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Stonemasonry workshop at CathedralOscope

SMBMSM - Stone cutting workshop - maureen at work (2)SMBMSM - Stone cutting workshop - maureen at work (2)
©SMBMSM - Stone cutting workshop - maureen at work (2)
Time travel in the Middle Ages

An afternoon with the cathedral builders at CathedralOscope in Dol-de-Bretagne!


Stonecutter for a day!

Today, the mission I accepted is that of a stone cutter. For me, who is not agile with my ten fingers, the challenge is great! So I go to the CathedralOscope, in Dol de Bretagne where I have an appointment with Marc, Master Stonemason and his “student” Olivier, who is also the director of this beautiful museum dedicated to the builders of cathedrals.The welcome is warm and good-natured. We are three apprentices and my colleagues of the moment are respectively 8 and 13 years old.Several work tables are set up with sculptor’s chisels and burettes, but also pencils and squares that will be used to draw the patterns chosen for our future masterpiece.

The choice of the motif

Olivier asks me what pattern I want to make and I choose, as a good Breton woman, a stylized ermine.We get to work. No right to make mistakes! We are given to each a stone to cut, the basic tools, that is to say the pencil the square, and our draw our pattern. Olivier gives me a hand to draw my ermine, as I am shaking a bit, at the idea of working directly on the material.My little companions choose a triskel for one and the letter A for the other.Then comes the delicate moment when we drop our pens for the chisel and the cruet!

The art of patience!

The first scissor strokes are given by Marc and Olivier, in order to fully understand the gesture. The control is perfect and the gesture elegant and precious. Not sure I will be as good!”I attack my motif with patience and apprehension but finally, the gesture is quickly tamed and the whole takes a beautiful shape. Quickly the first stone chips fly away, as well as a fine white dust, which is redeposited on our hands.Fifteen minutes, then thirty… the drawings come to life under our hands. Patience is required because we have to carve but not too much, we have to put relief, but without damaging the pattern…In the large courtyard, curious people come to see us, attracted by the sound of our resonating cruets. Very quickly, they inquire and reserve their place for the next workshop

After an hour and a half, the work is finished. Marc and Olivier then take over for the small finishing touches and draw with a stylus, the floral patterns, waves or other symbols that will embellish the basic sculpture and thus make it unique and personalized.We are then in possession of a true masterpiece that will now take pride of place on our desks or other living room shelves!

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