Welcome to my Blog
This is a place where the visitors are confronted with their search for a personal touch and where they have an opportunity to get acquainted with a skilled expert, who has turned durability and tradition into a personal passion.
I hope this will become a valued and rich source of inspiration and knowledge. Please Leave comments and enjoy your visit.

Monday, 1 December 2014

MANUFACTUM | A book about Belgian high-end Craftsmanship in Belgium | Masters of Craftsmanship

Manufactum, High-end craftsmanship in Belgium
The Craft
Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I am incredibly passionate about traditional high-quality craftsmanship and that I’m always looking for ways to put my own craft in the limelight through demonstrations and group exhibitions. Another way of promoting craftsmanship is through an editorial contribution in the press, e.g. “Pearls of Craftsmanship”, a quality label for craftsmanship of the highest quality.
A book about craftsmanship in Belgium
An idea I’ve been juggling with for the past 5 years, is a book about renowned Belgian companies who still work according to traditional methods. I am certain that this book would bring an added value to any bookstore. I’m not talking about an expensive pictorial book with some nice page-sized pictures depicting close-ups of interiors, but rather a book about the craftsman behind the finished product, not unlike the one the Dutch publishing house “ Spectrum” published in the mid-80s. The book I’m talking about should give the reader a clear image of the workshop, philosophy and working methods of the craftsman.

Publishing a book
A few years ago I tried to bring the idea to life. I tried to gather as much information as possible from several publishing houses in order to start up this project. I also visited a number of illustrious photographers to check if they might be willing to come on board with the idea. It all turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. People weren’t easily persuaded or had their own vision on how to approach such a project. Most of the time people were of the opinion that a “nice” book with pictures of interiors would sell better. 
I own a number of these books myself, and I have to be honest, this type of book becomes rapidly outdated.
So called “tasteful” pictures of interiors become obsolete in no time and the book is no longer in the public’s eye or sold for that matter. It is much like revisiting 10 year old magazines on interior design and thinking to yourself “forget about retro, this just looks outdated and tasteless”. 
A book on companies that still work according to traditional methods, a book on métiers or a book that actually shows the creation of something done by hand, defies the imagination, inspires people and earns their respect…and most importantly never goes out of fashion.
The financial side of the story
Financially, it wasn’t in my capacity to publish such a unique book or reference work on my own. But for those who know me, it’s already clear that once I have something in mind, it’s impossible to deter me. 
Another line of reasoning was to get a number of renowned companies involved who had the financial means to support such a tasteful project and in the process attach the name of their company to the art of craftsmanship and the Belgian quality label.
I suggested they used this book as a promotional gift for their clients, for the holidays or just as a token of appreciation. 
This way, they could show people that the quality of the selected companies was equal to the quality of the company who sponsored the book. But alas, this idea wasn’t well-received either. Apparently they didn’t believe in their own trade enough.

Patrick Damiaens, ornamental woodcarver
“Manufactum”, the book
In the spring of 2014, I was contacted by publishing house “Snoeck”, who asked me if I had any interest collaborating on a book called “Manufactum”, a book about traditional high-quality craftsmanship in Belgium. Finally, I thought, a publisher with the guts to take on this challenge. I told the people at “Snoeck” about my previous attempts to have such a book published and eagerly pledged my allegiance to help select the “right crafts” to ensure the quality of the book. 
This was no easy feat, seeing as the publishing house had certain preferences regarding the selection, but nevertheless, we ended up creating a marvelous book; a book that tells 20 fascinating stories, with the highest esteem for the trade, I might add, about the workshops of 20 Belgian craftsmen, each with their own unique specialty. Manufactum draws you into the world of a group of craftsmen who’ve turned durability and tradition into their passion. 
You undoubtedly understand the joy I feel of having had the pleasure to contribute to the realization of such an amazing book.

 The book will be published in November 2014 and will cost 30 euros. Both a Dutch-French and an English-French edition will be available in stores. It’s a hard-back that consists of 160 pages.

Book Manufactum
This is a book about the “masters in handcraft”, people and companies who manufacture products with their own hands and for whom general knowledge, tradition, skill and the knowledge of materials are essential. The aforementioned products are quality-wise so demanding, unique and exclusive that they can only be created by handcraft, leaving them shrouded in a hint of exclusivity and tradition; in short, Mastership.

 Info Snoeck: http://www.snoeckpublishers.be

ISBN: 978-94-6161-195-6

These are the 20 professionals in the book

Atelier Menchior - Plaster models
established 1850

Manufactum | Atelier Menchior, plaster models and ornaments

Atelier KERAT, Restoration of ART
Atelier Kerat Restoration of art

 established 1938
MAENE Piano creation

Angel Barrero: master of the art of Scagliola

Manufactum |Angel Barrero, Scagliola

Manufacture De Wit, tapesteries
   established 1889
Manufacture De Wit, Restoration Tapesteries

Lutson, Gold Leather

LUTSON, Gold leather
Quireyns, Stonemason

Walter Quireyns, stonemason

FALK, Copper cookware
3 generations
FALK, professional-grade copper cookware

Foundry, De Clercq-Ginsberg
3 generations
Manufactum |Foundry, De Clercq-Ginsberg | bronze casting

Lefevre Interiors, Paneling
established 1890
Lefevre Interiors, Paneling and interiors

EMYSFEER, Upholstery
Manufactum |Fanny Jean, upholstery | Emysfeer

Diederik Willem Vanderheyden, trompe l'oeil
 Diederik Willem Vanderheyden, Interior illusions, trompe l'oeil

