the ark of cooking and mittens , the various ovens preparing the material to 1,450 degrees , the gestures are not superfluous , they are extremely accurate , with infinite patience , fast moving , time break , alternating long time , rapid gestures, and turning, turning the rod of the crystal blower . It should be the breath of the man to give the shape at the end of the cane , the indispensable tool of the blower that is constantly heated. Kid , second , big kid , blower , tiler, 80 glassworkers at the factory , including 24 of the best workers in France .
It takes three years of training before thinking to master this material and accomplish these secular movements for working in this area. From this long learning, the glassworkers are taking off a lot of humility such as Christian who has been in the factory for 38 years and says ” it’s not because we’re the best of France that we are the best workers. There are workers who are also good but do not dare to pass the contest. ” It is at the school of Moulins, Sarrebourg or Vannes-le -Châtel that you learn the trade and then became an apprentice in alternation and get a Patent crafts. But it takes more years to begin to master the work of the crystal. Workshops “froid” require as much precision and patience: the workshop “rougissage” where Frederick Cuny, the head of the merger ignites the gold for the famous red Baccarat, the cut workshop made with diamond headland after calipering to red or blue felt, the bronze workshop, gilding workshop .. as many mandatory workshops for such perfect objects .
From this simple fireball out from ovens , liquid like honey , some delicacy wonders are born . Hugues and Nicolas have a minute to realize this twisted branch of chandelier, understanding the material , following its natural movement , dancing with it to get the desired shape and cutting it with scissors to remove the excess. Observation time , precision , everything depends on a moment, a second to succeed in taming this amazing material . It takes only ten seconds for the branch to cool down and harden. One minute and 10 seconds of an orchestrated show to crystallize this transparent material.
All these objects are passed under the scrutiny of a picker at the factory , “a picker is the eye of perfection ” says Catherine , the area manager , who stalks the “evil delicacy “, the ” bubbled stones “, the” frothy “, the ” foam ” and other defects to retain only the perfect pieces. Sometimes heated debates broke out between the glass maker and the picker defending his work. Depending on the pieces made by the glass maker, 20% and 30% of the scrap parts are recycled into raw material.
A selection of chandeliers and lamps lately unveiled at the Milan Furniture Fair this year, including one by the Campana brothers combining crystal chandelier “Zenith” with bamboo. It takes eight weeks to receive a luster that comes in pieces, carefully arranged in wooden boxes. The latest achievement presented at Designer’s days in Paris: the iconic Harcourt glass, originally called “service Gondola triple button” transformed by the students of the Swiss school, ECAL, a wall lamp here. And the adventure continues in a beautiful way.
To visit until November 10th, 2013, the exhibition “Taillé sur mesure” in the chapel of the Manufacture in Baccarat, led by Michaela Lerch, curator and director of the Heritage Service.
To discover on October 16th 2013, the book “Baccarat-250 years” with texts by Laurence Bennaim and Murray Moss, published by Rizzoli New York.