Francis Aimable - Furniture-maker and sculptor
Part of the fun of living history is to make one's own equipment. At least it is for me and, clearly, I am not the only one.
Like many re-enactors, I made a lot of things through the years : clothing, bronze buckles, hourglasses, several purses, a few daggers and sword handles… and I even earned some good skills in making scabbards (everything from the bronze chape to the belt and strap end). But there comes times when you realize that you cannot make everything and that you need more skill, knowledge and tools. Some items are just impossible to make without the right tools and knowledge, too much practice is needed to get a proper result: swords, armours, shoes are among these and furnitures too. You also discover that by doing what you know best and leave the rest to others who really know their trade, you gain time (which is precious with 2 children) and perhaps even money. And at the end of the day, you also get better result.
In my hobby as in my job, I love working in team. It is a best way of learning new things, having a good time and getting wonderful results. In reenactment it is the best way to sum up the knowledge of several persons and get an even a more convincing and ultimately accurate items. That's the kind of relationship I'm always trying to build with artisans: not buying a product of the shelves but when each one brings his contribution to the project. I was therefore very lucky to meet Francis Aimable 10 years ago, a furniture maker of great talent who became a friend and was kind enough to help me with some of my personal projects.
I met Francis when a French magazine dedicated to Middle Ages presented his first pieces of medieval furniture: 3 chests inspired by those in the Hospice de Beaune. When I saw the chests it was clear that one should end up in my living room. I became one of Francis first medieval clients.
Unlike many artisans producing living-histroy goods Francis is not re-enactor himself and a large part of his production goes to castle owner or antics collectors, not re-enactors. He has however a sincere interest in what we do and he has been attending Pontoise Historical Fair since 2004. He started to work in 1965 and made his apprenticeship with his father who learned his trade in the Faubourg St Antoine. An area of Paris where most furniture maker of the city were gathered until recently. Back then Francis worked mainly on 18th century style furniture Louis-Quinze and Louis-Seize. He also learned sculpture and fine art with a sculpture teacher who was 19 years old in 1900. You can imagine the sum of experience and the century-old knowledge that passed from one to the other! He received the title of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF) in 1979.
Francis is not only a skilled furniture maker but also a talented wood sculptor in his own right. Of course he uses modern machines to start the job but even his most simple stool is hand finished using chisel, hand plane, spokeshave, scraper and gouge. The extend of his skills is best shown on the most lavishly decorated gothic furniture. Chests, tables, trestles, dressers, cathedra, stools, he made them all. All look and feel authentic, from the plain stool or to the chest fully covered with gothic arches and pinnacles.
Francis is always enthusiastic about making new type of furniture, trying new shapes or sculpting unlikely objects like the core of a sword scabbard or a crossbow bolt quiver. When he sees an original piece of furniture he studies it with a knowing eye of the artisan, eager to improve his understanding of the workmanship of his forebear.
Until now all the furniture I have from him are quite plain, but one day it will be my honor to order to him a piece worthy of his talent.
Francis can be contacted by email: fransculp -at- yahoo.fr and will be happy to answer your inquiry in French or English.
By Mathieu Harlaut, Captain of the Company of Saynt Georges
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