TONDAT, Intarsio and Venetian terrazzo
 3 generations

Manufactum| TONDAT, Venetian terrazzo, Intarsio

Ralph Baggaley, Leather Creations

Ralph Baggaley, Leather creations

Atelier Mestdagh,stained glass windows
established 1947

Manufactum |Atelier Mestdagh, stained glass windows

Pels-d'Hondt, Organs
established 1892
Pels-d'Hondt, Organs | manufacturer church organs

Dujardyn, artisanal forge

Manufactum |The artisanal forge Dujardyn artconcept

t'Gebinte, Mill constructor

Manufactum | t'Gebinte Mill constructor

Patrick Damiaens, Ornamental Woodcarver

Patrick Damiaens, Ornamental Woodcarver

Patrick Damiaens is Member of  Pearls of Craftsmanship


Manufactum the book

Monday, 24 November 2014

The antiques fair ANTICA Namur 2014 in Belgium | Liège-style Furniture | An 18th century Liège corner chest

Antica 2014
The Art & Antiques Fair in Namur  (Belgium)

Source of inspiration
A visit to the museum, a castle, a church or an antique fair is probably the most important source of inspiration for a woodcarver. 
These are the places where a craftsman gets his ideas from, where he looks for new challenges and often finds something totally unexpected, and even after 25 years  as a woodcarver, you can still get the sense of learning something new.
We tend to go there to take a closer look at how our fellow woodcarvers solved certain problems back in the day and how they applied their knowledge of tasteful proportions to interior decorating and to analyze the way they shaped things as well as the woodcarving techniques they applied.

Antica Namur
Antica Namur is a must-see event for Belgian and foreign antique dealers. Antica Namur is where everyone from the world of antiques meets up. With over 125 Belgian and foreign antique dealers, 28.000 professionals, collectors and art lovers, it was the place to be this autumn!
Antica Namur combined quality, charm, tradition and conviviality to make sure that we had the experience of a lifetime, surrounded by art and antiques.
The authenticity of the pieces on display is always verified by a team of experts and therefore guaranteed.
This year, the theme of the fair was “Gastronomy”, with a special guest appearance by Gerald Watelet, who took care of the menu in the restaurant at the fair and who also occupied a stand to give free rein to his decorative skills in an exceptional atmosphere, completely devoted to the theme of the fair.
In and around the exhibition space, antique dealers used art to present this year’s theme of “Gastronomy” by means of paintings, engravings and art objects and also shed some light on the art of the table, using furniture, porcelain, glass, silverware and fabrics from renowned collections.

An 18th century Liège corner chest

An 18th century Liège corner chest
During our visit to Antica Namur 2014, this remarkable 18th century Liège corner chest caught my eye. I thought it was a thing of exceptional beauty and it immediately drew me in for a closer look. The exhibitor explained to me that this corner chest used to be a component of wainscot paneling – a wall cabinet, and that the interior (shelves, back panel) were from a more recent period.

The person who created this, surely understood his craft; beautifully quartered oak and an amazing frame, which is not uncommon for Liège furniture. What struck me in particular were the compositions of the ornaments and the quality of the woodcarving on the three-piece door frame, which, in my opinion, was incredibly well-finished. The beautiful and elegant compositions were quite creative and completely reflect the style period. The rocaille was shaped with much devotion and great attention to detail. 

Upon closer examination, I drew the antique dealer’s attention to the fact that this is a so called “composite piece of furniture”, to support his earlier claim about the interior of the chest, which probably consisted of the original door of the wainscot paneling and the later addition of the rest of the corner chest. The cabinetmaker used original 18th century parts from other cabinets or wainscot paneling. The latter seems to be the more obvious possibility, seeing as the balusters are very broad, too broad even, to be able to come from a Liège wardrobe or bookcase.

The length of the asymmetrical decorative “Liège-style” motifs reveal that they were most likely taken from wainscot paneling or a wall cabinet. The balusters are decorated with three motifs: a lower, middle and an upper motif. I deliberately refer to this as “Liège-style”, because these compositions of motifs could stem from two Liège style periods, being the “Liège Regency”-style and the “Liège Louis XV”-style. For an exact determination of the origin, we would have to be able to take a look at the entire chest or paneling. It so happens that looking at the original chest or configuration tells us something more about which period it stems from: Liège Regency or Louis XV.
If you look closely, you will also notice that the balusters were sawn horizontally, (picture of middle motif). The charming elements with carvings on them were reused to serve as a decorative whole.

It would, however, seem that the cabinetmaker was not completely aware of how to use Liège woodcarving or how to apply compositions of ornaments on furniture. He seems to have reversed the compositions of the Liège ornaments, which are thus upside down. A mistake you immediately notice if you know a thing or two about Liège furniture and compositions.
Despite this, it’s still an intriguing piece of furniture.

Compositions of ornaments, reversed (Liège furniture)

Liège style furniture


A visit to the antiques fair is definitely worth your time and if you combine it with a cultural visit to the city of Namur, you’re sure to have a wonderful day.
 I also took a number of pictures during
ANTICA Namur 2014.


Painted wooden panelling

The antiques fair ANTICA Namur 2014 

The antiques fair ANTICA Namur 2014 in Belgium

A beautiful carved and gilded mirror on one of the stands, Antica 2014

Rococo style mirror carved and gilded

Beautiful panelling with ornaments

Beautiful carved ornaments polychrome