Maison DEGRENNE is proud of its ‘Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant’ label awarded to companies that embody French excellence in craftsmanship and manufacture. At the Vire and Limoges production centres, that excellence is achieved by men and women passionate about their craft, who perpetuate expertise and skills passed down by previous generations, and are always ready to succeed in new challenges.
Cécile Souton : individual piece finishing
The production of Limoges Porcelain draws on many highly specialised craft-based skills. For the first firing, every piece passes through a finishing stage to eliminate imperfections such as mould seams, as well as to form the spouts and handles of some products.
“You have to like the job, as they say! Finishing is a very dusty process”, explains Cécile Souton, who has worked at the DEGRENNE factory in Pierre-Buffière near Limoges for 29 years, having joined the firm after an unsatisfactory trial period as a hairdresser. Cécile particularly appreciates the artistic aspect of the job and the family feel here. “Some pieces are more complex than others to work on. Forming the spout of a gravy boat or teapot requires more dexterity than finishing large pieces, such as salad bowls”. Cécile feels very attached to her company: “When I began here, I never thought I’d be here all my working life, but I’ve grown as a person here, I’ve developed my skills and I’m not looking forward to stopping”.
Brigitte Faucher : glazing
Brigitte Faucher has worked here since 1975 in the “white” section, which is what they call the world in which pieces are produced and finished before decoration. She remembers when the factory was acquired by DEGRENNE: “In those days, we knew the brand because of the famous ‘dunce’ TV commercial. So being part of a company with such a reputation and entering the world of industry was something to be proud of”. Brigitte Faucher is also a great example of how expertise and skills are passed from one generation to the next, because she learned glazing from her mother.
Removed from the first kiln, each piece is dipped by hand - often up to the elbow - in a bath of liquid glaze to give it a smooth, shiny appearance. The aim is to ensure that each piece is entirely covered with thickness of glaze that is as constant and even as possible. “It’s a ery elaborate movement that varies depending on the shape of the piece, and in which speed and accuracy are key requirements. When everything is going well, you can glaze 500 cups or plates in an hour”, she explains. She would love to be able to pass on what she herself learned from her own mother.
Christelle Baile : transfer application
Quality of decoration is an important contributory factor to the reputation of Limoges Porcelain for excellence. All the various decoration processes require a level of manual dexterity that can take a long time to achieve. Christelle Baile has been applying transfers at DEGRENNE for 23 years, and for her, the job was a natural choice, because her family already worked in the porcelain industry, and she loved to work with their hands. Throughout the day, she dips the colour screenprinted transfers in water to release the pattern from its backing and applies it by hand using no guide or reference mark. “It requires enormous concentration. Some decorations are more complex than others. You have to find the right balance between performance and quality”, she explains. Christelle decorates up to 100 plates every hour.
The biggest drawback of the job for her is the fact that it is essentially sedentary. Which is why she has a soft spot for spray-painting, which requires her to stand and move around. Christelle confirms the devotion of her highly skilled colleagues to their Maison: “Even the youngest of us has been here for 20 years!
The adventure begun in 1948 continues, with the same spirit of innovation and the same concern for excellence that have characterized the House since its creation.
We will make every moment a powerful emotion... We have everything that makes lifestyles special ahead of us.