The clogs of the Laduz museum
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The toys of the Laduz Museum

I had the opportunity to work for a few months at the Museum of Popular Art in Laduz in the Yonne. A rural museum built by the Humbert family: Jacqueline Raymond and their three sons, to present their exceptional collection of 19th century crafts from the regions of France before industrialisation.

Knowledge of the past is only meaningful if it enables genuine knowledge to be perpetuated. R.Humbert2016, thirty years of the museum.
The reception room of the Laduz Museum with walls painted by Jacqueline Humbert

The scenography is remarkable, the choice of objects, from the smallest tool to the singular work, is done with a taste and a sensitivity that have always transported me.

At the museum, several folk art collections touched me, and I was lucky enough to walk through my favourite rooms every day: the Workshop of Alfred Chanvin, Carpenter in Fairground Art, Folk Navy and Folk Toys.

View of the museum garden
Closure of spring end-of-day rooms in Laduz

The toys are displayed upstairs under the mansard roof of the limestone building. The walls are midnight blue and in each toy there is a mystery to be solved. This popular toy room was half enchanting, half scary.

I have repeatedly hosted groups of children in this double room and their curiosity for straw-stuffed bears, boiled cardboard dolls, iron dinners, painters' sets, magic lamps, mine always renewed.

Wooden toys made from wood cuttings and fruit gleaned by children.
Children's fabrications during the wooden toys workshop with Thérèse

The humility of the small wooden horse made by a father for his child at the end of the 19th century, the archetypal horse with simple lines according to the shape of the piece of wood was our favourite, for Jacqueline Humbert and me.

What fascinated me was to see the making of toys, far from plastic and formatted toys, standardised age by age. I saw how parents in the past could spend their evenings making little companions for their children, crafts with what they had on hand, crafts of infinite beauty.

The cheap industrial toys offered to village children, which could be purchased, profoundly changed human relations, especially between children and parents. Previously, they had not experienced poverty. This did not give them access to consumer goods that they did not see existed, but this was compensated by their ability to make and create.

Les jouets populaires, Raymond Humbert, Temps Actuels Editions, 1982

Documenting the history of toys through the writings published by Raymond Humbert, discovering the toys of yesteryear, accompanying children in their observations and in the making of simple wooden toys subtly and unknowingly in the moment, inspired and focused on my current project: a workshop for small forms, a workshop for the design and making of humble and authentic toys for children.

Wicker on a wheelbarrow in front of the small pond at the Laduz museum
Cutting wicker with Bruno and Jacqueline on a cool morning in the museum garden