Monday 19 December 2022

The artisan

We seem to be inundated with artisans these days.  Artisanal this and that; crisps, yoghurt, probably lettuce and sprouts too.   I have recently been interacting with the real thing: a Mr Guais at Chateau Gontier hand-makes accordeons; the traditional diatonic ones (you get different notes pulling and squeezing), about 10 per year in a little workshop that used to be a garage.  He makes the point that the musician and instrument will be working together for many years, so the instrument itself should be as beautiful as possible, given the constraints of functionality.   And so they are.

He is right of course.   The flute that I played for many years I chose from among the professional models available because it seemed to me to be the most beautiful.   Grey steel, sliver and black resin, all combined. 

Here's a couple of his accordeons to make the point:

I didn't contact him for a new accordeon, though.  He also services old ones, and I had acquired an old one cheaply.   You can come a cropper buying an old accordeon; it can cost you more to put it right than it is worth, and you might have been better off paying full whack for a new one.   Fortunately this was not the case for me, but none the less, tuning it and putting it right cost nine times what it cost me to buy.   But I do have a nice instrument, and still at a good price.

The workshop itself speaks of quality.   The tools are metal, heavy, floor standing and built to last a lifetime, not like much of the modern plasticised stuff.   It's what you need if you're going to do a proper job as an artisan.   

Mr Guais will be moving soon, to a purpose-renovated workshop on the banks of the Mayenne river, in a ex lock-keeper's cottage.   Renovation being done by the town, in an attempt to bring life back to these abandoned buildings.   Probably a good thing.

And now I'm trying to get my fingers around the new machine.   It's different from my smaller, student model, and will take some getting used to.  But it sounds nice.

Sunday 4 December 2022

Common walk

While staying with the friends in Wimbledon, we went on a walk on the common.   I hadn't been aware of the semi-natural state of this carefully tended common land.   Joint walks in the past tended to be over the grassy area around Rushmere pond at the South-Eastern corner of the common, but this time we drove to The Windmill, a museum at the centre.  From there, a walk to Queensmere Pond, and on to the edge of Putney Cemetery and back via Jerry's Hill.  Here's some pics.

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