An Authentic Speciality of the Jura Mountains
Balls, yoyos, pegs, doorstops, spinning tops, hourglasses, spatulas, diabolos, whistles, stoppers, egg cups, rosaries, tool handles, honey spoons, balustrades, cup and ball games… the list of objects made using the wood turning technique is endless.
From Prayer Beads…
Wood turning is a speciality born at Saint-Claude, with the rise of the Benedictine monks in the 11th century, and the production of religious articles, particularly prayer beads. The reputation of the growing abbey in the 12th century attracted pilgrims and further increased business in wood-turned products. In 1811, there were 500 craftsmen (often peasants) in Saint-Claude. The trade extended to other parts of the Jura where boxwood grew and moved towards making small objects such as producing snuffboxes. The arrival of electricity at the start of the 20th century sped up the turning process and increased the number of workshops and craftsmen specialising in wood turning. In 1911, there were 7,600 of them in the Haut Jura, all within a 30-km radius of Saint-Claude! However, in the middle of the century, plastics made their appearance and sounded the death knell for wooden items. The business declined, before making a comeback in recent decades. Back to its roots and to authentic objects.
The artisan turners specialising in small objects work with hornbeam, beech, spruce and boxwood, and apply their expertise to various fields including furniture, household objects, musical instruments and of course, games and wooden toys. Wood turners produce finished articles, ready for use, and also work with other companies to create or restore antique objects such as architects, designers, cabinet makers, antique dealers and “Mobilier National” (French furniture service).