Jean-Louis Roseberry: Authentic to the Core!

Jean-Louis Roseberry has lived and breathed wood. As a very young child, when he visited his grandfather’s woodwork shop, he would become exhilirated with the odour of cut timber and would delight in the “symphony” of hammering. As a. teenager, he admired the beauty of a finished plece of reproduction furniture and he dreamed of one day learning the art of furniture making. Thus, it was quite natural that after completing his CEGEP education, he began his first a

 

pprenticeship as a cabinet maker at a work shop in Grondines, Quebec, with a master craftsman specialized in the art of making reproduction furniture. For almost three years, he became familiar with traditional Quebec furniture in the French style of Louis XIII and with various joining methods and he worked on a number of large-scale pieces This proved to be an extremely rewarding experience that would lead to his participation in the Salon des Artisans [Artisans’ Show], where he made the acquaintance of people in charge of the France-Quebec Exchanges, including the Director of the Chambre de Métiers de Bretagne [Brittany Chamber of Guilds].

While taking a specialization course, Mr. Roseberry met a famous Breton artisan, Yves Palamour, a master cabinet maker under whom. he would subsequently apprentice in France. For the idea had taken hold in his mind of going to Europe in order to acquire more in-depth knowledge of French furniture. Mr. Roseberry therefore applied for a bursary in order to work with a master craftsman in France.

With his exchange bursary in hand, Mr. Roseberry joined his master cabinet maker in Brittany for an experience that would remain unforgettable, both professionally and personally. Yves Palamour was one of the best cabinet makers in France and a former student of the École de Boules in Paris, the cabinet making school par excellence, which still exists today but focuses increasingly on training in design.

For 16 months, Mr. Roseberry took an intensive training session at the work shop of Yves Palamour, beginning with instruction in the use of hand tools like in the 18th century. Jean-Louis learned how to sharpen the tools and how to ascertain that they are vertical in space, and he mastered the various traditional joining practices. The goal was to gain mastery in accurate and precise movements. Even if, nowadays, power tools have replaced traditional tools, there are always situations that call upon manual expertise, hence the importance of this training.

During the same period as his work shop training, Mr. Roseberry took courses in art history at the Brittany Chamber of Guilds (furniture making goes hand in hand with changes in way of life and in society), as well as courses in drafting, whereby he obtained a thorough knowledge of proportion and planning (all difficulties must be resolved on paper before the furniture production begins).

Having gained a great deal of experience and training, Mr. Roseberry returned to Quebec and began his cabinet making business. Projects followed one after the other: the St. Alexandre Pub, the Librairie du Nouveau Monde [New World Bookstore], appearances in the magazine “Décorations Chez Soi” [Home Decorating], and a number of contracts for private citizens, to name a few. Little by little, he became known but found it difficult to make ends meet. Jean-Louis then decided to leave for British Columbia and to set up business there.

And what have his accomplishments been in British Columbia? For the most part, sophisticated interior finishing in private residences, renovations (such as a porch with a skylight and eaves trough out of wood), sailboat repairs and furniture: benches, a vanity, a queen-size bed, custom-made doors, the wine cellar and part of the furnishing for the restaurant Salade de Fruits in Vancouver.

Today, Mr. Roseberry is able to make a living from his art. Ideally, he would like to leave aside interior finishing in order to devote himself exclusively to making 18th-century furniture, his specialty. He is well aware that it takes time to make a name for oneself, and thanks to CBC television, he has already managed to benefit from a few minutes of public exposure through their series “Portraits de francophones” [“Francophone Portraits”], which is broadcast during the evening news.

His fondest wish would be to obtain a grant or to find a patron who would provide financial support, enabling him to prepare for an exhibit. For in order to mount an exhibit, it is necessary to be able to stop working for other people and to think only of creating one’s own pieces. Jean-Louis Roseberry is a modern-day artisan and cabinet maker; that is to say, he uses traditional techniques adapted to modern tools and machines, in order to produce pieces of furniture and objects that are each différent in their style, shape, beauty, durability and uniqueness.