About Jean Becnel

I began my woodworking journey in the summer of 1996 with an older gentleman who just so happened to be my neighbor. He was a third generation home and furniture builder who made his living in that profession all of his life. I walked over one day when I heard a screaming racket of a noise coming from his large back-yard shop. We was thickness planing cypress boards down for a headboard he had designed and was building. I ended up spending the rest of the day holding boards, tools and pencils.

Only a couple of days went by before I was building a project of my own with his guidance and help. I didn't get to make a crazy racket of a noise though - he told me I would have to learn to use hand tools before he let me play with the big powerful electron burners. So learn hand tools, I did. I built a rather simple Acadian Style Cypress Entry Table. It lacked adornment other than beading but I built it - and boy was I proud. The entire summer went by and begrudgingly I never got to use power tools. By the following summer that changed, and I was turning out piece after piece of custom furniture still with his help. I continued to work with this man for 4 years and still visit him as often as I can.

Mahogany Pied-de-Biche
As the years went by and I continued building a dizzying volume of furniture, I found myself losing that enamor for woodworking that I once had. I realized it was time to get back to where I started and revisit hand tools. It was a moment of pure illumination that made me realize I never really enjoyed the outcome near as much as I enjoyed the journey. I've since spent many years studying what it means to be a craftsman in the 18th and 19th centuries and putting those tools and techniques to use in my shop.

To the best of my ability I have always attempted to research original illustrations and manuscripts rather than taking another man's opinion of them. I have an article here on Joseph Moxon, this is an ongoing project and you can expect to someday see a translation of Andre Roubo from it's original French here as well. My journey of the journeyman has no end in sight and I intend to continue the rest of my life as a father, a husband, a student of tradition and a craftsman of fine furnishings.

Unlike my method of work and the tools I use, my taste in furniture design hasn't changed all that much. Art Scholars blatantly over-look any furniture not originating from the North East as though it were meaningless and void of beauty. This is truly unfortunate as early 19th Century New Orleans was home to some of the countries most gifted tradesman from abroad. Over the last 300 years Louisiana's ever present Hurricanes, Fires and Floods have erased many of our benchmarks of art and particularly those on canvas or of wood. None the less some have survived. I urge anyone interested in these  stunning works of art to read Furnishing Louisiana, a work by the Historic New Orleans Collection.
I began studying the classics. I've developed a greater appreciation for the Early Federal Period but my passion remains in Acadian and Creole style which like our Gumbo and our Cajun people is a pleasing, laid-back no nonsense melding of many cultures. It is an unfortunate fact that our

These days I enjoy the peaceful serenity of working in my shop, only the pleasant and soft sounds of hand saws and planes. The days of making a crazy racket of a noise are over for me. I periodically accept new apprentices because I will never forget and always treasure my experience as one and I hope to ignite that spark of interest in other talented would-be craftsman and woman. I take commissions for work on a limited and selective basis as my time is divided with the LSU Rural Life Museum and my work out there.

You can contact Jean by email with any questions.
Contact Jean Becnel

Enough about me, lets talk about my ongoing Living History project with LSU.

- Jean Becnel
L'ébénisterie Créole

© Jean Becnel, 2012. 
The material found herein is the sole intellectual property of it's author(s). 
Reproduction of this information is strictly forbidden without the written permission of it's author(s)

No comments:

Post a Comment