Nicolas Guittet: Glassblower and creator of dreamlike art...

Limeuil
Nicolas Guittet: Glas ...

In Limeuil, a magnificent village in the Périgord Noir built on a rocky promontory, on the edge of the confluence between the Vézère and the Dordogne, Nicolas Guittet is a glassblower. He creates unique pieces, mostly decorative, jewelry, works of art imbued with great delicacy. He uses a cane, a long, thin metal cylinder, with which he blows molten, glowing and burning glass paste. It's a real spectacle to see him working with this everyday material, mixing colors and creating objects with an evanescent, refined look. Meeting with Nicolas and his wife Guillemette.

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Glass blower, a profession of passion

Nicolas Guittet has been a glass blower for more than 40 years. It is a profession of vocation, artistic, but also artisanal. He has always liked making things with his hands, which is why he started his professional life with an engineering degree! The passion for glass, which is strong in his family (his brother Dominique is also a glassmaker), catches up with him and he too embarks on the fervent discovery of artistic creation. Based in Corde-sur-Ciel in the Tarn, he started his workshop and developed his style for 22 years. Between Corde-sur-Ciel and Limeuil, there is only one step: steep medieval village, at the foot of a superb panorama, Nicolas and his wife Guillemette Rivaux fall in love with Périgord! After a quick stint in Savignac, they moved to the village in 2013, to take over the workshop of Monsieur Malmouche, also a glassmaker.

Nicolas and Guillemette Nicolas and Guillemette

Nicolas and Guillemette

Limeuil

The beautiful village of Limeuil, in Périgord Noir


Glassblower is a profession of body and mind. It all starts before you even grab the tools. Upstream preparation work is necessary to imagine the rooms and objects. As you can see in the video (above) everything goes very fast with glass, it's a moving, almost living material that you have to constantly rock and turn gently to make it go in the desired direction. Nicolas works with 3 ovens:

  • The melting furnace (over 1200 degrees) which is permanently on, because it is the one that contains the molten glass. He turns it on at the start of the season and turns it off at the end. It is always very hot in the workshop!
  • The reheating furnace, which he uses to stir up the glass he is working with a cane, between the different layers of glass and pigments.
  • The annealing furnace, which allows him to finalize the work of glass objects, to solidify them before possibly cold patinating them.

Nicolas Guittet Nicolas Guittet

The heating furnace, which he uses to make the glass malleable between the different layers

Nicolas Guittet
Creation of a vase, the glass has just been blown

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A workshop to see, understand and acquire a work

In the workshop, which is also a shop, Nicolas works on a few simple pieces, vases, decorative objects, to show curious visitors how an object is created. The sumptuous artistic creations that are exhibited in the shop, on the other hand, are a work of great precision and preparation. To obtain a perfect result, unparalleled bursts of color, effects and glass patinas, Nicolas needs concentration and makes these pieces outside the tourist season. This shop is also a work of collaboration with Guillemette. Together, they imagine pieces of art, create collections which are then presented in professional and artistic fairs (such as the Salon des métiers d'art or the Maison et Objet fair) in which they participate. Collectors solicit them from Japan, the United States and all over the world, Nicolas sends his creations.

In the shop, the visitor will find all kinds of pieces, for all budgets. There are jewels, which are the favorites of children and ladies. Simple and delicate sets are available, to have fun or make a nice gift. More complex jewels are available, necklaces, earrings, compositions with dichroic glass (these are my favourites…) shimmering, shining like a mixture of opal, amber and metal. Glass offers several renderings of texture and clarity: it can be transparent, opaque or alabaster.


Nicolas Guittet

Small drops of glass for a souvenir?

Nicolas Guittet

spheres of all colors

Nicolas Guittet

Very pretty Christmas balls, for an extraordinary tree


Lovers of perfume and beautiful bottles and vases will be able to afford a magnificent unique copy , made with a cold patina technique. Using an abrasive material, the glass is frosted, to be able to put it on a base without having a suction cup effect, but also to make the hermetic stopper (if you put perfume in the bottle for example). This technique also makes it possible to cut, to shear the glass, to make depth effects on a vase for example.


Nicolas Guittet  Nicolas Guittet

Glass creations, with multicolored dichroic glass insert

Nicolas Guittet

A vase with great “cold” work to frost it, then get those shear effects Nicolas Guittet

Pretty colored jellyfish, invented by a glassmaker in Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Alpes-Maritime), is an exercise in style always appreciated by lovers of blown glass.

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A physical and impressive work

Glass blowing is for sure a physical job! Between the preparation of the materials (the glass that must be washed and sorted for the purest material possible), the heat in the workshop and during the manufacture of a part (the glass worked is between 875°-640°), Nicolas doesn't need to diet in the summer!

Using a metal cane, he takes a little molten glass paste from the oven (the one that is always on). Then begins the work of shaping the object. He will blow into the cane, in a characteristic and delicate way, so that the glass inflates like a balloon. Continuously and while making the other gestures to mold his object, he turns the cane so that the glass (which is very hot and malleable) does not leak.


Nicolas Guittet

Blowing glass, a work of skill and gentle strength

Nicolas Guittet Nicolas Guittet
We add shards of glass, which once melted become superb filiform lines

He will then add several successive layers of glass colored with pigments. More or less large fragments. He then puts the cane back in the oven and when it comes out glowing, using a simple piece of moistened newspaper, he delicately but firmly caresses the glass dough. It smoothes, forms and deforms. To stretch it, he swings the cane (like a cheerleader!). He has specific tools which however have not changed much since the birth of the profession: a slicing iron, a wooden mallet...


Nicolas Guittet Nicolas Guittet
A work of patience and pugnacity

After a few minutes, the object appears, the colors are revealed when the room cools. It will still blow once or twice, but ultimately very little, compared to the time spent shaping the object. When the piece is finished, it is not yet ready to be sold. It must go through the annealing furnace, an essential operation that all our everyday glass objects have undergone. The annealing makes it possible to erase the tensions undergone by the material during its shaping, it is reheated and has homogenized the drop in temperature, to avoid the constraints and the fragility of the object.

At the end of your visit, you will learn more about an ancient, fascinating trade. You will have met two beautiful people and perhaps you will leave with a jewel, an object or a work of art? The workshop is open from March to the end of September. Do not hesitate to contact Nicolas and Guillemette to find out more about schedules and their availability.


Did you like our report? Find more on the BLOG. Find us also on the Facebook page of the Guide du Périgord and on Instagram @guideduperigord


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