Portrait of Julie Decriem, the art of glassmaking

I imagine my story here!
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©Maillocheco 9|Tourisme en Pays de Saint-Omer

Glass has been made in the Saint-Omer region for a very long time. This is still the case at Arc International, the huge local glassworks. On the craft side, Julie Decriem is one of the few women to perpetuate this know-how. Meet a glassblower and a dream spinner, in Isbergues, near Aire-sur-la-Lys, where her workshop, Mailloche & Co. is based.

Spectacular know-how.

In the small workshop, the flashlight spits out a bright, intense flame, which eyes need to guard against with special glasses. Concentrated, Julie Decriem guides the participants who have come to make glass beads. “The difficulty lies in managing the temperature, whether we’re talking about blowing glass or glass with a flashlight. Glass ‘moves’ at 600 degrees and melts at 1200 degrees. It’s a technical, physical and artistic craft that requires subtle techniques,” she explains. It’s a spectacular skill that gives as much pleasure to watch as it does to appreciate the finished object.

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©Maillocheco 6jpg
Ancestral know-how

Julie Decriem’s revelation came when she visited a workshop in the South of France. “Glassblowing is like a dance, it fascinated me”, she says. My grandmothers passed on to me a love of sewing, and my grandfather’s motto was “I made it myself! After studying at the Beaux-Arts in Tourcoing, she was selected by the prestigious Centre Européen de Recherches et de Formation aux Arts Verriers (CERFAV) in Lorraine and became a European glassmaking companion.

A workshop in the valley of glass

“For two years, I trained in all glass techniques, in Spain, Italy and Sweden. I learned the murrine technique in Murano, Julie continues. This ancestral skill involves making a small disk with a concentric pattern created by superimposing multicolored glass rods. Once finished, the glass rod is cut into very thin slices or disks called murrines. The murrine eye, “the embodiment of transmission”, has become one of the symbols of the company’s expertise. In 2008, she founded Mailloche & Co*, her workshop in Isbergues. Today, she divides her time between teaching at the École d’Art d’Aire-sur-la-Lys, workshops for individuals and pure creation.

Christmas bauble blowing machine

Julie worked for a few years in R&D at ARC International glassworks. “I was doing prototypes, sampling, it was great.” With the industrial site, she has kept a link. Every December,she blows Christmas baubles at ARC as part of her Terre de Verre association. She would like to forge even stronger links between craftsmanship and industry, convinced of the value of handmade products and the attractiveness of a Cité du Verre, reflecting a major industrial history in Arques and the Audomar region.



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