Etienne Dulin makes gorgeous copper pots, bowls, pepper mills, mustard dishes, skillets, omelet pans, cake molds and more in Villedieu-les-Poêles (literally, God’s town of frying pans), not far from Granville on the coast of Normandy. Since the 12th-century arrival of the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, later known as the Knights of Malta, the small town has been known for its dinanderie, or copperware, and by the 18th century there were some 130 ateliers at work. Today Dulin’s grand Atelier du Cuivre is one of the very few left.
Dulin and his team work in a large, lofty old studio the size of a grange hall, where the stone walls, wooden floors and oak beams reflect the warm glow of the flames used to bend and mold the copper, then to line the pots and pans with a layer of the traditional tin, or with stainless steel or silver. Dulin, who also works with brass and other metals, supplies the finest hotels and shops in Paris with copperware. The Atelier du Cuivre is a staunch guardian of age-old traditional skills, but Dulin is also a font of ideas, including removable handles on copper skillets so they can go in the oven, delicate copper jam jars for the breakfast table and a small silver frying pan intended for wild mushrooms. And he doesn’t stop with kitchen utensils—he also makes tiny copper saucepans as charms, and big, old-fashioned copper bathtubs that are marvelous to behold.
The Atelier du Cuivre is open to the public, and Dulin greets guests with a warm welcome. His work—and his reasonable prices—speak for themselves.
Atelier du Cuivre, 54 rue du Général Huard, Villedieu-les-Poêles, 02.33.51.31.85; 11 ave Daumesnil, Paris 12th, 01.43.40.20.20. website
Originally published in the December 2010 issue of France Today