Manufacture of santons

The production of Fouque santons: a traditional, unique and ancestral know-how

Preparation of the clay: In the past, you had to choose some rough soil in your quarry, then put it to soak, dilute it, sift it. The resulting liquid was then sent to settling ponds where he stayed for about two months. During the hot season, the sun ended the evaporation of the surplus water. There remained a paste that was recovered as soon as it no longer sticks to the fingers. This clay was cellared and kept fresh for about five years. This method was used in Maison Fouque until 1990.

Today, Maison Fouque uses a very fine clay from the region, already worked. It is with this very pure land that we make our figurines.

Creation of santons: The first model is created entirely by hand exclusively by a member of the Fouque family. From this model, a plaster mold in two parts is manufactured in our workshop. This first mold is called the mother mold. After drying, it will be used to make a mold son, which will make the santons in several copies.

The realization of many subjects requires several successive casts which allow to obtain more movement in the forms, it is one of the specialties of our House. It is necessary, in this case, to assemble each piece such as arm, hand, head, hat, cape ... etc. with slip (liquid clay).

Drying santons: The subject, removed from the mold and assembled, undergoes retouches, deburrings and smoothings, operations that consist in removing the superfluous clay. Then, it will again be deburred and smoothed several times during the drying which must be carried out very slowly, because a too fast drying would split the earth at the time of the withdrawal of water and air. The drying varies from eight days to two months depending on the importance of the subject.

Cooking: Although dry, the santons are placed in an oven, carefully stored to prevent them from breaking. The heating is done gradually, for nine hours, at a temperature that reaches 960 ° C. The oven must remain closed for 48 hours, to cool very gradually. The santons are then taken out of the oven, solid like brick.

Decoration: It is a long and meticulous work done with painting point after point. Our subjects are decorated color after color and are repeated many times, to paint all patterns on clothing. This matte paint allows our santons to cross the time without being altered. The paints used give our santons a very high quality.

The Fouque House perpetuates the tradition, creating each year new santons, following the same method for two centuries.