For more than 30 years, Hervé Mayon, a former industrial designer, has been making semi-artificial trees for the decoration of events or theatrical scenes.
Oak, spruce, birch, charm … Trunks of multiple species of wood line up in the workshop of Hervé Mayon, manufacturer of semi-artificial trees for the decoration of events or theater scenes.
This 66-year-old craftsman, who is now struggling to transmit his original know-how, is one of the professionals honored by the 12th edition of the European Days of Crafts, from Tuesday to Sunday.
This autodidact installed in Allain, village of Meurthe-et-Moselle of 470 inhabitants, opens on this occasion to the public his workshop, real cave of Ali Baba enclosing a lush artificial jungle.
For more than 30 years, this former industrial designer has been shaping trees “as real as life”. His company, La Licorne Verte, is labeled “Living Heritage Company” and he is one of the only ones to carry out such an activity in France.
Hervé Mayon recovers wood from individuals who want to fell their trees, or in the nearby forest, under municipal authorizations.
The artisan collects wood from individuals who want to fell their trees, or in the nearby forest, under municipal permits.
The ideal tree, for Hervé Mayon, must have “look”. The twisted trees are his preference: “I like what is not necessarily right,” told AFP this man with a round face, cap screwed on the head.
The craftsman transports trunks and cut branches in his workshop to make his creations. The wood is treated, the trunk is pierced so that it can incorporate branches, which are glued foliage or artificial flowers.
A job that requires patience and thoroughness and must give the illusion of reality. “It is necessary that people pass by without saying that it is a fake,” says Hervé Mayon, in the middle of his studio where enthroned maple and a cherry tree of Japan reconstituted.
The semi-artificial trees of this craftsman, which sometimes measure 12 meters high and may require 250 hours of work, must be transported, assemble and dismount easily, trunks too heavy are hollowed out.
Its clientele consists mainly of companies (head offices, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, trade shows …).
– Difficult beginnings –
Hervé Mayon, 66, is now struggling to transmit his original know-how. He is one of the professionals honored by the 12th edition of the European Days of Crafts.
The theater is one of his other fields of expression: he has just made the greenery of Marivaux’s play “The Game of Love and Chance” directed by the former member of the Comédie-Française Catherine Hiegel, at the Porte Saint-Martin Theater in Paris.
To do this, a month and a half of work was necessary for the craftsman, with the full order book, which in the past also participated several times in the Avignon festival.
It is sometimes solicited by celebrities and wealthy individuals. It takes at least 2,500 euros to buy a tree in his living room, and his creations are also available for rent.
The sexagenarian, who worked in the iron and steel industry and then for an import company in Paris, reconverted a little by chance, in 1988, proposing to the manager of the gym attended by his wife him to realize a vegetal decoration.
The family then leaves the Paris region to find its stronghold of Meurthe-et-Moselle. The beginnings of this activity are difficult: “There was no internet, only word of mouth”.
The craftsman, who believes it took 10 years to master his trade, did not undergo any special training before starting.
The craftsman, who believes it took 10 years to master his trade, did not undergo any special training before starting. “But I’m from the countryside, I know what a tree is!”
Today, Hervé Mayon would like to pass the baton and sell his business, but struggling to find an ideal candidate and the time needed to train his unique expertise. A problematic at the heart of the European Days of Crafts, which this year for topics future and transmission.