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Craftsmanship of master artisans is yours to discover at the Journées des Métiers d’Art Swiss Romandy 2018

arts and crafts days Geneva
arts and crafts days Geneva

Chesalles-sur-Oron, Vaud: Elisabeth Regamey, designer and restorer of Sundials, on the site of a restoration on the facade of a Chesalles Farm near Bellevue. Photos: Jean-Luc Barmaverain. JEMA Vaud 2018.

Again this Spring the artisans of the Lake Geneva region are throwing open their workshops to welcome the public during the Journées des Métiers d’Art 2018 (JEMA). Here in the Swiss Romandy we go about our daily business often oblivious to the talented craftspeople who keep some of our favorite boutiques, repair shops, opera houses, theatres, museums and so much more, open for business.

Their painstaking workmanship is often the result of years of study and apprenticeships to hone skills that have been passed down through many generations.

Go behind the scenes

At past JEMAs I’ve enjoyed seeing budding ceramicists at work at the Centre de formation professionnelle-arts/Céramique; student illustrators/cartoonists and the jewellery workshops at HEAD; the set building and costume ateliers at the Grand Théâtre de Gèneve; as well as going behind the scenes to visit the dressing rooms and backstage rigging at the city’s renowned La Comédie Theatre.

A highlight has been meeting and talking with the artisans of Carouge: weavers, fashion and hat designers, stylists, antique book conservators, furniture restorers, jewellery makers and hand-made leather goods craftsmen, some of whom use machines that are the last of their kind.

(Left) Ariane Delabays, hat maker. Photo Catherine Leutenegger.  (Right) Cecilia Roger, embroiderer. JEMA Vaud 2018.

A European-wide arts and crafts event

All this and much more are ours to discover during Les Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Arts in Geneva and in Vaud on 20, 21, 22 April; and in Jura on 21 – 22 April. Entrance to all events, which are conducted in French, is free but in some cases requires registration (and places can be limited) so don’t delay in booking yourself a place.

Launched in France in 2002, Les Journées des Métiers d’Arts became an annual European event in 2012, the same year that the City of Geneva became the first Swiss city to participate, followed by Vaud canton in 2014, the Canton of Jura in 2015.

These special days are designed to spotlight the skills carefully developed and passed down over centuries in the design, creation, maintenance and restoration of objets d’art, musical instruments, antiques, furniture, books, clothes, handbags and hats and a wide array of handicrafts.

JEMA offers a unique and not-to-be-missed opportunity to meet and talk with master craftspeople in the very place where they learn and practice their skills and in some cases, are passing them on to the next generation of young artisans who are following in their footsteps.

(Left) Frank Bühler, “factor” of pianos. Photo Emilie Rondez. (Right) Bertille Laguet, creator of fine objects. Photo Philippe Naegele. JEMA Vaud 2018.

Precious and time-honored skills

In some cases the machines and tools used are no longer manufactured and the craft itself is on the wane in Switzerland, so don’t miss this chance to see what may be the last generation of artisans to practice some of these precious, time-honoured skills.

If you do get to some events, please leave a comment below and let me know what you got up to and what you thought of the experience.

You are welcome to leave a comment or question.

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