Night classes in sculpture led Yann Marot to discover his passion for woodturning and, after apprenticeships with a number of well-known professionals, he opened his own atelier in 2002, in the village of Aubepierre, north of Limoges, in the Limousin region of central France. Woodturning is the art of creating wooden objects on a lathe—the wood spins while a tool, held stationary, shapes it. The basic technique has been practiced since the early Egyptian era and developed over the centuries, progressing from the pedal-operated lathes of the Middle Ages to the machine tools of the industrial era. But by the mid-20th century woodturning by hand had almost completely disappeared in France, and it owes its current modest renaissance to dedicated artisans like Marot. Exacting and hazardous, the work requires a thorough knowledge of wood and complete mastery of the tools and multiple techniques—spindle turning, faceplate turning, green woodturning, ornamental turning, gouging, skewing and much more.

Marot divides his time between classic tournage à façon, making furniture and its component parts—table legs, balusters, frames—and creating his own original works, including decorative bowls, vases and objets d’art. The first requires “great technical rigor”, he says, and the second “allows me to let myself go towards more personal imagination”. Among those imaginative works: a series of exquisite golden oak bowls and vases with a remarkable “corded” decor, and two associated sets of decorative containers in striated, brushed beechwood—the conical Three Brigands and the round, delicately pointed-top Girlfriends of the Three Brigands.

Marot also offers classes for individuals or groups of two or three, for one- or five-day programs, or multiple weeks of professional-level training for both beginners and advanced apprentices.

39 lieu-dit Aubepierre, Azerables,


Originally published in the December 2010 issue of France Today