Artistic
background of Mathieu Collette

MathieuColletteForgeDamas

Mathieu’s career now takes a new turn and he can apply the findings from his years of research and finally craft objects of his own, inspired from the classical blacksmithing traditions.

Mathieu Collette found out only recently that he springs from the bloodline of theRobichon family, who came from Burgundy in France to run the smithies at the famousForges du Saint-Maurice in New France.

However it was rather a childhood passion for cutlery and the arts of fire that brought him to realize during a brief stay in France that he wished to start an apprenticeship.

Through the Office Franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (OFQJ) he spends four years with an ironworker artist in Agen, in the South-West of France enrolled in a craftstmen’s training program. The very existence of such programs shows how well the French value their traditional trades. Days at his master’s anvil are interspersed with lectures on ironworking and toolsmithing.

Curious and motivated, Mathieu also decides to spend  time with Henri Sabatier, a blacksmith and cutler. He even seeks out André Maltaverne (winner of the prestigious “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” Award), a senior of mechanical toolsmithing. There he learns the keen delicacy of the trade and the subtle science of properly picking and treating the right steels for specific uses.

Mathieu Collette’s  apprenticeship is crowned with the  Exemplary Mention and First Prize of the SEMA  — now INNA —  (the French National Institute of Crafts). Back in Québec in 1997 he receives from the mayor of Chambly, Mrs Louise Beaudoin, a «Certificat des meilleures retombées durables» (certificate for the best lasting impact) in recognition of his apprenticeship in France.

Mathieu then proceeded to develop a truly impressive range of skills. He became known as the only ironworker able to produce the most peculiar architects’ and designers’ creations. He wins the François-Houdé prize (1998) for Excellence in new craftsmanship in Montréal with Ève — a damascus table — a joint collaboration between the Ville de Montréal and the Conseil des métiers d’art du Québec. He oversees the restoration of antique ironwork such as the gates of Notre-Dame basillica in Old Montreal. Most of the pieces in the Forges portfolio have seen the light of day under Mathieu Collette’s supervision or have been made from his very own hammer.

Preoccupied by the disappearance of the blacksmith’s trade and related tradition, Mathieu founded and actively supports an organization devoted to their preservation and promotion: Les Forges de Montréal.

His enduring passion for cutlery and toolsmithing, the high regard in which he holds noble and damask wrought steels, drives him to experiment with techniques and medias shared by other craftsmen or gleaned from other traditions. Mathieu’s career now takes a new turn and he can apply the findings from his years of research and finally craft objects of his own, inspired from the classical blacksmithing traditions.