Studio Visit: Le Four
June 19 2016
Nestled into the historic 12th arrondissement of Paris is a sight that is altogether unfamiliar for most residents of the metropolis – a glass blowing studio. Le Four or ‘The Furnace’ was the pet project of Parisian Glass Blower Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert in with the support with a coterie of talented artisans behind him. In just over a year of operation, Le Four has welcomed more than a few curious passers by. We stopped by the light soaked studio to chat with Jeremy about Le Four and the delicate magic of blown glass.
Current Location: Paris
How do you take your coffee? Cappuccino triple shot.
What are your Sunday rituals? My Sundays consist of sleeping in,house cleaning, laundry and catching up on TV shows .
I’d like to start, as with all things, at the beginning. Can you tell us a bit about where you were born and grew up?
I was born in Paris and grew up on the west coast of Africa in Cameroon, Gabon and the Ivory Coast.
How did you come to glass blowing?
I have been wanting to play with hot glass since I was 5 and never thought I would do anything else. It was confirmed the first time I walked in a glass studio and saw the hot glass.
Did you study formally?
I have never been good with anything formal so I have to admit that I learned my craft on the road. Traveling from studio to studio.
What is it that most interests you about the medium of glass?
I don’t know what I find most interesting about glass. I learn so much every day that I am constantly growing as a craftsman and my relationship with the material is always evolving. I love the idea that I am using what flows underneath the earths to express my deepest emotions.
Can you speak to the position of a glassblower, somewhere between craftsman and artist. Where would you say you fall?
The exercise of categorizing creativity in boxes is one I find complex and almost restricting. It seems that most people that get into the creative process get stifled by trying to pre-define whatever they are or going to do. If I had to pick, I like the term ‘Creative Artisan’.
Onto Le Four – how did this studio come about? Was establishing your own studio something you had always wanted to do, or was this an opportunity you seized in the moment?
Having my own studio has always been my dream. Its a project I have been working on for years. The opportunity came about because I did everything I possibly could for it to happen. Building a studio downtown Paris is extremely complex and I am really fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing support network that helped me make it happen. A little luck was also involved. The main reason for wanting to be in Paris is the proximity with people. There are millions which populate the city and not one glass studio. Today people walk by and get to experience this beautiful craft. Le Four is also a brand we are launching with this spirit in mind. I wanted to have proximity with enough people to be able to sell directly. Le Four is about making affordable contemporary day to day craft objects at an affordable price. Being here permits us to be in direct contact with those who might not even think its possible to own such things. What is frustrating about constantly selling in the high end markets is that it stays very exclusive. Our studio manager Lea and I really want to help reconnect the craft with everyday people. As a maker there is a natural desire to be a part of the community. I find it sad that its gotten so bad that most people drink out of, machine made, big business, glasses or put there flowers in vases produced in other countries where labor is super cheap and working conditions awful. Our vision is that there is a growing demand for the simple and the local hand made.
Can you tell us a bit about the studio itself?
The studio is located on the east side of Paris. It is on a big avenue and has a beautiful big window on two stories. It is located underneath an old railway built in the 1850’s. It is a big arch way made of old stones.
Le Four is situated right in the heart of the metropolis, and is likely the first interaction many Parisians have had with a glassblower. Do you encourage this interaction with the community, and how so?
People stop and watch all day long. If the door is open sometimes people pop there head in and ask questions. We find it great to be able to do that for people. Our favorite is the little kids that glue there faces and hands on the window.
What do you find is the most surprising aspect of glassblowing to most people?
I think what is most surprising is simply seeing glass in a liquid state. They are captivated by the way it glows and moves. As am I actually.
Le Four has been open for nearly a year now, what has been the most satisfying aspect of this endeavor for you so far?
The most satisfying is when I wake up and tell myself I am gonna walk to my studio and play with glass all day. So you can imagine that the rest of the day is usually pretty good!
What’s next (for you and Le four)
Next step is building our online shop to be able to sell directly to people, both in real life and online. Locals could come pick-up their piece if they are near, we could deliver by bike or ship for those who are far away.
We also plan to collaborate with other glassblowers. We’d invite them at the studio to make an object that will be sold on the e-shop. In October, we’ll take part to a creators,designers,craft market. It is another way to connect with people and see their reactions to our objects. We will also imagine new objects and develop the aesthetics of the brand.
On a daily basis, we’ll continue to spread the word that hand made blown glass can be found around the corner, that you can have unique pieces at home that you got from the studio in your neighborhood.